Be gentle with your vital organs.
What is Visceral Manipulation?
Visceral Manipulation (VM) is a very gentle manual therapy used to mobilize the viscera, which are the internal organs of the body such as the liver, stomach and kidneys as well as the connective tissue surrounding them. This hands-on therapy is received laying or seated on a treatment table.
Visceral Manipulation techniques are used to restore the natural movements of soft tissues. These natural motions are the sign of a healthier body. They help the body to adapt to life challenges, heal itself and restore homeostasis, the body’s natural balance.
A Visceral Manipulation therapist evaluates the entire body. With her hands, she feels for the lack of motion – restrictions – around the internal organs, adverse lines of tension, heat and many other signs. These all give an indication on the state of health of the body. They help the therapist understand the logic at play in the person. These imbalances connect throughout the entire body and point to the source of the pain or dysfunction.
How does Visceral Manipulation work?
Most often a restriction does not occur in a single place. The body is a unit with a highly organized hierarchy. When the connective tissue gets too short to harmoniously accommodate each body part during each movement, the body needs to make choices. Organs and the central nervous system are protected first. One can live with a painful shoulder or knee but what would happen if a lung or a kidney are compromised? The choice is simple. As long as it can, the body discharges every possible problem to the muscles and the joints. This is the smartest choice to insure long term survival. Therefore, when you feel that your muscles or your joints ache, the true question is to understand where does this come from? A fall, a direct blow to a knee or is there a more complex battle unfolding under the surface of your skin?
We are a giant communication system. The brain is constantly monitoring everything in the body: its position in space, chemical levels, the presence of pathogens, to name a few. Then life happens: accidents, emotions, bad posture, poor diet or lack of exercise, and an area of the body contracts and stops responding to the constant messaging of the brain. In the absence of feedback, the brain turns away from this area and stops sending messages to it. The self-healing capacity of this area is lost. The brain then shifts to Plan B, the compensation phase, in which it develops strategies to continue to function and protect itself despite the issues that have arisen in the body. What was once a restriction turns into an entire compensation pattern, feeding various pains or dysfunctions that can spread from head to toe. It works for a while until compensations accumulate and then Plan B does not work anymore.
Let’s take a common example. Consider that the heart beats an average of 120,000 times a day. Think of a middle age professional, who in his life time has had one episode of bronchitis, one fall on the torso during sport practice and works in a seated position. Each of these life situations holds the potential of causing tension in the chest area. Because of this tension in the chest, soft tissues around the heart begin to lose their ability to smoothly accommodate movement, communication with the brain is partially lost and tightness settles in. This can be felt as shoulder and upper back pain or discomfort in the chest area. In our example, let’s say that the restriction around the heart inflicts a drag of merely one ounce. I let you do the math: 1 ounce multiplied by 120,000 heart beats a day is a lot of extra work for the heart. In the long run, is it really wise to keep restrictions around vital organs?
Visceral Manipulation is a science based manual therapy to listen to the body, understand each situation and help release undue tensions to jumpstart healing and balance.
How does Visceral Manipulation feel?
Visceral Manipulation is a gentle manual therapy using a pressure that is light to moderate. It never involves high velocity adjustments or “cracking”. The VM therapist follows the compensation pattern to the source of the pain which can be quite far removed from the pain area itself. The hands of the VM therapist gently compress, mobilize and elongate soft tissues. This way the body releases the tension at the source of the problem and the associated restrictions are released. The body begins to heal and the pain and symptoms disappear.
A lot of patients are surprised about how powerful the gentle approach of Visceral Manipulation can be. Let’s use analogy that might be more familiar. If your intent is to create peace and develop free trade with another country, would you send in the military or diplomats and business men?
Who can benefit from Visceral Manipulation?
Visceral Manipulation is such a gentle form of manual therapy that it can be used at each stage of life and can thus benefit everybody from newborns to elderly clients, healthy to more fragile patients while adjusting to their needs.
Visceral Manipulation supports the natural healing process of the body. Therefore Visceral Manipulation helps so many situations that an entire list would be impossible. For now, suffice it to say that Visceral Manipulation is the go to therapy for many patients with digestive issues, fertility or urologic concerns, endocrine imbalances, back, shoulder and chest pains.
The page Health Conditions offers a more detailed list of conditions that can be addressed.
A brief history of Visceral Manipulation .
Visceral Manipulation was developed by Jean-Pierre Barral, a French osteopath and registered Physical Therapist. Jean-Pierre Barral began his career in the Lung and Disease Hospital of Grenoble, France. Through his work at that hospital, he gained a deep understanding of the visceral system, the potentially adverse biomechanic tensions induced by internal organs through the body, tissue memory and the role of emotions in organ health. Lead by a keen interest on how to better help his more than 100.000 patients heal, Jean-Pierre Barral developed Visceral Manipulation as a new form of manual therapy.
To learn more about Visceral Manipulation and the health of each organ, Jean-Pierre Barral’s book “Understanding the Messages of Your Body” is both instructive and easy to read.
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