Part of the manual therapy umbrella, visceral mobilization (aka visceral manipulation) is a hands-on treatment technique used to mobilize the organs.
When everything in your body is working properly, all of your organs should move and slide over each other smoothly. Unfortunately, strain, overuse or poor posture can cause organs like the kidneys, bladder and intestines to get a little “sticky” which may lead to your internal tissues binding together. This can create adhesions which, once formed, may cause areas of tension that make the organs stick together. This can lead to discomfort and decreased function.
Visceral Mobilization is helpful for those who have had any type of abdominal surgery including hysterectomy, C-section, GI surgeries, etc. It can also be beneficial for those who have a lot of scar tissue, common in athletes who play sports with a lot of blunt-force trauma such as football or hockey. The same way that we get scar tissue in the knee joint, scar tissue can form around the organs, limiting motion. This scar tissue is actually formed by your body as a type of protection. Visceral mobilization can be very relevant for lower back and hip pain and may also help with digestion issues like constipation. Though it may seem like a massage as your physical therapist is performing visceral mobilization, they’re not actually changing the tissue. Instead, they’re attempting to elicit a neurological response or more simply, trying to direct the brain’s attention to a specific area in order to get the tissue to relax.
This video created by Albert W. Stern explains the process in a very simple, straightforward way: