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All About Bowen Therapy

About Bowen

Bowen therapy is a gentle therapy that is applied to specific areas of the body using thumbs and fingers. The move is a rolling type movement using the slack of the patient’s skin and rolling over the target area with light to moderate pressure. The Bowen Technique addresses the entire body by restoring balance via the autonomic nervous system. This system controls over 80% of the body’s functions. Bowen helps the body shift into rest, relax and repair mode, during sessions clients often drop into deep relaxation or fall asleep. Sessions generally last 30-60mins. Bowen can be done for a specific injury, chronic conditions or for general relaxation.

History of Bowen

Tom Bowen (1916 – 1982) from Geelong, Australia began developing the Bowen Technique in the 1950's. He was interested in ways to alleviate pain and began to notice that certain moves on the body had particular results. Over many years he developed his technique through the meticulous observation of his clients posture and compensation patterns. His philosophy of ‘less is more’ along with the observation that there is an innate ability for the body to heal itself was the foundation of his technique. He believed that often all that is needed is the smallest assistance possible for healing to take place. From its Australian origins Tom Bowen’s innovative and unique technique is now being taught and practiced worldwide.

What to expect during your Bowen session

The client rests on the massage table wearing loose clothing. The therapist will do several movements over specific muscles, tendons or nerves, then will pause and leave the room for several minutes allowing the body’s nervous system to begin responding. The therapist will return and assess the tension in the muscles and continue with several more moves, then exit the room again. This pattern continues for the length of the treatment. The element of allowing the body to rest between movements is very important, it is during the breaks where the work starts to take effect. The most fundamental principle of Bowen is that it is the patient’s body doing the healing. The therapist just gives the nervous system a prompt and the rest time allows the body to respond to that prompt. Sometimes clients are left to rest at the end of the treatment for 10-15mins depending on how they are feeling. This is always discussed with client at the time. During a session clients are free to talk and ask questions or may be asked to report any sensations in the body.

After a Bowen session

After a Bowen session clients are encouraged to walk and move around every 30mins on the day of treatment. This is to help the body integrate the work. Reactions to Bowen in the days following a treatment can be varied and often belie its soft and gentle approach. Stiffness, soreness, or mild headache are common, demonstrating that the brain and body have started the process of repair. This process, when started, is generally rapid and it is not uncommon for even longstanding pain to be reduced or resolved in two or three treatments. Although musculoskeletal problems such as frozen shoulder, back and neck pain are the most common reasons for seeking Bowen treatment, it can also be helpful with more organic problems. Clients have reported significant improvements with stress, anxiety, insomnia, asthma, migraines, irritable bowel, fertility issues and other reproductive problems.

As with all types of bodywork, some bodies respond well to Bowen and some don’t. If the body responds to the treatment, then it can and will start the process of repair. If it doesn’t respond, then no harm is done and you have spent an hour of quality relaxation time.

Patients are also advised to increase their water intake and to continue gentle walks or their own exercise programs as tolerated. Bowen treatments may take several days to integrate so clients are asked not to partake in any other bodywork for 5-7 days. If the client has any questions or concerns they should contact their therapist.

Conditions Bowen has been known to help

· Anxiety, Depression & Stress-related conditions

· Back/Neck pain or Sciatica

· Digestive & Bowel problems

· Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia

· Sports Injuries

· Headaches, Migraines

· Hormonal Imbalances

· Post-operative recovery

· Respiratory conditions

· Gynecological conditions (also fertility issues)

· Whiplash injuries

· Carpal Tunnel & Repetitive Strain Injuries

· Post-Dental trauma, temporo-mandibular joint problems (TMJ), jaw disorders (e.g. clicking)

· Newborn baby problems (e.g. colic, feeding problems & sleep-related problems)

· Joint problems (e.g. Tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, ankle & knee problems)

Is Bowen therapy safe? Bowen is very gentle, relaxing and non-invasive, involving no manipulation, and is therefore ideal for everyone including children and the elderly. It can assist recovery from many conditions from a traumatic injury to chronic illness, depending on a person’s ability to heal. If you have any concerns or questions, speak to your therapist before treatment.

How many treatments will I need? Usually the minimum recommended is 2-5 sessions. More sessions may be required in certain chronic conditions while other conditions resolve after 1 session. If, after 2/3 sessions you are not feeling any change in your condition we will discuss other treatment options. The number needed is generally determined by the nature of the health issue, how long you have it and the state of your health. Bowen sessions can be repeated through-out the year for maintenance, to promote general well-being and for stress relief.


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