Visceral Manipulation:
What you need to know

Visceral Manipulation (VM) is a manual therapy with the specific goal of encouraging normal tone and movements both within and between the internal organs, their connective tissue, and other structures of the body where normal motion has been impaired.

Why is motion of the organs so important?
The diaphragm (large breathing muscle) moves up and down 24,000 times a day; as the diaphragm moves, so does our vital internal organs. If we have a restriction in soft tissue in an organ, it affects the movement and function of that organ and possibly others.

What should I expect during a treatment?
VM techniques are gentle but powerful, focusing on the fascia that surrounds and supports the organs. Working with a practitioner, you may find yourself lying on your back or in a seated position with the practitioner standing behind you. The practitioner works directly on your skin so wearing loose, comfortable clothing is ideal. The session involves several position changes, guided by your practitioner.

Who would benefit from VM?
VM can help treat a number of ailments; often used for chronic symptoms or conditions such as:


  • Low back/upper back/neck pain
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Sciatica
  • Pain in rib cage
  • headaches


  • Constipation/abdominal pain/acid reflux
  • Hormone/night hyperthermia/low energy

“If the primary pain is in the viscera and it has not been treated, the pain resulting from it will recur until the primary issue in the organs has been resolved”- A Pathway to health

How are internal organs related to body pain?
Between every segment of the spine, there are nerve roots that leave the spinal cord and travel to body areas of skin and muscle. Internal organs are highly innervated by nerves steaming from different levels of our spine. Having a dysfunction in an organ, can in time affect those areas of the spine it is connected to.

Examples of some visceral connections
Restrictions in the Liver may result in:

  • Neck pain, rounded shoulders, mid-back pain, sciatica, being hot at night, depression, digestion issues, and jaundice

Restrictions in the Stomach may result in:

  • Left sided neck pain, left side rib and back pain, left sided headaches and sinus problems, left SI pain, heartburn, heavy appetite and quick feeling of being full

Who developed VM?
Jean-Pierre Barral DO, PT,  formed the manual therapy of Visceral Manipulation based on this clinical work with thousands of clients. He spent years recording links between musculoskeletal system and viscera, through dissection and manual techniques. Jean-Pierre started teaching this therapy to US practitioners in 1985 and since then has trained a team of international practitioners who teach VM all over the world. The Barral institute is known for being the gold standard for VM education.

Resources used for this article:

Understanding the messages of your body”- book written by Jean-Pierre Barral

A Pathway to Health: How Visceral Manipulation can Help you”- book written by Alison Harvey  – The Barral Inst. Website