‘Is that all?’ Introducing The Bowen Technique
Sometimes I get the urge to put on my witch costume and cackle, Yes, I’m a Bowen therapist!
People mutter about magic hands when they leave a session where, although they have felt very little being done, their pain is reduced or gone. “What happened? Can’t possibly be what she just did. She hardly touched me.” The perception that it can’t work because it’s too light is being challenged by the results people see and by it’s growing popularity.
Light vs Deep. Bowen isn’t massage or deep pressure manipulation. It’s an alternative to these therapies. I love massages. I enjoy good, deep pressure when I have a therapeutic massage, but I don’t want to feel pain. It’s a personal preference. And when I’m already in pain I don’t want more! Some manipulation techniques use such deep pressure they can be very painful; they work, and if you like that, great. But sometimes a sports massage or physio session leaves you feeling worse than when you went in! That was my experience, which was why I went looking for something that worked but didn’t hurt. If you are used to deep pressure, you might find Bowen frustrating at first. There seems to be a general assumption that you need to feel deep, painful pressure for something to be effective. This is simply not true. A light touch used in the right way with the right intention is a powerful tool. Clients realise this when they leave pain free, or call 2 or 3 days later to say their pain has reduced dramatically.
So what is it? The Bowen Technique helps with problems such as back pain and sciatica, migraines and sports injuries, often when medicine or conventional therapy can’t. It is a soft tissue therapy that moves over fascia to reduce tension and pain in the body. While a Bowen therapist doesn’t manipulate bones in the way a Chiropractor would, the technique has an affect on the position of the bones. When you release the soft tissue, bones can shift.
What is Fascia? “Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together, the connective tissue network. You are about 70 trillion cells – neurons, muscle cells, epithelia – all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that binds them all together in their proper placement.” Tom Myers, “Anatomy Trains”
What happens in a Bowen treatment? When I treat someone, I use my fingers and thumbs to stretch the skin and then roll over the muscles, ligaments or tendons. These moves change the state of the fascia. The Bowen moves work by releasing tension, reducing pain and triggering the body’s healing process. After 4 to 8 moves I wait a few minutes before proceeding. These pauses are fundamental to the technique; they start a dialogue between the brain and body’s systems so the body can heal itself. The technique is light but very specific. The moves are done over very particular areas of the body. Think of the benefit of using gentle, effective pressure on pregnant women, babies, elderly people or people with severe pain. It’s great to have this option.
Although people come to have Bowen for specific issues to be addressed, an added benefit is that Bowen sends the body into a deep state of resting; gurgling stomachs and feeling relaxed and sleepy are normal side effects. People feel better and have more energy. What an immensely valuable benefit in our increasingly stressful lives.
Want to know more about The Bowen Technique and it’s inventor Tom Bowen? Watch this trailer.