Visceral manipulation kinda sounds like a gaslighting tactic. But it’s actually a type of massage for your organs!
Lots of folks claim it can help relieve digestive discomfort, stress, and chronic back pain. But does it really deliver? Or are they massaging the facts? We found out.
Visceral massage: FAQs
What is visceral massage? Visceral manipulation (aka visceral massage) is a hands-on therapy that focuses on your organs. The main area of focus is typically your abdomen. The goal is to relieve tension, improve connective tissue mobility, and encourage better digestive function.
Does visceral massage have side effects? If performed by a trained practitioner, visceral manipulation is generally safe for most people. But some folks have noted minor muscle soreness in the days following the massage.
Can you give yourself a visceral massage? Yes! A DIY abdominal massage can have some dope benefits. Just keep in mind that you’ll probably get better results by going to a pro.
What if you experience pain after visceral massage? You might experience a touch of tenderness after your massage, but severe pain is not normal after a visceral massage. Contact a doctor right away if you’re in extreme discomfort.
Visceral manipulation is a type of massage therapy. A practitioner will use gentle manipulations with the goal of improving mobility in your abdominal area. Peeps use it to treat digestive issues like bloating, cramping, and constipation. There’s also a chance it can reduce stress and improve back pain.
Traditional massage therapy that targets muscles can have major mental and physical perks, according to the American Massage Therapy Association.
But what about visceral massage? Here’s what the science says.
1. May be good for your back
A 2019 study examined 20 folks with internal injuries and chronic low back pain. Participants were split into two groups, and both groups received conventional physical therapy. Only one group also received visceral manipulation, and those folks showed much better lower back mobility.
Visceral manipulation may also help improve upper back pain. A 2018 study found that a single osteopathic visceral manipulation sesh (focused on the liver and stomach) improved upper trapezius muscle function and decreased cervical spine pain.
2. Might improve digestion
Visceral manipulation of the abdominal area can help kick-start digestion.
A 2018 clinical trial researched its effects on folks who had a tube placed in their throat (for a surgery or to help with breathing). The participants who received a 15-minute abdominal massage twice daily for 3 days had less constipation and less bloating.
FYI: This is promising, but we need more research to find out more about visceral manipulation’s effects on digestive issues.
3. Can help relieve constipation
Visceral massages may help solve your poop probs.
A 2016 study analyzed a small group of folks who were constipated after surgery. The participants who received an abdominal massage had more bowel movements than those who didn’t have the massage. The massage group also noted an increased quality of life.
Just keep in mind that we need more research to show the long-term effects of visceral manipulation as a way to combat constipation.
4. May help you feel less bloated
A small 2015 study found that abdominal massage can help reduce bloating. Participants received a 15-minute abdominal massage twice a day for 3 days. At the end of the study, folks said they felt less bloated and that their overall well-being levels had improved.
FYI: The massage had no effect on participants’ pain, fatigue, body weight, or nausea.
5. Could calm period cramps
A small 2005 study found that abdominal massages could help relieve period pain. Participants received a 5-minute massage once a day for 6 days before Aunt Flo’s visit. They claimed to have less cramping and discomfort than those who didn’t get massages.
Visceral massages are generally very safe when they’re done correctly. But keep these things in mind before you give it a try:
- Don’t have an abdominal massage if you’ve recently had surgery in that area.
- Talk with your doc beforehand if you’re pregnant or have other health concerns.
- To reduce your risk of indigestion, don’t eat for a few hours before the massage.
What to do if you’re in pain after a visceral massage
Some folks experience minor discomfort and muscle aches after a visceral massage. Symptoms can depend on how much pressure is used and how long the massage lasts. You can apply a warm compress to the area, do some light stretches, or take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
PSA: You should NOT experience intense or sharp pain after a visceral massage. Call your doc ASAP if the pain is unbearable or if the discomfort lasts longer than a day.
It is possible to perform gentle visceral manipulation on yourself. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Lie flat on your back.
- Rub your fave essential oil (or some massage oil) into your palms until your hands are warm (BUT be sure to dilute any essential oil with a carrier oil before using it on your skin).
- Gently press both hands into your lower belly.
- Start to make a large, clockwise circular motion around your entire stomach. Do this several times.
- Press your palm into the left side of your stomach.
- Apply even pressure in a straight line up toward your rib cage and then down to your pubic bone.
- Repeat on the right side.
- Press two or three fingers into your navel.
- Start to make clockwise circles around your navel.
- Repeat this routine once a day.
Psst: If massaging yourself isn’t comfortable, give your doc a call. They can suggest a licensed professional who’s trained to do visceral manipulation.
Visceral manipulation isn’t the only way you can relieve pain and reduce tummy troubles. Here are some top-notch alternatives.
Other options to reduce pain
Research suggests yoga is a great way to manage chronic back pain. A healthy yoga practice can also help strengthen and relax your body and mind.
Bonus: Studies indicate that yoga can also help relieve symptoms of digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.
Meditation isn’t just a great way to reduce stress — studies show it can also reduce physical pain and improve sleep quality.
Pro tip: Try a meditation app! They’re great for mindfulness newbies and seasoned pros alike.
Not everyone likes to have their tummy touched. If that’s the case, try another type of massage. Some popular styles include deep tissue, trigger point, and Swedish massage.
You can also try an at-home massage tool like a foam roller or massage gun.
Alternative treatments for digestive issues
Dehydration can wreak havoc on your digestive system. It can cause constipation, bloating, and nausea. So be sure you say hella hydrated on the daily.
A sudden switch in your dietary sitch can lead to stomach symptoms. You also may be bloated or constipated if you’re not getting enough fiber or other nutrients in your diet.
Try to keep things healthy and balanced by eating plenty of whole foods and limiting ultraprocessed ones.
A solid stretch sesh can help relieve digestive distress. Check out the best yoga poses for digestion to get your bowels back on track.
Visceral manipulation is a type of massage therapy that focuses on organs, especially in the abdominal area. Studies show it may relieve digestive issues like bloating, constipation, and irregularity. Some research also suggests it can reduce chronic back pain and relieve period cramps.
But is it right for you? Maybe. It’s generally safe, so if you don’t have any underlying health conditions, it may be worth a try. Just keep in mind that much more research is needed to confirm its benefits.