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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Visceral Manipulation for Inner Health

Oct 30, 2013 08:30AM ● By Jonina Turzi


Even when we are sitting still, our inner bodies are moving, our tissues expanding and contracting along regular axes within us. The French physiotherapist Jean-Pierre Barral may have been among the first to discover that each organ in the body has a regular, intrinsic, oscillatory motion. The relatively small motion our organs undergo can have huge, measurable effects on the rest of the body, and restrictions that interfere with the movement of the viscera can lead to a host of internal medical problems.

Tissue damage and the restrictions upon internal organ mobility that it causes can result from surgical scars, infection, stress, inflammation, illness, posture or traumatic injury. One common example is an old appendectomy or cesarean scar that leads to chronically abnormal pelvic movements as the body “hugs” the lesion and suffers compensatory tension. Another common case is restriction to the pleura (membranes) of the lungs from childhood pneumonia and a resultant dysfunctional ribcage/shoulder/neck syndrome.

Manual therapists that search for the root causes underlying patients’ musculoskeletal symptoms can help. Visceral manipulation (VM) incorporates organ-specific fascial release techniques aimed at rebalancing the oscillatory harmony of the inner body. Using gentle pressure, a therapist will identify the area of movement loss, find the direction of ease and apply sustained pressure to encourage the barrier to release. This often leads to an immediate restoration of tissue buoyancy and mobility along the axes of motion, while at other times, repeated sessions are needed to enable the restricted organ system to move freely.

Barral claims that VM increases the body’s ability to sense and integrate the positions of the internal organs. He discovered that around seven times per minute, our organs take in and release fluid in a cycle that corresponds with the organs firming and softening as they expand and contract around a precise axis. This cycle, which usually takes place without our conscious perception, holds the key to the healing potential of VM—soft, specific placement of manual forces can facilitate the organs’ vital oscillations, the systems within which the organs function, and the integrity of the whole body. This means that VM can have a healing hand in the treatment of internal medical problems that include digestive, reproductive, stress-related or sleep disorders and nervousness or emotional imbalances.

Examining the body introspectively, we discover an observable respiratory pattern or heart pulse rate. Many mindfulness practitioners reap benefits from time spent noticing the flow of relaxed breathing. Similarly, through mobilization and conscious awareness of healthy organ motility, we access a resonant way into the parasympathetic (relaxed) state of being from which we facilitate ourselves in digestion, assimilation and detoxification of food, events and energy.

In masterfully relaxed awareness of our own fluid dynamics, we also refine how we sit, stand and walk. When people function in tune with their biorhythms, we experience optimal pressures within our joints, especially the spine and ribs. We naturally align our bodies for utmost efficiency, our motion initiates from the core muscles, or center, and it becomes easier to move sustainably through time and space. Visceral manipulation restores the vital wave of movement that carries us all.

Deepak Chopra states, “Picture a school of fish swimming in one direction, and then in a flash, all the fish change direction. There is no leader giving directions,” he says. “It all happens simultaneously. This synchrony is choreographed by a great, pervasive intelligence that lies at the heart of nature and is manifest in each of us. When we learn to live mindfully, we become aware of the exquisite patterns and the synchronous rhythms that govern all life.”

Jonina Turzi is a doctor of physical therapy, certified in functional osteopathic and neurologic rehabilitation techniques. Her physical therapy business, formerly in Rohrerstown, will adjoin her new yoga studio, West End Yoga, at 221 W. Walnut St., in downtown Lancaster. For more information, visit

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