What is Bowen?

Bowen Technique

(For more information on Bowen Therapy please visit www.thebowentechnique.com)

The Bowen Technique is a remedial, hands-on therapy that is applied using very gentle pressure. The practitioner uses thumbs and fingers on precise points of the body to perform Bowen’s unique sets of rolling-type moves which stimulate the muscles and soft tissue of the body. There is no manipulation or adjustment of hard tissue and no force is used. The experience of a treatment is gentle, subtle and relaxing. It is believed that the Bowen Technique prompts the body to reset, repair and balance itself and clients report the experience of pain relief, improvement of function and recovery of energy.

What Does It Treat?

What responds well to the Bowen Technique? In short, almost everything can respond well to Bowen treatment and this is why:

The Bowen Technique is a non-intrusive complementary hands-on therapy. The technique is based on the theory that gentle moves over precise points of the body can prompt the body’s innate ability to relieve pain, restriction and imbalance without the need for deep, manipulative or forceful treatment. Bowen practitioners work holistically with their clients and expect to work alongside allopathic health professionals to support optimum health for their clients. For example, one of the most common complaints for which people seek Bowen treatment is back pain.

The average number of treatments people have is three to four. There are always exceptions to any rule, and some people will need further or even on-going treatment.

Painful and restricted shoulders are also a particular favourite as are neck pain, respiratory conditions and headache patterns. Bowen is being widely used for sports injuries as well, with rugby clubs and premiership football clubs showing interest. Not only do sportsmen report fewer injuries when treated regularly but they also notice enhanced performance.

The Bowen Technique was developed in the 1950s by Australian Tom Bowen. Training courses in Mr Bowen’s technique were first offered in the late 1980s in Australia and came to the UK in 1993.

PLEASE NOTE: The Bowen Technique should not be used as an alternative to seeking medical advice.

How does it work?

There have been many theories put forward in the past relating to why Bowen works and there are many people who, conversely, believe that we don’t need to know. They may have a point but these days there is much more that we can understand and acceptance from the medical community and wider use of the technique by health professionals will come from a better understanding of what happens during a Bowen treatment. Recently the concept of the way in which the brain reacts to neural stimulus has been looked at in more detail and is the subject of ongoing research by ECBS.

The brain emits in the region of 600,000 signals per second, all of which both send out signals and in turn receive information from the body. A muscular movement for example begins from the primary motor cortex at the front of the brain and is sent, via the spinal cord, to the arm or leg where it is translated into movement. In order to gauge this, however, the brain needs to receive a signal telling it what is happening and what to do next and this it does via the parietal lobe of the brain.

The effect is a kind of looping circuit travelling at massive speeds, sending and receiving information. A Bowen move which is a series of gentle rolling moves, followed by breaks at certain intervals, interferes with this signal and creates another set of parameters for the brain to examine. Once the brain starts to reorder the signals it is also able to reinterpret the information coming from other areas, an example of why Bowen will often set off reactions in areas that haven’t been treated.

An example of this kind of signalling comes from Dr V. S. Ramachandran, a neurologist in the USA. In his work with amputees who suffer from phantom pains, he came across one man who was experiencing a clenching sensation in his amputated hand. By using a mirror to reflect the intact hand, the looping signal from the brain that was creating pain, was changed, as the brain ‘saw’ two hands and stopped the “clench” signal to the amputated hand.

Research is continuing in this area but explains a lot of the peculiarities surrounding Bowen, especially the serendipity of the treatment, whereby areas not treated are often affected by Bowen.

How is it different from other therapies, such as chiropractic, osteopathy or physiotherapy?

All these therapies are excellent therapies, but Bowen differs in several respects. Osteopaths and chiropractors often use adjustments or ‘cracks’ to realign the structure of the body. They will make a diagnosis of the patient and treat the area of concern. With Bowen therapy the approach is rather different. The therapist will take a case history but the treatment does not set out to treat specific conditions or ailments. Instead, the body is treated as a whole unit, without referral to named disease. For instance if someone came to a Bowen therapist with cancer, we would not claim to be able to help the cancer or even to treat it. Instead we are trying to help the person.

For more information on Bowen Therapy please visit www.thebowentechnique.com