Visceral Manipulation

Eat healthily, sleep well, breathe deeply, move harmoniously. Jean-Pierre Barral, DO, PT, founder of visceral manipulation

We offer visceral manipulation in West Seattle as a standalone service or as part of our integrated care appointments that also include acupuncture or naturopathic medicine.

What is visceral manipulation?


Visceral manipulation was developed by French osteopath and physical therapist, Jean-Pierre Barral. During his training, Barral began to work with the viscera (aka your guts) as a means of treating spinal issues. 

He recognized the relationship between the muscles and joints, the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system, the internal organs, and the spinal cord and brain. 

He discovered that areas of stress in the body could be located by palpating the abdomen and chest and noticing hot and cold spots in the tissue. 

Visceral manipulation is similar to craniosacral therapy in that it recognizes the concept of cellular memory (the idea that mental, emotional, and physical trauma are stored in cells, negatively impacting their ability to function) and the importance the fascial (connective tissue) system and its tension patterns in the body.

All organs and tissues in the body have an inherent movement pattern. Yes! Your liver is rotating around in a specific way as we speak! So are your bones, fascia, ligaments, muscles, blood vessels, nerves, membranes, and more! A dynamic or fluid system in which all these movements are balanced is a healthy system. 

When trauma occurs, these rhythms get stuck or misaligned and the ability of the tissue to function properly is negatively impacted. Visceral manipulation helps to release these patterns of restriction and restore the natural movement patterns of the tissues. It can benefit the musculoskeletal, fascial, lymphatic, endocrine, nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, urinary, and gastrointestinal systems.

Trauma can result from: 

  • surgical scarring and adhesions
  • illness
  • posture
  • emotion dysfunction
  • or injury


Tension patterns then form throughout the fascial network and create abnormal points of rigidity that the body must move around. This chronic irritation can produce physiological and structural problems. 

By using the specific techniques of visceral manipulation, practitioners can evaluate movement patterns and thermal energy in the area of concern. 

Visceral manipulation can gently release structures from their dysfunctional pattern and restore fluidity and health to the affected areas of the body.

What does visceral manipulation feel like?

Visceral manipulation uses light to deep gentle pressure. Most people feel very relaxed and sometimes fall asleep during treatment. 

Common sensations associated with treatment include: 

  • change in temperature in the restricted area
  • tingling
  • feelings of movement within the body
  • relaxation
  • decrease in pain
  • increased flexibility of the affected area

Please note that this is not an abdominal massage or an aggressive technique. Stretching, pulling, and intense compression of the tissues is not used.

What can visceral manipulation treat?

Visceral manipulation is an appropriate therapy for many conditions, especially chronic unresolved issues that most likely affect several body systems simultaneously. 

It is highly recommended after any surgery to help decrease scar tissue formation and adhesions.  

Visceral manipulation encourages your own healing mechanisms to improve the functioning of your organs, dissipate the negative effects of stress, and enhance mobility of the musculoskeletal and fascial systems.

Acute Disorders
Seatbelt Injuries
Chest or Abdominal Sports Injuries
Surgical Recovery

Digestive Disorders
Bloating and Constipation
Nausea and Acid Reflux
Swallowing Dysfunctions

Women’s and Men’s Health Issues
Chronic Pelvic Pain
Fibroids and Cysts
Bladder Incontinence
Prostate Dysfunction
Referred Testicular Pain
Effects of Menopause

Emotional Issues
Anxiety and Depression
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Musculoskeletal Disorders
Somatic-Visceral Interactions
Chronic Spinal Dysfunction
Headaches and Migraines
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Peripheral Joint Pain
Chronic pain

Pain Related to
Scar Tissue and Adhesions

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