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If the uterus itself is being 'stretched' because of distension in the ligaments supporting its place in the pelvis, it's natural contractions will become painful. The uterus wall is muscular and is active in keeping itself ready for the next reproductive cycle, the whole reason for the monthly period. If the muscle is not able to contract easily, it just has to push harder as its function during menses is 'not negotiable' to the body.
Visceral Manipulation is a gentle and respectful technique to help women resolve anatomical mal-placement and dysfunction of their otherwise 'normal' pelvis. When good physical placement is restored, the reason for much of the pain and cramping is similarly resolved. The ideal is that every woman only feels her period coming on immediately before commencement of flow; completing a painless period a few days later. A period should almost come as a surprise in ideal circumstances.
In the Author's clinical observations, the most common uterine/cervix misalignments are a retroverted uterus (the cervix and uterus have fallen rearwards, towards the rectum), followed by a lateral deflection where the uterus and/or cervix are being forced to one side or the other, twisting the cervix/vagina junction. A less common misalignment is an antegrade deflection (where the uterus & cervix are drawn forward, towards the front of the underlying bladder).
In each case, the strong ligaments that hold the uterus and cervix in anatomical alignment have some level of dysfunction, causing mechanical pressure on the cervix. This restricts the ability of the cervix to allow menstrual flow to pass through easily. When this happens, the uterus still has to eject the unused placental tissue and so contracts far more forcefully. These forceful contractions are the mechanism of the all-too-familiar period cramp.
Visceral Manipulation, extensively pioneered by JP Barrall, is a treatment modality where the practitioner uses gentle, direct pressure over the various structures and ligaments in an effort to rebalance the anatomical relationships within the pelvis (and body, of course). The experience varies from practitioners to practitioner with two primary groups of techniques, 'short lever' and 'long lever'.
Short lever technique is where most practitioners start. This is where pressure is placed directly on each problematic point, using movement of the practitioner's fingers and the client's body to facilitate direct manipulation of each ligament in turn. This is the most 'teachable' method and is incredibly effective in its own right.
The author uses long lever techniques resulting in quite a different clinical experience. The client is fully clothed and is moved through a series of flexes and stretches whilst a very gentle pressure is held over the problematic structures. The aim of long lever techniques is to influence the body to find, recognise and resolve its own restrictions using its own mechanisms.
Change does not come from the practitioner, but rather, from the client's own being. Results 'originating' from the client's own body are effective and immediate. No releases or changes are ever forced upon the body; that is trauma and bullying. All effective body work is about helping the [woman's] body find its own healthful balance.
Whilst not all period pain can be resolved so easily, I see excellent results in three to five visits in many cases. The first two or three visits are typically a fortnight apart and then monthly (for obvious reasons) from there. Caesarean deliveries, accidents, falls, lifting injuries and poor postural habits can all contribute to period pain. In most cases, causes of this nature are quite resolvable with gentle and painless visceral manipulation.
Painful intercourse, post-orgasm spasms and pain, as well as anorgasmia (inability to achieve orgasm) can also originate for the same reasons of organ and ligament imbalances. These will be detailed in upcoming articles, but for now, most cases in this group will respond well to visceral manipulation too.
Practitioners of Visceral Manipulation can be sourced through the Barrall Institute [This is an independent teaching organisation which has a practitioner sourcing facility]. For those on the Gold Coast of Australia, Craig's clinic, Ashmore Health Centre [link below], has limited places to see women seeking help for their painful periods. The author's specific interests lie in functional sexual and reproductive issues following physical and psycho-physical trauma, but all people seeking answers to their pain are welcomed.
Craig's Health Centre site with more information relevant to complementary health issues in general and with respect to Myotherapy in particular.
Craig's Business Support and Mentoring site with a huge range of resources and services directly aimed at small business in general and practice in particular.