The Bowen Technique
Bowen is a holistic, non invasive hands on therapy. It involves gentle rolling type moves over specific points on muscles, tendons, nerves and fascia. The moves are performed using thumbs and fingers applying gentle pressure. The moves are sequenced together into procedures which in turn makes the treatment work on a deep, dynamic and often profound level.
Bowen can offer relief for many types of injuries and other health problems both acute and chronic, using the body’s innate healing mechanisms.
The Bowen Technique rebalances soft tissue – muscle, fascia, ligament and tendon, and energises the circulation and lymph, and brings balance to the nervous system so that the body, whether for the very old, sick, young, athletic, or disabled, can perform to the maximum of its ability.
The Bowen Technique is a system of gentle but powerful soft tissue mobilizations that affects the body both structurally and energetically to restore its self healing mechanism. It is painless, non invasive and safe to use on anyone from the newborn to the elderly and provides lasting relief from a wide variety of acute and chronic conditions.
Bowen is brilliant for sports people, it is fantastic for every person from the very old to the newborn baby, for pre and post pregnancy, pre and post surgery, for the terminally ill or for people with degenerative disease’s.
Bowen Therapy is used all over the world to encourage the body to heal itself. During a treatment of Bowen Therapy, ‘moves’ are performed using thumbs and fingers applying gentle pressure. The moves are sequenced together into ‘procedures’ which in turn makes the treatment work on a deep, dynamic and often profound level. This non-invasive technique stimulates the neuro-muscular physiology with the aim of balancing and stimulating the body's energy flows and encouraging self-healing.
What Can Bowen Therapy Treat?
Bowen is a great therapy for most people including sports enthusiasts, athletes, gymnasts, dancers, for the very old to the newborn baby, people who work in an office, for labourers, before/during and after pregnancy, pre and post surgery, for the terminally ill, for rest and relaxation, or for people with degenerative disease’s.
Benefits of Bowen
- Pain relief
- Reduced stress
- Enhanced mobility
- Improved energy level
- More efficient immune system
- Improved circulation
- Lymphatic drainage
- Repetitive strain injuries solution
- Headaches and migraine relief
A Bowen Treatment
A bowen session will last about an hour, but the actual treatment will be anything from 20 – 45 minutes. The client, if possible, will lie on a very comfortable therapy bed. If the client is unable to lie down then the bowen tratment can also be done with them sitting or standing. The treatment can be done through thin clothing or directly on the skin, which ever is preferable.
The bowen treatment involves several sets of moves, on specific areas of the body (called procedures). After each procedure the therapist gives the client a small rest period (approximately 2 minutes) which allows the body and brain to start responding to the treatment. Each treatment is tailored to the clients specific needs, which is always on a holistic level.
If the client is lying down, then they will lie on their front to begin with so work can be done on their back, shoulders, gluteals and legs, and then the client will turn over to have further work done on their knees, neck and head, and if required pelvis, abdominals, hamstrings, shoulder, elbow, ankle, foot, or face. Virtually any symptom and be addressed.
After the treatment, the client will sit up and have a drink of water and we will review together the work done, how the body felt through the muscle tissue, fascia, nerves and lymph and circulation, and what may be needed for the next treatment. I may also suggest simple exercises that can be easily done at home to help the body to rebalance itself.
How Bowen Works
The Bowen Technique does not focus on a single symptom but on the body as a whole, restoring balance via the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS controls over 80% of the body’s functions and is heavily influenced by external stressors. The ‘bowen move’ communicates through the ANS in such a way that it triggers a rebalancing process for muscle, nerves, lymph and fascia (connective tissue). The ANS is divided into two areas, sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) and the para-sympathetic (rest, relax, and repair mode).
Due to the stresses of everyday life a huge majority of people live in the high alert sympatheitic mode, contributing and even causing many imbalances in the mind and body (knotty and tight muscles, physical and mental tension, anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart conditions, cancer, stroke, and so on).
The Bowen Technique helps to trigger the para sympathetic nervous system to over-ride the sympathetic nervous system, and therefore allowing the body to run in a balanced way, calming everything down and becoming able to cope with the everyday stresses, potentially alleviating the a fore mentioned conditions.
