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 therapy re-establishes the body’s ability to adapt and restore itself to health.


How Many Sessions Does It Take?

Most clients experience improvement after three therapy sessions approximately three-four weeks apart. You and your practitioner will develop a treatment plan based on your needs.

What Does It Feel Like?

Underneath the pain or diagnosis 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 as the body returns to greater health. This could take several days to occur after the Visceral Manipulation treatment.


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. Different emotions affect different organs. Emotional reactions can translate into simple spasms in the gallbladder to 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 Did Visceral Manipulation Begin?

Jean-Pierre Barral is an osteopathic physician 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, its 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 the potential influence on structural and physiological dysfunctions. The term he coined for this therapy was 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 Visceral Manipulation seminars around the world. He has authored numerous textbooks for healthcare professionals, has also authored a book for the general public, Understanding the Messages of Your Body, which discusses the important link between our organs and our emotions. How can Organs Cause 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 the internal organs (viscera). Your organs are in perpetual motion. When you breathe, walk, 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 a little over one 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 lifestyle, 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 motion 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 removed from the actual cause.


The secret of the spine… what lies ahead.

Our spine feels like the center of our body, but in fact, it is in the back! In front of our spine, lies the esophagus, blood vessels, nerve bundles, organs, and our lymph system. If any of those structures has a restriction, it may pull on the vertebrae closest to it. The ligamentous sac around our hearts has connections to our spine from levels C6-T4. Our esophagus is closest to our spine from C6-T4 where it does a curve around our aortic arch before descending down to the stomach. Ligamentous fibers connect our thyroid to our pericardium all down our throat to our chest. Ligamentous structures attach the floor of our mouth to our throat as well. Any restriction along these structures could show itself as neck pain. Previous illness, emotions, or trauma could have caused these restrictions. How do you know if any of these structures are restricted? You may have neck pain, upper back pain, or loss of mobility. Schedule a manual therapy session with Valerie and she will use her diagnostic methods to find which structure would like more mobility. The techniques are painless and quite relaxing with long lasting results.


Visceral Manipulation can benefit:

Chronic musculoskeletal pain

Headaches and Migraines


Back, hip and knee pain

Repetitive strain injuries, e.g. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Whiplash and other physical trauma

Shoulder periarthritis and capsulitis

Restricted range of motion


Post-surgical pain and Scar tissue

Post-cardiac surgery

Swallowing difficulties

Acid Reflux and Heartburn

Women’s health issues


Fibroids and Cysts

Bladder incontinence

Crohn’s Disease

Liver disorders

Digestive disorders

Pediatrics issues

Neuromotor problems

Ward off infection

Emotional disorders

Anxiety and Depression

Post Tramatic Stress Disorder

and much more