Bowen Therapy: An Effective Approach to Many Issues

bowen therapy
June 17, 2020 0 Comments

Looking for a treatment that can address a plethora of issues like the following?

  • Aches
  • Pains
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

The answer is YES – Treatment does exist in the Bowen Therapy! Bowen Therapy is for you if you’re looking for:

  • An effective treatment.
  • A treatment appropriate for anyone of any age.
  • A whole body or a specific injury solution.

If you’ve ever heard of or received a Bowenwork or Bowtech treatment, then you already know about Bowen Therapy. For those of you who are unfamiliar, here’s the definitive guide on Bowen Therapy.

Bowen Therapy Defined

Bowen Therapy is a type of bodywork; some consider a kind of massage. It differs from the traditional Swedish massage or deep tissue massage, though, because it focuses on stretching the fascia.

  • Did you know all of your muscles and organs are covered in a soft tissue called fascia?
  • And this tissue can benefit from massage techniques to promote pain relief and the reset nervous system?

You may wonder how a therapist could manipulate the soft tissue on organs. That’s where Bowen Therapy comes in.

A Bowen Therapist uses precise and gentle, rolling hand movements on the:

  • Tendons
  • Muscles
  • Ligaments
  • Fascia and skin

These movements can inhibit the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Why is this important?

Your sympathetic nervous system is in charge of your fight or flight stress response while your parasympathetic nervous system is in charge of your rest and digest response.

If your system is all keyed up and stuck in fight or flight, all kinds of health conditions can arise. Let’s take a more in-depth look into the stress response.

Your Sympathetic Nervous System

Acute stress, which is experienced as an immediate perceived physical, emotional, or psychological threat, causes a sudden release of hormones to activate the sympathetic nervous system.

Included in these hormones are adrenaline and noradrenaline, which increase:

  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Breathing rate

Both real and imaginary threats can trigger the response. Typically it takes between 20 to 60 minutes after the threat is gone for the body to return to its pre-arousal levels.

In our culture, we are consistently bombarded by threats to our well-being— most of which are imaginary— so we tend to stay in the stress response rather than recover from it.

During the Stress Response

When you are in a stress response, your heartbeat, and respiration increase to provide the energy and oxygen to the body that will be needed to fuel a rapid response to the perceived danger.

If the heartbeat and respiration remain at these high levels, the heart and lungs are taxed. During the stress response, your body also shuts down any system that isn’t essential in fighting or fleeing- like your digestive system and reproductive system.

If you are consistently under stress or feel unsafe, then your sympathetic nervous system is probably on overdrive. You are on your way to having some serious health issues if you aren’t already experiencing them.

The Benefits of Bowen Therapy

Because of its gentle approach, Bowen Therapy is safe and appropriate for anyone to undergo, including:

  • Newborns
  • Pregnant women
  • The elderly
  • The chronically ill

Bowen Therapy has a wide variety of uses and benefits. It’s:

  • Been successful in treating musculoskeletal problems, such as:
    • Back and neck pain
    • Scoliosis
    • Sporting injuries
    • TMJ misalignment
    • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Renowned for its effectiveness with internal conditions, such as:
    • Migraines
    • Digestive and elimination complaints
    • Colic in babies
    • Respiratory problems, including asthma
  • An effective way to relieve pain and increase motor function.
  • Known to assist in controlling pain due to respiratory conditions like:
  • Used to treat:

What to Expect From Your Bowen Therapy Session

A trained Bowen practitioner should perform Bowen Therapy sessions. Expect your session to last from 30 minutes to an hour.

  • You will wear light, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Depending on the areas that need work, your therapist will have you lie or sit down.
  • Your therapist will apply gentle, rolling movements with their fingers on specific areas of your body. Bowen Therapists usually only use their thumb and index fingers to stretch and move the skin. They do not slide or flick their fingers over the surface of the skin but use the slack in the skin to move over the underlying tissue. The pressure will vary depending on what you need, but it won’t be deep or forceful.
  • Throughout the session, your therapist will leave the room for 2-5 minutes at a time to let your body respond and adjust.
  • Your therapist will repeat the movements if necessary.
  • At the end of your session, your therapist will provide self-care instructions and lifestyle recommendations.
  • Your symptoms could change during the session, after the treatment, or several days later.

Your therapist will determine the number of sessions that you need based on your symptoms, the severity of your condition, and your response to the therapy.

Why Does the Bowen Therapist Leave the Room?

You may have noticed something a bit different in the description of a Bowen Therapy session, than a typical massage session, and that is that the therapist leaves the room. To better understand, we need to get to know the creator of the Bowen Therapy, Tom Bowen.

Who Is Tom Bowen?

