Updated: Aug 26, 2021
What is visceral mobilization?
Visceral mobilization is a gentle manual therapy treatment approach that addresses tension in the connective tissue within and around our organs.
Each organ is actually anchored to our skeletal system by tendons, ligaments, fascia or other soft connective tissue. Therefore, restrictions within our musculoskeletal system can cause issues in and around our organs... AND dysfunction, inflammation, or scar tissue in our organs can cause restrictions within our musculoskeletal system.
For example, right shoulder pain could be an issue with your rotator cuff or it could be caused from restrictions surrounding your liver, gall bladder or colon (or more than likely a combination of both).
Why is this important?
You may have heard before that our body is connected. Well, it's true. We are all connected together by a complex tissue in our bodies, called fascia. Fascia is a band or sheet of connective tissue beneath our skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates our muscles and other internal organs. Fascia is classified by its function and anatomical location.
Our visceral fascia is what encases our organs. And, due to its role of suspending and stabilizing our organs, it needs to maintain its integrity. If it is too lax, it contributes to organ prolapse, yet if it is hypertonic, it restricts proper organ motility.
So, how is this related to my chronic low back pain? Gut pain and/or constipation? Pelvic pain or dysfunction?
There are two main reasons...
1) Our brain will protect our organs first and foremost. Our brain will send signals to our musculoskeletal system to tighten up to protect our organs if there is any threat or perception of threat. Plain and simple, if our organs cannot do their job, then we cannot continue to function.
2) In order to function properly, our organs are required to move freely. For example, when we take a breath, our spleen moves out of the way to make room for our diaphragm to expand.
Therefore, addressing tension in our abdominal wall around our organs can help people with orthopedic concerns because they are anchored to the the musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, ligaments).
The goal of visceral mobilization, or manipulation, is to restore the movement of the connective tissues (i.e. fascia) that surround our organs. In return, this can relieve tension and restrictions in our surrounding structures (i.e. muscles) that became painful.
Don't just take our word for it...
There is ample research about the effectiveness of visceral manipulation including changes in MRI findings and EMG readings. Studies have confirmed the benefit of Visceral Mobilization for the following issues according to the Barral Institute:
Acute Disorders: Whiplash, seatbelt injuries, chest or abdominal sports injuries, concussion, traumatic brain injuries
Musculoskeletal Disorders: Chronic spinal dysfunction, headaches and migraine, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, peripheral joint pain, sciatica, neck pain
Digestive Disorders: Bloating and constipation, nausea and acid reflux, GERD, swallowing dysfunctions
Women’s Health Issues: Chronic pelvic pain, Endometriosis, fibroids and cysts, Dysmenorrhea, bladder incontinence, effects of Menopause
Pain Related to: Post-operative scar tissue, post-infection scar tissue, autonomic mechanisms
Pediatric Issues: Constipation and Gastritis, persistent vomiting, Vesicoureteral Reflux, Colic
Emotional Issues: Anxiety and Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
What should I do now?
Have you struggled with troubling symptoms that no one seems to understand? Have you been to multiple providers and specialists who run tests only to leave you without answers or worse yet, feeling like it’s all in your head? And still, your symptoms persist.
If you are (or know anyone who is) struggling with pain and not getting answers, we urge you to learn more about this gentle and beneficial option for promoting health.
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