Discovering the Bowen Technique
The human body is a wonderful machine and it is quite possible the most complex information-processing system that has ever come to existence. It is the human body’s dynamic framework that makes the Bowen Technique work. The Bowen Technique particularly anchors on the human body’s innate ability to heal itself.
The Bowen Technique is a non-invasive procedure that is carried out on clients or patients with the goal of resetting the body so that it could heal itself. It involves manual application of gentle motions, often done with the thumb and fingers, across muscles, fascia and tendons. Gentle rolling motions are applied on certain areas of the body like the muscles on the sides of the spine, for instance. The moves made on the body will trigger a reaction from the patient’s body. The body’s natural response to these motions is to heal itself. Though it may be easy to confuse, the Bowen Technique is not a massage therapy nor does it involve deep tissue manipulation, but rather a different type of gentle physical therapy.
The Bowen Technique is named after the Australian, Thomas Ambrose Bowen or more commonly known as Tom Bowen. The technique is also called many other names such as Smart Bowen, Integrated Bowen Therapy, Fascial Kinetics, Neurostructural Integration Technique (NST), Bowenwork, and Fascial Bowen. In the 50’s and the 60’s, Tom Bowen developed the technique, and by the year 1975, it had already been treating around thirteen thousand patients each year. It had an 80% success rate at eliminating the symptoms which are connected with a number of conditions. The Bowen Technique has gained much popularity since then.
The Bowen Technique may be performed with the patient lying down on a table or a bed, and may even be done with the patient sitting in a chair. As mentioned, the technique is non-invasive. It is so non-invasive that most of the procedure may be done over light clothing.
Aside from the minimal non-invasive gentle motions of the Bowen Technique, another distinctive feature (perhaps the most distinctive of all) of the technique is that pauses are incorporated within the session, in between sets. After each set, the therapist will leave the room or simply allow the patient to rest for a certain amount of time before starting with the next set. These breaks in between sets are what allow the person’s body to reset itself. These pauses give the body some time to respond to the Bowen moves accordingly. Being that the Bowen technique has a very high potential to affect the body, it is important that the body is given enough time to process its response. When not properly given breaks, the body may feel it is being bombarded with confusing signals, and in instances like these, the body’s response may only do more harm than good. When done properly, the Bowen motions will have a calming effect on the Autonomic Nervous System and will release stress at a very deep level. The body is set-up to heal itself. Unlike other physical forms of therapies, the body is not forced to change with the Bowen technique. Instead, the body is given the choice to make the positive and necessary changes to bring itself back to homeostasis or to its healthy state.
The length and the number of sessions required of the Bowen Technique will depend on the skill and experience level of the therapist, as well as the presenting complaints of the patient. An initial session, however, will address the whole of the body where the gentle rolling motions will be first made over the lower and middle sections of the back and legs, on towards the upper back, the shoulders, the neck and ends with the client in a facing up position. A positive response may be often seen with most patients after only one session. Patients have been known to be relieved of chronic pains within three sessions. Some conditions may require longer sessions, depending on the body’s response to the Bowen moves. To properly maintain optimum health, Bowen patients - even those who were easily cured, are advised to seek regular treatments every six to eight weeks.
The Bowen Move
The Bowen Move is a very distinctive motion and it is applied at very specific points and parts on the body of a patient. It involves the stimulation of soft tissue in a particular way. The move often consists of a rolling-type of motion made by the thumbs and forefingers. This motion is meant to trigger a reaction from the tissue and stimulate the nerve pathways in order to create a focus for the brain. The distinct motion of the Bowen move uses the slack in the superficial portion of the skin to move over the underlying tissue, instead of slide or flicking over the skin surface.
Bowen for Mothers and Babies
The Bowen Technique can become a very useful and essential part of the lives of mothers, mothers-to-be, and babies. In the care of women’s health both during and after pregnancy, the Bowen Technique is highly sought after. For pregnant women, it is one of the few therapies that allows for them to sit or lie down during the complete session.
A woman’s body will undergo a tremendous amount of physical change during pregnancy. Her center of gravity will change, causing a significant amount of stress on the spinal column. Commonly encountered problems during pregnancy are often directly accounted to the spine, and whether it is under some form of stress or not.
Aside from the spine, the pelvis of a pregnant woman is also especially vulnerable resulting from the stress it bears from carrying the baby. The pelvis becomes more supple during the latter months of the pregnancy due to the hormonal changes of the body. By this time, the expectant mother may feel backaches with increasing intensity and increasing frequency, as the baby inside the womb grows heavier. As a result of the pelvis’ vulnerability, the spine, and other supporting muscles and ligaments may in turn experience strains as well.
Swollen feet and hurting legs are not uncommon with pregnant women who are in their last trimester. This may all be attributed to the extra weight she is carrying. Also, the raised levels of some hormones will result to water retention, hence all the swelling and the feeling of bloatedness. Water retention is often obvious in the feet, ankles, and calves because there is pressure from the growing uterus on the veins that carry blood back from the lower extremities.