Tom Bowen had the unique ability to observe subtle imbalances in the body accurately. This allowed him to start the process of correcting the imbalances very quickly.

Interestingly, he would begin the correction process with a few well-chosen moves and then pause to allow the body to respond.

He would leave the client alone in the treatment room and then return several minutes later to see how the body responded and to determine if anything else needed to be done.

The College of Bowen Studies explains why and how these breaks work:

“One of the most interesting areas of the body is the brain. The basic function of the brain is to receive information from our sensory organs and interpret this information, such as light, sound, pain, movement. This enables conscious communication within our body. Neuroplasticity which is the brains ability to recognize itself by forming new neural connections, allows the nerve cells in the brain to adjust their activities in response to new situations or changes in their environment. This includes a stimulus through touch.

There is something like 600,000 signals that travel from the brain into the body every second, and these, in turn, come back to the brain with information that is then interpreted and sent back out.

Whenever we feel, hear, see, or even think something, the brain brings in past experience to categorize the sensation and create an appropriate response.

Your Brain

In the case of the Bowen move, the brain is unable to do this instantly and needs more information to form a response. As it is, just when the brain is asking for more information, the therapist has left the room, and therefore the brain has to send specific signals to the area to gauge a response.

If the client is lying down, the immediate response is nearly always rapid and deep relaxation. The client will also often report that they feel a tingling sensation or warmth in the area just worked on. It felt like your hands were still on me,” is a common comment.

Your Body

Although the breaks tend to be one of the least understood parts of Bowen Therapy, allowing the body a few minutes of rest so the body can initiate the process of repair on its own is a critical factor in Bowen Therapy.

In fact, the fundamental principle of Bowen Therapy is the client does the work, not the therapist, and for that to happen, the body needs time on its own, and the client needs to be left alone.

The length of the breaks varies from client to client, but, on average, clients are left for two minutes in between each set of moves.

Side Effects Associated With Bowen Therapy

Bowen Therapy hasn’t been extensively studied, so the possible side effects haven’t been formalized. But clients have reported the following after sessions:

In our experience, most of these symptoms are associated with the healing process and will pass quickly.

Did It Work?

With such a gentle approach and so little “hands-on” work done during the session, you may wonder if this thing works. It isn’t unusual for a client to walk out of the treatment room feeling little or no improvement.

But it’s not uncommon for a client to feel stiff, sore, or headachy in the days following. In fact, some clients even claim that they feel like they’ve been run over by a bus. These symptoms demonstrate that the brain and body have started the process of repair.

After started, the repair process is usually rapid, and it is not uncommon for even longstanding pain to be reduced or resolved in two or three treatments. Of course, as with all things, there are no guarantees. No single treatment has the same effect on every individual.

We find that most individuals respond to the treatment and that their bodies can and will start the process of repair. But on occasion, the body doesn’t respond, and in those cases, no harm has been done.

To Wrap It Up

The gentle rolling movements of a Bowen treatment activate a systemic response so powerful that a few minutes’ pause is required to allow them to be integrated. The soothing rhythm of the movements and breaks cause most clients to fall asleep at least once during the session.

Our experience is that benefits are usually apparent within a few sessions, even when longstanding conditions are being treated and that the results are lasting and profound.

  • Misalignments commonly right themselves – yet there is no manipulation of joints or bones as in chiropractic.
  • Muscle tensions and strains are relieved, and normal lymphatic flow is restored – yet muscles are not squeezed as in massage.
  • Meridians show immediate improvements – yet the work is not based on meridians and does not resemble acupuncture or acupressure.
  • Fascia rehydrates, adhesions release, and scar tissue softens – yet there is no heavy pressure as in Rolfing or deep tissue work.
  • Internal psychological shifts are common – yet it is not necessary to evoke an emotional response as in mind-body therapies.
  • Nearly everyone we treat reports a pleasant, relaxed state and a deep sense of well-being and ease.

You can see why we love the Bowen Therapy and recommend it to many of our patients.

We Can Help

If the Bowen Therapy sounds like the perfect solution for what’s ailing you or an appropriate complement to other treatments you are undergoing for health issues, call us for a consultation.

We won’t just make an appointment for a Bowen Therapist for you; we’ll partner with you to find the root cause of what is ailing you and collaborate with you to find the best treatment plan.

And even when you have completed your Bowen Treatments, we’ll stand by you because we know the good life isn’t about a quick-fix, it’s about implementing a lifestyle. And making long-lasting lifestyle changes can be challenging and even overwhelming, without proper support.

Here at Living Well Dallas, we bring compassion, wellness, and community together, ensuring you experience the support and care you deserve. Schedule a consultation with us today and learn what personalized wellness care in Dallas can do for you.

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