The human body is a remarkable piece of machinery. Take the hand, for instance. Under our touch and through our hands (along with the connections to the brain) we have the capability to perceive a haystack of information and find the needle within it.
A human lymph vessel, in the course of its normal action moves up to 100 microns within its environment. If you can’t picture a lymph vessel, they are extremely small and can require the use of a microscope to visualise. Given this, you might be surprised to learn the human hand is capable of detecting movement in the vicinity of one micron!
The hand is also very good at detecting temperature changes. It isn’t so good at assessing the degree of temperature, or even whether something is hot or cold, but it is very handy (!) at detecting change. All structures in the body, even when small, produce heat when they are in dysfunction. The hand is capable of picking this up along with adding some quality to the perception.
With these methods we are able to assess and treat the body for internal dysfunction and these techniques belong to a form of therapy called Visceral Manipulation, which was developed by French osteopath and physiotherapist, Jean-Pierre Barral.
Visceral manipulation assesses the dynamic, functional actions as well as the structures that perform those actions. It then assesses these structures and functions in relation to the surrounding tissues and environment to gauge how harmonious the pattern is within the whole body. For example, is the liver free and viable within its immediate environment and is it performing it’s multitude of functions? How does this then relate to the tissue around it (the right kidney or the gallbladder, for example) and how does it relate to the rest of the digestive system? Finally, how does that relate to the whole body, including (and perhaps especially) the brain?
Why might an organ not move properly or perform its functions? Maybe it is restricted by the immobility of its neighbour? Perhaps there are adhesions in its support tissue from surgery, illness, trauma or posture? Is the organ displaced? Does it have abnormal tone? All these and more create fixed points of tension that the organ and body are forced to move around and this in turn paves the way for disease and dysfunction in many systems of the body, including but not limited to: the vascular system; the neural system; the digestive system; the respiratory system; the urinary system; the reproductive system; the brain; and the musculoskeletal system.
It is worth noting that along with physical trauma, organs and other structures can also be affected by emotional trauma. A simple example of a viscero-emotional relationship that we’ve all had is getting nervous which leads to ‘butterflies’ in the stomach. Organs help us to ‘digest’ these emotions and if this is somehow prevented, we can store these emotions thus creating tissue disharmony. Sticking with the stomach as an example, some cases of stomach ulcers can be attributed to stress.
Treatment is very gentle and can be used on infants and adults alike. Visceral manipulation is a manual (hands on) therapy designed to promote fascial (support tissue in the body) mobilisation, tissue freedom and communication (cellular, organ, brain and whole body) in order to have that tissue, organ or system function unencumbered by compensations .