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The Ins and Outs of the Bowen Technique Therapy

The Ins and Outs of the Bowen Technique Therapy

The Ins and Outs of the Bowen Technique Therapy

Developed by the Australian Tom Bowen in the 50’s, the Bowen Technique has since then gained popularity after a number of success stories from thousands of patients. The distinctive feature of the Bowen Techniques is its gentle non-invasive nature and the breaks integrated within each session. The technique essentially works by stimulating the human body to heal itself.

ins and outs of the bowen therapy technique

The body is a complex system that works and functions as a whole. It is natural for an imbalance in one system to cause an effect elsewhere. The Bowen Technique is holistic and dynamic, and often has an impact on a number of symptoms that a person may be suffering from.

What is the Bowen Move?

The Bowen move consists of gentle rolling-type moves done by the thumb and forefingers over a number of specific locations or parts of the body that may be suffering from disturbances, blockage, stress, injury or postural changes. The soft tissues of the targeted areas are stimulated in a specific way and the nerve pathways are triggered to send a message to the brain, which will then instruct the body to activate its healing processes.

How does the Bowen Technique work?

The Bowen Treatment works by unleashing the body’s innate ability to heal itself, which may have been thwarted due to a long-standing injury or due to an imbalance in the body’s homeostasis. Although it will take some time, the body heals itself, and when it does, it does so permanently, leaving the patient free of any discomfort. Because the Bowen move is gentle and is not painful, the defense mechanism of the body will not be activated, instead the body is stimulated to look for an appropriate response. Signals are then sent out by the nervous system to the different parts of the body, in an effort to look for a proper response. As a result of the signals being sent out, the blood flow to the different parts of the body increases. Increased blood flow to the different parts of the body serves to correct any imbalances, as if the body has undergone a reset.

In the course of one session, a series of Bowen moves are made over a location of interest on the body’s surface. After the small number of Bowen moves, the therapist leaves the room to allow the patient to rest and to give the body the time to process the signal it has been sent. These breaks in between moves are a distinctive part of the Bowen treatment. The breaks give the nervous system of the body to respond with the correct action. Also, while in the process of looking for the proper response, other information from the other parts may be gathered by the body. Thus, it is common for areas not specifically being targeted by the treatment to respond as well.

Bowen Technique Therapy

Bowen patients may be treated lying down on a bed or a massage table. The bowen procedure may be even performed on patients who are not capable of lying down, pregnant women for instance, by having the patients sit in a chair. The procedure is usually done with the patient fully clothed, though some therapist prefer performing the Bowen moves directly on the skin.

Bowen patients may be treated lying down on a bed or a massage table. The bowen procedure may be even performed on patients who are not capable of lying down, pregnant women for instance, by having the patients sit in a chair. The procedure is usually done with the patient fully clothed, though some therapist prefer performing the Bowen moves directly on the skin.

Each treatment renders the body of the patient to be deeply relaxed due to the different areas of the body releasing unwanted stress and unnecessary tension. This deep relaxation will leave the patient feeling re-energized with an improved sense well-being, free from pain and discomfort.

There will be a minimum of 3 sessions with most patients. These sessions are usually 5 to 10 days apart. Bowen patients are advised to undergo maintenance treatments every 6 to 8 weeks or as necessary in order to maintain their most favorable health.​

Who can undergo the Bowen Technique?

The Bowen Technique is a gentle and non-invasive treatment that can be of essential use for the lives of everyone, from newborn babies to the elder people. It resets the body and sets it up to heal itself - an ability that is common to everyone. Bowen treatment can improve and shorten the rehabilitation time of an injury, no matter how recent or how old the injury might be. Patients presenting with chronic pain and symptoms can undergo the Bowen treatment and experience relief as well.

What can the Bowen Technique help with?

  • Back pain and pelvic pain
  • Frozen shoulders
  • Sports injury
  • Repetitive stress injury (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Heartburn
  • Kidney and bladder disorders including incontinence
  • Knee and hip restrictions
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Sciatic pain
  • Skeletal and muscular problems
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Chronic pain

Bowen treatment excels at relieving back pain and a number of other discomforts that may be related to the spine being under pressure. Patients presenting with back pains often undergo an average of three treatment sessions. The length and the number of sessions required of the Bowen Technique, however, will still depend on the patient’s response to the techniques as well as on the skill and experience level of the therapist.

Bowen Technique Therapy

Bowen treatment can also aid in the relief of allergies and hay fever by addressing the many problems that are associated with the type of allergic reactions. For instance, there may be an existing digestive system disorder that needs to be addressed in order to relieve the hay fever or allergy symptoms. When a person ingests a substance or is exposed to food that the body does not recognize nor tolerate, an allergic reaction will occur and will trigger the immune system. The immune response includes watery eyes, itching, rashes, sneezing and runny nose. Intolerance, on the other hand, occurs when a person gets exposed to a certain amount of the disagreeable substances or food. This exposure may be too much for the body to handle resulting to a tip in the body’s balance. Stress levels and fatigue greatly affect intolerance. When a person is very busy and experiencing pressure, their tolerance levels will be decreased. Tolerance levels are high with people who are relaxed and balanced. The respiratory system may be affected as well, which may be causing the presenting symptoms. The Bowen Technique also has procedures to address this area.​