The Bowen ‘move’ and How It Works
The Bowen ‘move’ although extremely simple works in a very dynamic way. It has a dramatic (but gentle) effect on the muscle, connective tissue (fascia), nervous system, lymphatic system, and the circulation, in fact every single single area of the human body.
The first part of the bowen move draws the skin slack back and then applies a gentle pressure on the skin, fascia, nerve and muscle, this ‘hold’ is the first signal to the ANS to stop, pay attention, and then re start in the para sympathetic mode.
The next part of the bowen move gently rolls over the muscle, tendon, ligament, and nerves which sends a ripple through the tissue. This ripple is like a mini shock wave which excites the cells of these tissues. As a consequence of this movement the muscle tissue loosens becoming softer and the toxins in the tissue become freer and are gradually carried away by the increase of blood circulation. These toxins are carried to the lymphatic system (which is also now working to a greater potential) and taken via the lymphatics to the kidneys to then be excreted out of the body.
Tightness or congestion in the connective tissue (fascia) can have a huge detrimental effect on the body causing many problems, including having a detrimental effect on the muscle, circulation of blood and lymph, and nerve endings.
The gentle bowen move pushes the skin over the muscle which creates a sliding effect on the connective tissue (which lies between the skin and muscle). This movement creates a lot of energy and subtle movement in the fascia tissue, freeing toxins, and increasing oxygenated blood and allows the fascia to be restored to its correct state.
With the muscle tissue and connective tissue being loosened through the bowen move it allows for fresh blood to be carried into these areas by the circulation. This oxygenated blood feeds these tissues like a ’breath of life’ and in turn the muscle tissue becomes fuller and stronger and healthier allowing the body to be in a much better state of balance.
As the bowen move is gently rolling over the muscle it is also very gently rolling over nerve endings which are located in the muscle tissue. These nerves travel all the way to the central nervous system (up the spine and into the brain). This very gentle stimulation is where the ANS stops and starts up again in the para sympathetic mode and nervous system imbalances start to be corrected.
Bowen moves are often in key lymphatic areas where there are bundles of lymph nodes. The rolling movement of the bowen move is great at stimulating these lymph nodes and freeing off congested tissue in the area that had become compromised to the sluggishness of the lymphatic system.
Drinking plenty of water and doing walking is crucial after a bowen treatment because it helps the lymphatic system to carry toxins to the kidneys so they can be expelled from the body.
After a bowen treatment it is important to drink plenty of water to help flush toxins out of the body. It is also very important that you do some 15 – 20 minutes walks which will increase your circulation to carry the toxins to the kidneys where they will be flushed out of your body by all the lovely water you are drinking! If you cannot walk then trying to stay mobile is also very useful.
Do not do excessive exercise for the first 48 hours after your treatment, or do exercise your body is not used to. Avoid exercise that could be the culprit for your imbalance.
Avoid very hot or cold showers or baths.
Do not stop prescribed medication without consulting with your doctor.
During a course of bowen treatments do not receive other therapies such as massage, reflexology, osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture etc.
Pilates or yoga exercise can be very beneficial in helping the body to rebalance following a course of bowen therapy.
History Of Bowen
Tom Bowen (1916-1982) was a very intuitive, gifted and self taught healer who developed his ‘soft tissue manipulation’ therapy independent from any formal medical training, but he did his own anatomy and physiology study from books and observation. He lived in Geelong Australia (his parents emigrated from Wolverhampton before he was born) with his wife and children, and worked at a cement factory. He started to treat the occasional person, using his intuition on how and where to work on the body with staggering effect. Very quickly his reputation grew and at the age of 43 had a full time practice in ‘remedial therapy’. He was recorded by the Victorian Governing Webb report to have treated 280 people per week, an astonishing 13,000 people a year, with an 88% success rate. He never advertised his work and his patients came to him through word of mouth.
A few people had the honour of observing and documenting Tom’s work, and Oswald Rentsch was one of them. After Tom’s death in 1982, Oswald began to put Tom’s work into a trainable format for other to learn it, and it was named The Bowen Technique.