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4, Glynville Terrace, Gardens. Cape Town, 8001

021 461 2142

Visceral Manipulation demo

What is Visceral Manipulation?

Visceral Manipulation is a non-invasive therapy that requires extremely specific placement of gentle manual forces to encourage movement of the viscera (organs) and their surrounding connective tissue. In the words of Jean- Pierre Barral, the founder of VM:

“The purpose of Visceral Manipulation (VM) is to recreate, harmonise and increase proprioceptive communication in the body to enhance its internal mechanism for better health.”

Barral originally studied Physiotherapy before completely a Diplomate in Osteopathy. He is one of the very few clinicians who also had access to the cadavers of his patients- which allowed him to observe direct correlations between the symptoms his clients were experiencing and their internal fascial restrictions. His anatomical knowledge is secondary only to his astounding palpatory skills.

Due to the profound results that therapists obtain using VM, Jean-Pierre Barral was cited by TIME Magazine as one of the top healing innovators to watch in the new millennium!!

What can I expect in a VM session?

Just like in a normal Physiotherapy session your VM session will begin with taking your history, listening to your symptoms and discussing your desired outcomes/goals.

Then a brief examination will follow where the therapist will lightly place their hands on various parts of the body. It may feel like they are doing nothing, but they are tapping into your body’s connective tissue and assessing for areas of restricted mobility.

The therapist might also check the range of motion of various joints to look for any areas of restriction. These areas can then be used to validate the efficacy of the VM techniques that the therapist applies. For e.g.  in a VM session the therapist will usually do a listening/test, then apply one or two techniques to the identified area, then retest/re-listen. Because the areas being treated are often highly reflexogenic a tiny input is often all that is required for changes to occur.

It is particularly important to note that where you feel your symptoms is not always where the therapist will work.

Who can benefit from VM?

Everyone. No seriously, everyone.

Because VM is extremely gentle and the therapist’s goal is to assist the forces that are already at work in the body, VM therapists can be sure of benefiting the body rather than adding further injury or disorganisation. So, there are very few contra-indications for VM. Because the palpatory skills are so specific, therapists are often able to identify and treat the cause of the problem rather than the symptom. This means the effects of VM are often lasting.

Most notably VM is indicated as a tool for helping manage stress. Chronic stress has been shown to be associated with “significant disruptions in organ and glandular motility” (The Stress Code, page 85). Since VM is associated with restoring normal mobility and motility of our organs, glands and our vagus nerve it can have a significant reduction on stress levels.

VM is also safe to use on babies and children, however we currently only treat adults at our practice. Should you need the details of a practitioner who treats babies please contact us.

Why would you need VM?

Motion is a sign of life- everything in the universe is in motion. The same principle applies to our body- we are in constant motion. Even whilst sitting ’still’ to read this blog there is motion. Your heart is beating, peristalsis is happening in your bowels, your diaphragm is moving as you inhale/exhale etc. Our bodies need movement to be healthy, this includes our organs. For them to be able to function optimally they must be able to move through their full range of motion. Tissues lose their normal motion when they become inflamed or injured. Some common causes include: infections, direct trauma, surgery, repetitious movements, diet, environmental toxins and emotional stress.

So, if you have had any surgeries, traumas (either physical or emotional) or illnesses you would benefit from a VM session. As you can see most of us have experienced at least one, if not all, of the above during our lifetime. The World Health Organisation (WHO) now defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. VM is an invaluable tool in helping people achieve this state of health.

Don’t just take our word for it?

If you are one of those people who loves research and science, then please go to the Barral Institute website. There you will find ample research on the effects of VM including changes in EMG readings and MRI findings before and after the application of these techniques. If you click here you can even listen to an interview with the founder of VM, Jean-Pierre Barral.

Closer to home, The Stress Code, written by South African Richard Sutton, beautifully explains the intricacies of how VM can be used not only to reduce the effects of stress but also to bolster our immune systems- something that is extremely pertinent in our current circumstances.

And even closer to home, you can watch Tamsin give a brief, detailed video explanation of VM by clicking here .