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What is the Bowen Technique?

Bowen is a form of hands-on work on the body and comes under the complementary health banner.  The method was discovered and developed by Tom Bowen in Australia.  He found that by making ‘Moves’ on the body in very specific places he could effect a process that encourages & stimulates the body to release any tightness and restrictions in the soft tissue that were causing pain & stiffness.  ‘Fascia release’ (or ‘myofascial release’) is a bit of a buzz word that research in traditional medicine has discovered more about in recent years and Bowen has been ‘fascia releasing’ since Tom first laid his hands on a patient.  Fascia is the covering of every muscle, organ, blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments and bones and it is this fascia that connects everything to everything else.  A tightness in the fascia of your latissimus dorsi (lats) can affect the neck for example.  Imagine also how the lymphatics around this tightness will be blocked.  Targeting the fascia can have longer lasting effects on the soft tissue.  If the fascia isn’t treated as well as the original pathology, eg a sprained achilles, then recovery will never be as good as it could be.  It needs to be mobile & glide over & between other structures.  But Bowen is so much more than releasing the fascia.  Trigger points and acupuncture points also come into play on the location of the Moves.

Superficial Back Line Bowen Therapy Lorraine Wood Kent

These restrictions and tightness can be the cause of neck pain, back pain, joint pain – such as shoulder/elbow/wrist/knee, etc.  By releasing the tightness then the resultant aches & pains can be relieved.

 

The reasons behind why our soft tissue has tightness are many but an important reason is because our body does everything it can to remain stable.  Therefore, if the skeleton is not correct (through being born that way, or a joint being subluxated (‘out’), or arthritis then the body will lay down more fascia, which is collagen fibres, in weaker areas to make them more stable.  This will make us stiffer but at least we aren’t so floppy as to fall over!  Of course, repetative strain, overuse, poor posture and trauma are just some of the other reasons our soft tissue and muscles may be unhappy.

 

Click here Anatomy Trains - Dynamic Education for Body-Minded Professionals for Tom Myer’s Anatomy Trains website that gives more information about fascia & the particular lines of fascia in the body.

A highly magnified image of Fascia - Lorraine Wood Bowen Therapy

'A highly magnified image of fascia'

Click here for a fascinating video clip of highly magnified living fascia under the skin. Dr. Jean-Claude Guimberteau in ABMP’s Massage & Bodywork Magazine (youtube.com)

 

The Bowen Move is a relatively small move on the skin (it can be over clothing).  The locations are generally muscle edges or structural junctions of tendons or ligaments.  They can also be over neurovascular bundles or lymphatic vessels, meridian energy lines, acupressure points or fascial lines.  A few Moves are made and then we wait a couple of minutes to allow the feedback in the nervous system before making a few more and then waiting again.  For simplicity we can think of this as like tapping the water’s edge of a pond and watching the ripples expand out.  We can imagine this happening in the fascia inside our bodies.  We wait until the ripple has dissipated before doing more.  Doing that too soon will interrupt the energy of the ripple.

Ripple

From what we understand, the gentle stretching and rolling movement over the skin stimulates the neuro receptors (nerve endings) which the brain then interprets and feeds back to the body to initiate self-correcting releases of any tightness or spasm and realign itself.  The postural realignment that results means less aches and pains plus better biomechanics.  We don’t know exactly why this happens and as Bowen is a complementary modality, there is not much funding for research.  We therefore have to rely on the anecdotal evidence but this can often be so much more beneficial than a manufactured test, as it is real life.  Hundreds of thousands of people have benefited from a Bowen treatment.  Click here for a full list of issues that Bowen has helped.

 

All the magic goes on under the skin, it is not painful but the client may feel a tingling, a warmth or cold, or a general relaxation of where a Bowen Move has just been made.

 

For Maintenance

 

Most people diligently get their car serviced for longevity and breakdown prevention, similarly get their dental check ups, yet many people do nothing to keep their musculoskeletal framework from breaking down and ‘just put up with’ their aches and pains.  This doesn’t have to be the case and with regular bodywork we can keep as structurally aligned as possible, potentially preventing that catastrophic spasm that can be so painful, especially in the back.  

 

For The The Longer Term

 

Why do we need to keep our bodies structurally aligned and free from tightness?  Well, to be free from pain, aches and that stiffness when you first get up in the morning or even after sitting for a while is probably number one.  But actually, it’s the longer term benefits that we should be considering.  Think about what happens if a muscle is tight.  It will be pulling at where it inserts onto bone.  This will usually be across a joint.  The tightness will be pulling at that joint and simply put, create a gap.  It only needs to be a millimetre or less and the body will recognise that gap and lay down bone to fill it in.  Hence osteo-arthritis.  The reason osteo-arthritis is so painful is generally because the extra bone that has been laid down is gnarly and rough.  Preventing arthritis is just one of the benefits of keeping our bodies free of restrictions.  There are so many more.  “The best protection is prevention!”

 

Generally, people are so used to their bodies being broken that they don’t realise they are!

Back pain Bowen Therapy

So Much More 

 

It is not just the soft tissue & skeletal alignment that Bowen can help with.  The fascial & neural connections throughout the whole body can impact how an organ is performing.  When we understand that, we can understand that the digestive system, endocrine (hormones), lymphatic, circulatory, respiratory, urinary and reproductive systems may all feel the benefit of a Bowen treatment.  This is why Bowen is classed as a holistic (treating the whole body) treatment.

 

Many clients also report a reduction in their anxiety and love the relaxation that Bowen brings.

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