The visceral system relies on the interconnected synchronicity between the motions of all the organs and structures of the body. At optimal health, this harmonious relationship remains stable despite the body's endless varieties of motion. But when one organ cannot move in harmony with its viscera due to abnormal tone, adhesions or displacement, it works against the body's other organs and muscular membranous, fascial and osseous structures. This disharmony creates fixed, abnormal points of tension that the body is forced to move around. And that chronic irritation, in turn, paves the way for disease and dysfunction. Dr. Jean-Pierre Barral
Visceral Manipulation (VM) is a gentle hands-on therapy that works with the body's internal membranes and organs or visceral system (the heart, liver, intestines and other internal organs) to locate and alleviate any abnormal points of tension throughout the body.
VM employs specifically placed gentle touch that works to encourage the normal mobility, tone and motion of the viscera and the connective tissue membranes that surround each of the body's organ systems.
VM is used to locate and solve problems that develop due to constrictions in the viscera which can have impacts throughout the body's internal systems, as well as external muskuloskeletal systems. It encourages your own natural mechanisms of healing, which improves the functioning of your organs, alleviates the negative effects of stress, and improves overall health, boosting resistance to disease.
A trained practitioner uses the rhythmic motions of the visceral system to evaluate normal activity and movement or "fluidity forces" within the internal body. Harmony and health exist when motion is free; when there is no constriction of movement, when flow internally is not diminished, and when structures move fluidly relative to neighboring structures. Therapists using Visceral Manipulation assess the dynamic functional actions (movements) as well as the somatic structures (actual organ systems) that perform individual activities. They also evaluate the quality of the somatic structures and their functions in relation to an overall harmonious pattern, with motion serving as the barometer for determining quality of visceral functioning.
How Does Visceral Manipulation Work?
The human body is held together and given its shape by connective tissue. Developing early in fetal growth, all of the connective tissue in the human body is continuous. There is a lot of it: about 20% of the weight of the human body is connective tissue. Collectively this connective tissue matrix is the Organ of Support. Practitioners of VM work with the Organ of Support to assist clients to a better relationship to movement, gravity, and to life.
The membranes supporting the internal organs have multiple and extensive connections with the rest of the organs of support in the body. VM Founder, French Osteopath Jean-Pierre Barral demonstrated that manipulation of the visceral support system has profound and lasting effects on the organization of the rest of the body.
Imagine an adhesion around any of the body's organs. It would create a situation of strain that demands abnormal accommodations from nearby body structures. For example, often adhesions form in the pleural membrane surrounding one of the lungs due to coughing, colds or flu, or just normal aging. A pleural adhesion can alter rib motion, which creates imbalance to the vertebral column and alters breathing capacity, as well as posture and movement.
By releasing constrictions and contractures in the connective tissue layers of the viscera, tissue softens, becomes more pliable, and blood flow increases, allowing tissue to become rehydrated, bringing more flexibility and capacity for normal movement and healthy interaction with surrounding organs, nerves, and systems.
VM restores health to many of the systems of the body by direct work on that system, but also by the interrelations between systems that are re-balanced and can work better together when tensions and constrictions in each system are released.
Due to the delicate and often highly reactive nature of the visceral tissues, gentle force precisely directed has the most benefial results. As with other methods of manipulation that can profoundly affect the body, Visceral Manipulation works with the natural homeostatic or health-maintaining forces within the body. As a result, a VM trained therapist can assist the natural process of healing, subsequently relieving the injury or disorganization that has occurred within the system.
What are the Benefits of Visceral Manipulation?
The visceral support membranes have rich autonomic nervous system innervation. In fact, the number of neurons in the visceral support system exceeds the number of neurons in the spinal cord and brain stem. The nerve plexi of the visceral support system have been referred to as the Enteric brain or "Second brain". These nerve plexi function as a crucial entry point for our peripheral and central nervous system. When there are injuries in the viscera, we may experience a variety of symptoms, such as pain, nervousness, even mood changes and sleep disturbances. By addressing the problem, VM relieves these varied symptoms.
Visceral Manipulation is Useful For:
- Swallowing difficulties
- Digestive problems
- Incontinence problems
- Back and neck pain
- Shoulder and hip pain
- Carpal tunnel & other repetitive strain injuries
- Whiplash and other physical trauma
- And many other conditions
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