Visceral Osteopathy & Abdominal Massage
What is Visceral Osteopathy?
Viscera means organ and visceral osteopathy is a branch of osteopathic treatment that focuses on restoring balance and equilibrium to the internal organs of the body and their associated tissue structures, particularly within the abdominal and pelvic cavities.
What techniques are used within Visceral Osteopathy?
Sometimes visceral osteopathy is likened to abdominal or ‘Stomach’ massage. Gentle tissue manipulation and release are used to improve function and relieve tension of the viscera and their associated tissues such as ligaments and fascia, which hold and suspend the organs and also contain the vessels that supply them with nutrients and provide neurological communication and feedback to the brain. Visceral Osteopathy is also used within the context of general osteopathic treatment, and other areas that may be contributing to dysfunction are also treated where relevant.
What is the difference between Visceral Osteopathy and Abdominal Massage?
While treatment style can vary from practitioner to practitioner, abdominal massage usually has more flow and is more general than visceral osteopathic treatment or visceral manipulation. A comparative example might be the difference between having a osteopathic or physiotherapy treatment and a general massage. Visceral Osteopathy is generally more specific in its application compared to abdominal massage. Sometimes a fusion of both modalities may be used depending on the presentation of the patient and why they have come for treatment.
Why do people come for Visceral Osteopathic treatment?
While there are many reasons for people seeking out visceral osteopathic treatment, common presentations that are seen at the practice are a range of digestive issues, for example, constipation or bloating, just to name a couple. Other common reasons are general pain and discomfort in the abdomen, sometimes known as visceral hypersensitivity. Some people also come because they feel they hold stress and tension in their abdomens which affects their general well-being, no different to some people holding their stress and tension within their neck and shoulders.
Do you only treat the abdomen?
No. The body is a three-dimensional complex structure and so needs to be addressed that way. In addition to Visceral Osteopathic techniques, General Osteopathic techniques such as mobilisation and soft tissue are used. While much of treatment may be abdominal focused, other areas of the body may hold restriction and be a contributing factor to the problem. Many of the ligaments and fascia of the organs attach to the spine, and the vagus nerve, which is vital for our rest and digest state, wanders all the way from the head and neck to the digestive organs. Digestion also starts in the mouth, so issues with the jaw, often known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD or TMJ) can also be treated. These areas therefore would be treated when relevant. Breathing is also another important component, not only for optimal digestion, but for overall good health. In addition to being shown good breathing technique, osteopathic treatment can aid good breathing mechanics by addressing any restrictions in the thorax, neck and diaphragm.
How does Visceral Osteopathy and abdominal massage help with stress?
The gut plays and important role in our overall health and well-being. When we are in a state of chronic stress we are living within what is known as a sympathetic state. While this state helps us when there is an emergency and for a temporary amount of time, when we are constantly living in this state, it becomes chronic and can affect our health, physically, mentally and emotionally. Our digestive process relies on the parasympathetic part of our autonomic nervous system, especially via the Vagus nerve. helping us to rest and digest. When we are constantly in a sympathetic state, our body thinks were are in a state of danger and therefore it keeps its energy for our stressful state, ready to take flight or fight, which in turn reduces our parasympathetic state and prevents our digestive process from working optimally. Seventy-percent of our immune system is within our gut so when our gut isn’t functioning properly it may also affect our immunity and its ability to function optimally. Managing stress in our lives is vital for good health.
Visceral Osteopathy and abdominal massage can help induce feelings of deep relaxation which may help to improve vagal tone and improve our parasympathetic state. Whether you have digestive issue or not, having a general treatment can aid your overall health and well-being.