Visceral Osteopathy

Viscera is another word for organs.   In Osteopathy we are aiming to work to improve the movement of the body so it can express a persons’ full health potential.   Our job is to find whichever tissue needs help to do that.  Sometimes it is the joints, muscles or nerves.  Sometimes it could be the organs themselves or the connective tissues that connect them.

All organs need to be able to move freely within their cavity.   The lungs, heart and vessels in the thoracic cavity.  The digestive, urinary and reproductive organs in the abdominal cavity.  If an organ can’t move with some freedom, it can’t perform it’s tasks.  The liver can’t detoxify. The intestines can’t absorb nutrients and expel waste. The spleen can’t make optimal amounts of white blood cells. The lungs can’t transfer gases.

Sometimes organs can be restricted in their motion due to problems within their own cellular structure.  Eg liver cirrhosis causing congestion of blood motion through the liver.   Sometimes the restriction is more to do with tensions in the ligaments and connective tissue structures that connect the organs to each other and to the inside of the body.  A traumatic impact like a whiplash can cause these kinds of tensions to be stored around the organ.  Or even chronic postural compressions.  Like slouching stopping the lungs from being able to expand fully within the rib cage.    There can also be restrictions of movement from previous illnesses, inflammatory processes or surgery causing adhesions.  Pneumonia can cause scarring of the pleura – the bag that holds the lungs, appendicitis or diverticulitis can cause scar tissue just from the inflammation of infection.  Any abdominal surgery can result in some restricted glide of remaining organs as the body heals the scar tissue.

Our aim is not to break up scar tissue.  It’s to allow the return of a full range of motion with gentle mobilising techniques just like we might use on your muscles and joints.  Just very specifically applied as Osteopaths are such anatomy nerds!  Given a little bit more motion, the organs can function to do their job and you feel the health benefits straight away.

One of my teachers, Jean- Pierre Barral, used to say that nobody can have a chronic Right shoulder problem without their being some problem in the liver.  The shoulder can be stuck down onto the ribcage which is on top of the diaphragm just above the liver.  If the liver can’t glide, the shoulder can’t lift like a free wing to allow the arm to move.

We listen to the tissues of your body to find where you need more glide and motion.

So the next time we ask to feel your stomach, that’s what we are doing.  Supporting your whole health to express itself.    If you have any questions about this that you think might be relevant in your treatment or for someone you know, ask us.  We love this work!

If you want to read further about this:

What is Visceral Manipulation? (

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