Fatigue results from total exhaustion. A pregnant woman’s body is expected to be working double time as she goes through her everyday life all the while creating and nurturing new life inside her womb. More blood is needed to be pumped, causing the heart rate to increase, plus more water and nutrients are being used up.
The Bowen Technique can relieve these common pregnancy pains easily, and almost immediately by relieving the stress from different parts of the body. All common pregnancy pains mentioned stem from focal points which the Bowen Technique can target. As a summary, the common pregnancy pains that the Bowen Technique can relieve include:
- Sciatic pain
- Hip pain
- Tenderness of the breast
- Leg and foot pain
- Nausea and dizziness
- Decreased energy levels
- Swelling and bloatedness
During childbirth, the Bowen moves can open up the pelvic floor and greatly ease the process of giving birth. The Bowen Technique relaxes the pelvic muscles and ligaments, which will allow the baby’s head to move with ease through the birth canal. It reduces contractions and helps the mother to focus, feel relaxed and be more comfortable.
The act of childbirth puts the mother’s body under a significant amount of stress, and particularly strained is the musculoskeletal system which includes the spine, pelvis, supporting muscles and ligaments. Lower back and pelvic pain may persist even after childbirth. Given that the Bowen Technique encourages the body to heal itself in a gentle and non-invasive way, it may be used following childbirth (including delivery from caesarean method) for perineal healing. The Bowen moves can help the pelvis and the uterus to reset and revert to their original form and position while strengthening and regulating the body conditions.
Bowen therapy for babies or Baby Bowen is possible for newborns even within a day or two after childbirth. The Bowen Techniques is so gentle that it may be performed on newborns and elderlies alike. Baby Bowen can help relieve a baby’s physical discomfort that may be a result of the baby’s maladjustment or a strenuous birth. It is very effective in giving comfort to babies who exhibit restlessness due to causes that may not be immediately obvious to concerned parents. Some issues which Baby Bowen can assist with include:
- Unresolved physical issues that may affect the baby as a result of an arduous birth
- Misalignments in the spine due to labor
- Chest infections
- Colic and reflux
- Indigestion due to retained air in the baby’s gut.
- Slow bowel movement which can cause discomfort to the baby.
- Tension in the muscle tissues of the neck caused by routine handling of the baby
- Overloaded nervous system
- Premature babies
Bowen and Asthma
Asthma is one of the many conditions that the Bowen Technique can effectively relieve. Children and adults alike experience a level of asthma relief as a result of undergoing the Bowen Technique. Due to its gentle and non-invasive nature, the technique is safe to administer on patients suffering from asthma and other similar respiratory problems. Previous cases have shown the technique to have immediate effects on asthmatic patients. The good news is that these immediate effects are long lasting, meaning that only a few sessions will be required to achieve the desired results and treatment need to be continued no longer.
As an important part of the treatment, patients suffering from asthma still need to avoid allergens, which may trigger the asthma attacks. The Bowen Technique serves to release chest tightness to aid asthma patients as well as those presenting with similar respiratory problems.
Asthma happens when the airways or the bronchi, which carry oxygen to the lungs, become inflamed. This inflammation causes the airways to narrow and results to difficulty in breathing. The lining of the airways will swell, accompanied by the production of mucous. The diaphragm, under normal conditions, contracts during inhalation of air and relaxes during exhalation. During an asthma attack, the diaphragm remains partly contracted. The constant contraction of the diaphragm will cause the the asthmatic patient to increasingly breathe in while having less capacity to breathe out. The symptoms of an asthma attack include wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Asthma has numerous triggers including dust, animal hair, cigarette smoke, sudden change in temperature, dry air, and even excessive laughing.
The key is the diaphragm. The Bowen Respiratory Procedure involves relaxing the diaphragm and other supporting muscles. This results in the reduction of the severity and frequency of the asthma attacks. The Bowen Emergency Asthma Procedure can help even in the event of a full asthma attack. In a full attack, the diaphragm goes into a full spasm causing the stomach and chest to appear collapsed inwards. The emergency Bowen is quick and safe to administer. By applying the Bowen move on the soft stomach area, the diaphragm is immediately released from full spasm and air is released from the lungs. This procedure may also be used in releasing light spasms of the diaphragm during a wheeze or cough. Only a gentle pressure is needed when the diaphragm is in light spasm. Other conditions like panic attacks and anaphylactic shock may also be relieved with this procedure.
Medication reduction is possible with the Bowen treatment. After starting with the Bowen treatment, most children are slowly taken off medication or at least a significant amount of medication is reduced. It is important to note, however, that these medications serve to safeguard a child from major attacks and life-threatening situations. Reduction of medication should, therefore, be always under the guidance and advice of a licensed medical practitioner.