Visceral Manipulation (VM) was created by world-renowned French Osteopath and Physical Therapist Jean-Pierre Barral. His clinical work and studies with the viscera (organs and vessels) over the course of many years led to his development of this form of manual therapy that focuses on the internal organs and their environment, and the potential influence they have on many physiological (functional) and structural dysfunctions.
An integrative approach to evaluation and treatment of an individual requires assessment of the structural relationships between the viscera and their fascial or ligamentous attachments to the musculo-skeletal tissues. Strains in the connective tissue of the viscera can result from things such as surgical scars, adhesions, illnesses, poor posture or injuries. When a strain occurs, tension patterns form through the fascial network deep within the body, which creates a domino effect far reaching from the original problematic source. This creates abnormal, fixed points of tension in various areas that the body must compensate for. This systemic irritation soon gives way to functional and structural problems.
VM helps to correct functional disorders and structural imbalances throughout the body, including musculo-skeletal, vascular, nervous, urogenital, respiratory, digestive and lymphatic dysfunction. VM evaluates and treats the dynamics of motion and suspension in relation to organs, membranes, fascia and ligaments. It increases proprioceptive communication within the body, thereby revitalizing the individual and relieving their symptoms, which include somatic pain, physiological problems and poor posture. Harmony and good health exist when motion throughout the body is free and natural – not when it’s depressed, labored or conflicted in any way.
VM relies on sensitive palpation of normal and abnormal forces within the body. By using specific and precise techniques, trained therapists can evaluate how abnormal forces interact with each other and how they ill-affect the normal forces in the body. The treatment goal then, is to encourage the body’s normal forces to alleviate the abnormal forces, wherever they may be originating from. The effects are not only in a localized area, but are often times global and encompass many areas of bodily function.
VM is based on using gentle manual forces to encourage normal mobility, motility (inherent spontaneous movement) and tone of the viscera and their connective tissues. These non-invasive manipulations can improve the function of individual organs, the physiological systems they function within, and the structural integrity of the entire body. Due to the delicate and often highly reactive nature of the visceral tissues, gentle force that is precisely directed reaps the greatest results. As with other particular methods of manipulation, VM works only to assist the forces already at work. In so doing, the therapists can always be sure of benefitting the body, rather than adding further injury, dysfunction or disorganization.
Methods similar to VM have been a part of the medicinal cultures in Europe and Asia since prerecorded times. In fact, manual manipulation of the internal organs has long been a successful component of some therapeutic systems in Oriental Medicine. So it’s no surprise that health-care practitioners in many parts of the world have incorporated into their practices, manipulations designed to work with the internal organs and their functions.