It sounds kind of odd, doesn’t it? “I don’t want someone manipulating my viscera!?!” If you’ve got heart burn, digestive issues, or problems with your menstrual cycle–visceral manipulation can be very helpful. ‘Viscera’ relates to the internal organs of the body, such as the liver, kidneys and intestines. Visceral Manipulation, or VM, is a gentle manual therapy that aids your body’s ability to release restrictions and unhealthy compensations that cause pain and dysfunction. 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 the altered or decreased motion within the viscera, as well as restrictive patterns throughout the body and then applies VM techniques. VM therapy re-establishes the body’s ability to adapt and restore itself to health.
Here’s a short list of conditions that I treat with VM:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Digestive Disorders
- Post-Operative Scar tissue and pain
- Fibroids and Cysts
- Period Related Pain
How Many Sessions Does It Take?
As each person’s situation is different, the number of visits will vary. Many people experience significant improvement within three to five therapy sessions; others may require additional treatment. You and your practitioner will develop a plan based on your needs and how your body responds to treatment.
What Does it Feel Like?
VM is a soft, hands-on manual therapy. Underneath the pain or diagnoses 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.
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. If your stomach has ever been in knots from anxiety, you understand. Different emotions affect different organs. Emotional reactions can translate into simple spasms in the gallbladder or 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 Do Organs Contribute to Pain and Dysfunction?
Your body is made up of many interrelated components – bones, muscles, nerves, a thin connective tissue called fascia, as well as 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 inch; and with deep inhalation, they move 4 inches. In a day, they move over 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 fluidity. 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 this harmonious relationship.
Organs lose mobility due to physical trauma, surgery, lifestyle, infection, pollution, diet, posture, pregnancy and such. When an organ is restricted and fixed to another structure, the body is forced to compensate. This creates abnormal points of tension and chronic irritation gives way to functional and structural problems throughout the body.
Imagine scar tissue around the lungs. Every breath requires movement but the scar tissue alters the normal pattern. This could shift rib movement creating pulls on the spine resulting in mid-back and neck pain, and limit shoulder movement. 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.
Here’s a link to the Barral Institute, it’s where I got my training: