What is Visceral Manipulation?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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Visceral manipulation is the process of massaging and manipulating deep tissue to improve the functioning of the various organs in the abdominal cavity. There are several reasons that people choose to engage in this type of bodywork. Visceral manipulation is believed to increase circulation to the affected body parts and it is also used to remove adhesions that may restrict movement and cause discomfort. These adhesions often result in hypertonicity, or an increase in tension in the affected area of the body. Massaging the visceral organs is also believed to help relieve physical and mental stress, and help strengthen the body's resistance to disease.

The viscera, or internal organs, typically included in this type of bodywork are the ones located in the abdominal cavity. These include the heart, liver and large and small intestines.

Visceral manipulation has been a part of medical treatment since the beginning of time. There are ancient accounts of manipulating the abdominal cavity as a treatment for disease or poor health. Visceral manipulation was practiced for over 200 years in Tibet. In the late 1800s, visceral manipulation was widely used by medical doctors as treatment for many diseases. The practice fell out of favor as advances in other medical techniques were made. In 1985, however, the French osteopath Jean-Pierre Barral, a devotee of the practice, brought it to the United States. Today, visceral manipulation, like many other types of bodywork, is considered an alternative therapy.


Visceral manipulation is occasionally performed by a osteopath or medical doctor, but, just as often, a massage therapist, chiropractor or physical therapist will offer this service. Regardless of who you visit for bodywork, you should know what to expect. There is a strict "no pain" rule surrounding this therapy. It is important to communicate with your therapist during the procedure if you are feeling any discomfort.

The process is similar to a deep tissue massage. For your session, you will sit in a chair or lie on a table. The therapist will locate any restrictions or blocked areas by massage and manipulation, which tests your range of motion. During the session, which typically lasts 45 minutes, you will feel stress leave the body, and an increased feeling of calm.

Even those who do not believe they have any adhesions may benefit from visceral manipulation. Many bodywork experts believe that visceral manipulation prompts the release of the "feel good" hormone serotonin. This boosts the mood and relieves tension. Other benefits reported to result from the therapy are a decrease in healing times, increased immunity, and, for men, increased virility.


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Post 1

I have neck pain, and also scar tissue from two Nissen fundoplications. Need registered PT or therapist in Kansas City area. Do not want to have surgery, but would like to try alternative therapy, as sister in Texas, a registered massage and MFR therapist suggested.

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