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What is Visceral Manipulation?

Visceral Manipulation is the evaluation and treatment of the dynamics of motion between organs, membranes, fascia and ligaments.  It was developed by world-renowned French Osteopath and Physical Therapist Jean-Pierre Barral. 

As a fetus develops, the organs generate in a ‘stacked’ form inside the abdominal cavity.  Over time as the baby grows those organs migrate into their position within the cavity itself in a process called motility.  This motility is maintained throughout the lifespan, giving the organs an ability to shift, compress, slide and glide on each other, sometimes up to inches at a time!  They must be able to move to respond to our natural musculoskeletal movement as well and have been found to depress significantly even with breathing. 

Motility has been found to be restricted due to previous surgery, scar tissue, inflammation in the system and many more reasons.  As a result, our bodies will compensate to avoid over-compressing the restricted/inflamed tissue.  Think of it as a card game; viscera, vasculature and nerves trump all.  If something is restricted or negatively impacting these tissues the body will sacrifice itself in mobility, posture and even strength to avoid compression of this tissue. 

For example, consider an abdominal surgery.  Following surgery, the body will naturally develop scar tissue as it heals.  This scar tissue does not have the same mobility and often can adhere surrounding tissues to itself which limits overall mobility of the system.  This has been shown to inhibit deep core muscle firing in many cases and can lead to many issues, the most prevalent being back pain.

In many of these cases, through Visceral Manipulation, the tissues can be gently approximated and released on each other.  The body reintegrates this natural motion, often leading to improved mobility and then the new motion can be retrained through exercise.​

Massage Therapy

Visceral Manipulation has been found beneficial for various conditions, such as: 

  • Whiplash/Seatbelt injuries

  • Somatic-Visceral Reactions

  • Chest/Abdominal injuries

  • Headaches/Migraines

  • Bloating/Constipation

  • Joint Pain

  • Nausea/GERD/Acid Reflux

  • Neck/Back Pain

  • Endometriosis/Pelvic pain

  • Scar Tissue

  • Autonomic Dysfunction

  • Anxiety/Depression

  • PTSD

Is Visceral Manipulation uncomfortable or painful?

Visceral Manipulation requires extremely specific knowledge of anatomy and skilled hands to differentiate tissues.  The work done should be gentle, as the tissues are taken into ease to approximate the system and promote relaxation and release of tissues.  So, no it should not be painful.


For further information on Visceral Manipulation, please visit

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