Patients suffering from asthma and other similar respiratory disorders also respond positively with Bowen treatment. Asthma in children and adults can be treated by the technique. The Bowen Technique can relieve symptoms of asthma by relaxing the diaphragm area or the soft stomach area. Under normal conditions, the diaphragm will contract during inhalation of air and will relax during exhalation. During an asthma attack, the diaphragm will go into spasm and will remain partly contracted. The constant contraction of the diaphragm will lead to a shortness of breath since the asthmatic patient will increasingly breathe in while having less capacity to breathe out. The Bowen moves for addressing symptoms of asthma involve stimulation of the diaphragm to encourage it to relax from its spasm. The relaxation of the diaphragm will then release air from the lungs. This can also work in an event of a full asthma attack. Patients show immediate and long-lasting effects after only a few sessions.

The Bowen Technique is becoming the remedial therapy for sports related injuries. Athletes who undergo regular Bowen treatment present with fewer injuries. Additionally, regular bowen athletes report an increase in their performance in their respective sports activities.

Bowen treatment regulates the menstrual cycle in women and enhances fertility in both men and women. It brings the nervous system to a state of balance and releases blockages that are preventing the body from functioning optimally.​

Bowen Therapy for Pregnant

In pregnant women, Bowen treatment can help the body adapt to its fast-changing state by constantly bringing the body back to an equilibrium. It can help with mood changes due to hormonal changes, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, and morning sickness. As mentioned, the Bowen treatment can relieve lower back pain and other presenting problems related to pressure on the spine. It is very helpful in managing swollen legs and ankles, cramps, heartburn, gastric discomfort and reflux.

Bowen Technique Therapy

Bowen treatment can also aid in the baby’s optimal positioning prior to delivery. During labour, the Bowen technique can relax the pelvic muscles and supporting ligaments and therefore allow the baby to be delivered more easily, with the baby’s head being able to move more deeply into the birth canal.

It increases the mother’s ability to keep focus and relax during labor, thus allowing for a more comfortable delivery. Furthermore, the Bowen treatment also plays a role in postpartum care and healing. With its gentle and non-invasive nature, Bowen moves may be immediately performed after childbirth to trigger the body’s natural ability to heal itself. The pelvis and the uterus are returned and reset to their normal position while the body regains its strength. Bowen treatment promotes lactation in mothers and aids in managing pains that may be experienced during breast-feeding.

Bowen Therapy for Babies

Bowen therapy for babies relieve discomforts brought about by a strenuous childbirth and the baby’s failure to quickly adjust to its new environment. Treatment is possible even with newborns since the Bowen Technique is gentle and non-invasive. Baby Bowen can help with colic, indigestion, reflux, hiccups, chest infections, slow bowel movement, asthma, overloaded nervous system, muscles tension in the neck and restlessness. 

Dr Carolyn Goh, who has her practice in Violet Hill, St John's Wood suggests reading this Baby Bowen Guide ​. The guide is fairly comprehensive and aims to cover topics on colic baby and remediations through reference and video material

Can medication be reduced or even completely be done away with?

It is possible to reduce medication and even go off it entirely with the Bowen treatment. Most patients show positive long-lasting effects after starting with the Bowen treatment. Medication is slowly reduced until the patient is completely taken of it. An important thing to keep in mind is that reduction of medication should always be done under the supervision and the the advice of a licensed medical practitioner.

What does it mean when the patient is still in pain after treatment?

The Bowen Technique has no definite reaction time. The response of the body will vary between patients, depending on their presenting symptoms and depending on their body’s healing ability. Each body will heal at its own pace. The good news is that it will do so permanently. When patients report a feeling of stiffening around the area of concern, this means that healing is actually taking place.

What does it mean when the pain returns?

The pain returning could mean that the body has experienced re-injury. Regular treatment with a therapist should be continued in order to identify what is causing the injury to recur over and over. The most common cause for recurring injuries is actually bad posture. Many patients, however, are able to successfully overcome these recurring pains by engaging in supportive exercises that correct bad posture. Supportive exercises may include yoga and pilates.

What is the difference of the Bowen Technique from the other therapies and massage?

The Bowen Technique is gentle and non-invasive. It is not a massage and does not involve deep tissue manipulation. It involves the stimulation of the soft tissues. It is a very gentle procedure that does not force the body to change in any way. It does not involve pulling and tugging from a therapist. The Bowen Technique works by administering very gentle rolling-type moves at very specific points in the body. The Bowen moves stimulates the body to look for a proper response in order to correct any imbalances and to restore its homeostasis. The effects of the Bowen Technique are long-lasting and permanent since there are no external manipulations and the body is carrying out the healing process itself.

Are the responses all the same?

Response to the treatment will vary between patients and will depend on their presenting symptoms. Not all reactions are the same, and not all reactions occur in the same timeline. Patients have different experiences during Bowen sessions. Most patients report feeling warm and deeply relaxed. On some occasions, patients have reported twitching sensations and a few have experienced a popping sensation in their ears. Another common reaction to the treatment is a rumbling stomach, which is actually a sign that the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated. Other reactions include soreness, stiffness, headaches, increased dream activity and flu-like symptoms.

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