"I first came across the Bowen Technique when a friend I hadn't seen for a while recommended it. I had been struggling with a bad ankle injury, and was reluctant to go down my usual go to therapy. My friend told me that this therapy was 'not painful' and 'effective'. That was enough to convince me to give it a go, and needless to say it was very effective for me and I never looked back. I was so impressed that 2 years later I made the decision to make a career change and train in the therapy myself, and have been a Bowen practitioner since 2010"
Bowen therapy can offer you relief from muscular aches and pains, long-term injuries and illness, sport performance improvement, hamstring flexibility, improved health and flexibility, improved emotional and mental health wellbeing.
What is Bowen?
Developed by Australian Tom Bowen in the 50's, It only began to be known globally after Tom's passing in the mid 80's, when one of his students took the therapy worldwide.
Unlike many other manual therapies the Bowen Technique is non-manipulative. It is also very light and generally not at all painful. This is because the therapist works over the fascial (soft) tissue, which is just below the skin, so there is no deep tissue work involved.
This means the therapy is suitable for all ages, and has the added benefit that it can be performed through light clothing, so there is no need to undress.
The technique is commonly used to treat musculoskeletal injuries, whether a sports injury, back pain, sciatic pain, whiplash injuries, or joint aches and pain, but also a number of chronic conditions such as M.E, fibromyaliga, and Parkinsons etc.
The fascial tissue is a connective tissue and covers all our organs, muscle, and bones. This tissue can be in tension, creating tension and dysfunction in the underlying structures. The technique is often considered a fascial tension release therapy, so by releasing this tension, the body is able to reset, to structurally re-align and re-balance.
As this tissue we work with is close to the skin, the therapist touch is often light, as there is no requirement for deep tissue work. Apart from making this treatment gentle and relaxing, it also can be considered very suitable for people who cannot tolerate more aggressive, forceful or invasive treatment - from the frailest of adults to new babies.
A key element of the principle guiding Bowen is that the body be treated as a whole unit, without referral to a named disease/condition. Indeed, with Bowen we don’t diagnose and we are not treating just the named disease or condition, but we are treating the person, the person as a whole. Simply, if you have lower back pain, treating the just the lower back will very unlikely help long term. Finding the source of the dysfunction that is putting strain through the body (whole unit) and correcting this will remove that strain, allow the body to re-align and re-balance, and thereby remove the undue force on the lower back.
Assessment at the beginning, during treatment, and after is absolutely vital.
Understanding where the dysfunction and tensions are in the body, and where this is stemming from, allows the therapist to perform the necessary moves in the right areas, which in turn allows the body to make the appropriate correction. This can be re-assessed to ensure this work has taken place, and to get the person in to an improved balance. The pelvis and cranium are the key elements here. If these areas are in balance this gives the body a much better chance of repair. I have covered this in more detail in a blog you can read on this site, titled 'Stop the Pain, Stop the Rotation'.
Most of the treatment can be performed through clothing due to this being a non-manipulative therapy. Although each session will vary according to the presenting problems of the client as well as the skill and experience of the therapist, an initial treatment will address the whole body. As a general rule, moves will be made over the lower and mid back and legs, the upper back and shoulders before finishing with neck moves with the client supine (face up). Treatment duration is typically 45 minutes, although this can be shorter or longer depending on the client needs. As the therapy is releasing tension from the body, the treatment is generally very relaxing, which is also in part due to the effect it has on our nervous system.
Reactions and Responses
Post-treatment reactions to treatment are not uncommon and can include tiredness, thirst, an increase in original symptoms, stiffness, headaches, flu-like symptoms, increased dream activity. Aftercare advice given to each client will emphasise the importance of movement, the drinking of water and the return for treatment where necessary. More often than not any reactions are mild, if at all, and I believe are related to the hydration levels of the client. Someone dehydrated may have a greater degree of reactions.
Most people will have positive responses within two to three sessions, when even long standing pain has been seen to be relieved in many clients. Chronic conditions might need to longer, but in either case it is recommended that clients return for regular treatments every six to twelve weeks to maintain good health. Think how you would look to maintain your car at regular intervals to ensure optimum performance and longevity, and imagine doing the same for your body and mind.
Mixing with other Therapies
A general rule of thumb is not to receive other treatment whilst receiving Bowen, at the very least leaving a week between a Bowen session and other treatment. One treatment could certainly undo, or affect the work carried in a Bowen session and vice versa, but also it is then difficult to determine which treatment has had which effect on the body.
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