Visceral Manipulation

What is Visceral Manipulation (VM)?

"Viscera" relates to the internal organs of the body, such as the liver, kidneys and intestines. Visceral Manipulation is a gentle manual therapy that aids your body's ability to release restrictions and unhealthy compensations that cause pain and dysfunction. Visceral Manipulation or VM, does not focus solely on the site of pain or dysfunction, but evaluates the entire body to find the source of the problem. The VM therapist feels for altered or decreased motion within the viscera, as well as restrictive patterns throughout the body and then applies VM techniques. VM re-establishes the body's ability to adapt and restore itself to health.

What is treatment like?

VM is a soft hands on manual therapy. Underneath the pain or diagnosis is a compenstory 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 tisues.
The goal of VM is to increase fluidity in the tissues to promote better movement and function. As the source of the problem is released, the symptoms will start to decrease.
The treatment is usually performed in clothing that allows for mobility. You may be seated or lying on your front, back or side depending on what tissue needs treatment. Each person’s situation is different and each treatment is tailored to them.

Emotions are stored in 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 feelings. Different emotions affect different organs. Emotional reactions can translate into simple spasms in the gall bladder through heartburn, vomiting, feeling faint, ulcers and serious diseases. When the brain receives negative emotions it sends tension to the related organ, the organ sends tension back to the brain resultling 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 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 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 inch; and with a deep inhalation, they move 4 inches. In a day they move a little over a 1/2 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 lifestyles, 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 movement 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 from the actual cause.

Visceral Manipulation can benefit:
Acute Disorders Whiplash Seatbelt Injuries Chest or Abdominal Sports Injuries
Musculoskeletal Disorders Headaches and Migraines Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Back, Hip and Knee Pain Sciatica
Digestive Disorders Bloating and Constipation Acid Reflux Swallowing Dysfunctions
Pain related to Post-operative Scar Tissue Post-infection Scar Tissue
Women's and Men's Helath Issues Chronic Pelvic Pain Endometriosis Fibroids and Cysts Dysmenorrhea Bladder Incontinence Prostate Dysfunction
Pediatric Issues Constipation and Gastritis Reflux and Persistent Vomiting Colic
Emotional Issues Anxiety and Depression Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
And much more

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, it's 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 their potential influence on structural and physiological dysfunctions. He named this therapy 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 around the world. He has authored numerous professional textbooks and a book for the general public, Understanding the Messages of Your Body.

"Printed with permission of the Upledger Institute International"
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