How can visceral manipulation nourish your soul?
Organs, or ‘viscera,’ need to move inside the body to function properly. Visceral manipulation is a hands-on therapy that involves gentle and precise manipulation techniques to encourage the normal mobility, tone and motion of the internal organs and their surrounding connective tissue structures. This is done to release organ restrictions that may cause pain and dysfunction, and restore health to the body.
Organs develop adhesions or scar tissue that restrict their movement and pliability, and hinder organ function. This may be a result of postural strains, physical trauma, chronic inflammation, emotional issues, or poor lifestyle habits. This lack of harmony may give rise to several issues in the body, for example musculoskeletal pain or digestive dysfunction.
By working through the body’s visceral system, Visceral manipulation practitioners locate and alleviate abnormal tensions using soft, gentle manual forces. This works to improve the function of individual organs, the systems the organs function within, and the structural integrity of the entire body. As such, this modality focuses on creating harmony within the whole body and is not limited to treating only the site of pain.
Visceral manipulation was first introduced as a therapy by the French osteopath and physiotherapist, Jean-Pierre Barral, who still teaches his innovative work today. However, methods of organ manipulation are said to have been a part of ancient medicinal cultures in Europe and Asia since pre-recorded times.
Visceral manipulation may be conducted by a variety of health care professionals who have received visceral manipulation training. This includes physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, remedial massage therapists and other manual therapists.
The Barral Institute is the international organisation providing continuing education and certification for visceral manipulation. In Australia, practitioners can receive visceral manipulation certification from the affiliate organisation, Barral Institute Australia.
Benefits of visceral manipulation
Visceral manipulation is reported to benefit a myriad of health conditions. These may include acute disorders, musculoskeletal conditions, digestive dysfunction, reproductive issues, paediatric issues and emotional disorders.
Research into visceral manipulation is an emerging field of literature, although there are promising results from a number of studies.
In a randomised controlled trial, it was demonstrated that visceral manipulation may improve symptoms in patients suffering from non-specific neck pain associated with dyspepsia (indigestion). Improvements in physical symptoms and overall quality of life in patients with chronic low back pain have also been reported in a study evaluating the use of visceral techniques alongside osteopathic manual therapy.
In one study involving animals, it was shown that manual therapy maintains movement of damaged organ structures after surgery. This suggests that further research could contemplate whether similar techniques in humans may be useful for preventing and breaking up postoperative adhesions.
Visceral manipulation may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Back pain
- Bladder issues and incontinence
- Digestive and gastrointestinal issues
- Fertility and reproductive issues
- Headaches and migraines
- Heartburn and acid reflux
- Hips and pelvis
- Liver issues
- Menopause and hot flushes
- Mobility and movement
- Mood imbalances
- Muscle strain and injury
- Neck pain
- PMT/PMS and menstrual issues
- PTSD and trauma
- Scars, burns and wound healing
- Shoulder and elbow issues
- Sports injuries
- Stress and tension
- Tennis elbow and repetitive strain injury (RSI)
- Vertigo and dizziness
What to expect from a visceral manipulation session
During your visceral manipulation session, your practitioner will search for the source of your pain or diagnosis by feeling for altered or decreased motion of the organs, as well restrictive patterns throughout the body. It may be that the pain you feel is located far away from the root cause of the issue.
Your practitioner will then apply visceral manipulation techniques, such as gentle compression, mobilisation and elongation of the soft tissues to release the source of the problem.
The number of sessions you require will depend on your individual needs. You may feel improvements after only a few sessions, or you may require a long-term treatment plan. Your visceral manipulation practitioner will develop a treatment protocol that is dependent on how your body responds to the treatment.
Keep in mind that it is always advisable to consult a qualified health professional before commencing any wellness journey. If you have an injury or an underlying health issue, speak to your visceral manipulation practitioner, who will be happy to address these concerns and personalise the therapy session to your individual requirements.
Effect of Osteopathic Visceral Manipulation on Pain, Cervical Range of Motion, and Upper Trapezius Muscle Activity in Patients with Chronic Nonspecific Neck Pain and Functional Dyspepsia | Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
The effect of visceral osteopathic manual therapy applications on pain, quality of life and function in patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain | Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation