Visceral Mobilization

Visceral mobilization is a gentle physical therapy technique that is typically performed in conjunction with traditional orthopedic physical therapy or pelvic floor physical therapy.

“Viscera” refers to the organs in your chest, abdominal and pelvic cavity.  

Mobilization refers primarily to the loosening of scar tissue/adhesions that can occur from multiple reasons including surgery, pregnancy and faulty posture.  

Everybody has a thoracic, abdominal and pelvic cavity. Each of the three cavities has either a positive or a negative pressure; the thoracic cavity is negative and the abdomen and pelvis have a positive pressure. Surgery in one cavity or even faulty posture can alter the pressures in the other two cavities.  For example, a forward head and rounded shoulders posture will make the thoracic cavity more negative in pressure.  By the law of equilibrium, when one pressure goes down, another goes up. Therefore, in this example, the abdominal/pelvic pressures increase which in turn can increase symptoms of constipation and pelvic pain/prolapse to just name a few. 

Visceral Mobilization can be used to treat the following conditions:

  • Constipation and bloating
  • Diastasis recti post pregnancy
  • Surgical scarring in the thoracic or abdominal regions including post appendectomy, hysterectomy, c-section or bowel surgery)
  • Thoracic trauma to chest or ribs
  • Unresolved shoulder, hip and back pain

Diastasis recti

Rectus diastasis is a normal separation that occurs between the right and left sides of your rectus abdominis muscle. The linea alba (a fibrous structure that runs down the middle of the rectus abdominis) widens and thins during pregnancy as the abdominal muscles and connective tissues are stretched out from the expanding uterus. This increased inner abdominal pressure from pregnancy and the pushing during delivery causes the rectus abdominis muscles to appear separated from each other. It is normal for this separation to occur, but if it remains too wide or too deep for too long after pregnancy, it can be difficult to use your abdominal muscles to create the core stability you need to lift/care for your children, clean house, do yard work or exercise.

If you are diagnosed with a diastasis recti, it has been shown that visceral mobilization is an effective way to resolve the separation by first loosening the connective tissue of the parietal peritoneum that lies below and is continuous with the linea alba. The parietal peritoneum surrounds your abdominal organs, bunches up together in two places (mesenteric roots) and then fans out around the small intestine. This “fan” is called the mesentery. When the connective tissue gets adhered or stuck to the mesenteric root or mesentery, no amount of abdominal exercises will unstick it. It is like trying to close a hole in pizza dough while someone is holding the crust parts to the edge of the pan. Visceral mobilization can unstick the connective tissue making it easier to bring the muscles together. Once this achieved, your therapist will begin the instruction of safe and effective abdominal/core exercises that will help you engage your core more effectively and pull the two sides of the muscle together. You will also be coached on how to engage your core during your activities of daily living in order to prevent separation.