Treatment Options

Maintaining Health : Regaining Health

Visceral Manipulation

This delicate manual therapy is often cited as a missing link in the treatment of recurring musculoskeletal pain, postural distortions and biomechanical dysfunction. (ie Pain in the muscles, back or joints)

What is Visceral Manipulation?

The word “visceral” means the internal organs of the body such as kidneys, liver or bladder. VM (Visceral Manipulation) is a hands-on therapy with the specific goal of improving functioning of the body. It addresses structural imbalances, tensions and restrictions by facilitating normal motion of the body, both within and between the tissues. The ultimate goal of Visceral Manipulation is improved health to allow the body to function optimally.

Visceral Manipulation uses gentle, specifically placed manual forces that encourage normal movement of the organs, their supporting structures, fascia, nerves and blood vessels. Additionally other factors affecting the body such as emotional issues may be addressed.

How can Visceral Manipulation help me?

Visceral Manipulation is used to locate and treat problems throughout the body. It encourages your own natural self-healing mechanisms to improve the functioning of your organs, counteract the negative effects of stress, allow movement throughout your body and positively influence general metabolism and health.

How is Visceral Manipulation Performed?

Visceral Manipulation is a gentle hands-on therapy that locates and alleviates abnormal points of tension throughout the body. This is done by the practitioner using their hands to release restrictions and to encourage the normal tone and movement of the organs, nerves and blood vessels and their surrounding tissues. The treatment is through gentle compression, mobilisation and elongation of the tissues.

During Visceral Manipulation treatment your practitioner may make a deep contact with the body, but it will not be invasive and is rarely painful although people often are surprised at how the gentle touch can have a significant impact on how they feel. These gentle manipulations can improve the functioning of individual organs, the systems the organs function within and the structural integrity of the entire body. As the source of the problem releases, the symptoms will start to decrease as the body returns to greater health. This could take several days to occur after the Visceral Manipulation treatment.

Examples Visceral Manipulation may benefit:

Pains and Injuries

Digestive Disorders

Emotional Issues

How much treatment will I need?

At the initial consultation the practitioner should be able to give a guide of how often and for how long you may need treatment. This will depend on your condition and your goals for treatment. In general most people will notice change in 3-5 sessions. Some problems will change rapidly and others more gradually depending on the condition, how long you have it and how your body responds. We are individuals and every person/case is different.

What Does It Feel Like?

VM is a soft hands-on manual therapy. Underneath the pain or diagnosis is a compensatory pattern created in the body with the initial source of the dysfunction often being far from where the pain is felt. Because of this, the practitioner searches for this pattern and the source, and treats the related tissues. The treatment is a gentle compression, mobilization and elongation of the soft tissues. As the source of the problem is released, the symptoms will start to decrease as the body returns to greater health. This could take several days to occur after the Visceral Manipulation treatment.

How do Organs Contribute to Pain and Dysfunction?

Your body is made up of many interrelated components such as bones, muscles, nerves, a thin connective tissue called fascia, as well as the internal organs (viscera). Your organs are in perpetual motion. When you breathe, walk and stretch, your organs move in your chest and abdomen. For example, when you take a breath, your kidneys move one cm; and with deep inhalation, they can move up to 4 cms. In a day, they move a little over ½ mile. That’s around 19,000 miles in a lifetime!

This movement of organs is transmitted through fascia to other structures of the body. When you are healthy, all the structures move with an interconnected fluidity. All of this movement is important as it influences activities throughout the body from the tiniest cellular pulsations to rhythmic contractions of the heart and blood flow. Optimum health relies on a harmonious relationship between the motions of the organs and other structures of the body.

There are many reasons for an organ to lose its mobility: physical traumas, surgeries, sedentary lifestyle, infections, pollution, bad diet, poor posture and pregnancy/delivery. When an organ is no longer freely mobile but is fixed to another structure, the body is forced to compensate. This disharmony creates fixed, abnormal points of tension and the chronic irritation gives way to functional and structural problems throughout the body – musculoskeletal, vascular, nervous, urinary, respiratory and digestive, to name a few.

Imagine scar tissue around the lungs. Because of the pull of the adhesion, with every breath, the movement patterns of the nearby structures would be altered. This could shift rib motion creating pulls on the spine. These restrictions might then show up as mid-back and neck pain, as well as limited motion in the shoulder. This scenario highlights just one of hundreds of possible ramifications of a small dysfunction – magnified by thousands of repetitions each day. This also explains how pain can often be far removed from the actual cause.

Emotions are Stored in the Organs

It is well documented that our emotions have a great impact on how our body functions, and this is greatly due to how receptive organs are to our feelings. Different emotions affect different organs. Emotional reactions can translate into simple spasms in the gallbladder to heartburn, vomiting, feeling faint, ulcers, and serious diseases. When the brain receives negative emotions it sends tension to the related organ, the organ then sends tension back to the brain resulting in a vicious cycle. Conversely, a physically damaged or imbalanced organ can stimulate emotional upset. VM can break this cycle, enhance the health of the organ, and restore emotional balance.

How Did Visceral Manipulation Begin?

Jean-Pierre Barral is an Osteopath and Registered Physical Therapist from France. He first became interested in the movement of the body (biomechanics) while working at the Lung Disease Hospital in Grenoble, France with Dr. Arnaud, a recognized specialist in lung diseases and a master of cadaver dissection. Barral was able to follow patterns of stress in the tissues of cadavers as he studied biomechanics in living subjects. This introduced him to the visceral system, its potential to promote lines of tension within the body, and the notion that tissues have memory. Barral’s clinical work with the viscera led to his development of this form of manual therapy that focuses on the internal organs, their fascial environment and the potential influence on structural and physiological dysfunctions. The term he coined for this therapy was Visceral Manipulation.

Jean-Pierre Barral began teaching Visceral Manipulation in the United States in 1985. Since then he has trained a team of International Instructors that teach Visceral Manipulation seminars around the world. He has authored numerous textbooks for healthcare professionals, and has also authored a book for the general public, Understanding the Messages of Your Body, which discusses the important link between our organs and our emotions.

To make an appointment contact us now