I’ve been road-testing a number of treatments over the past six months and by far the strangest and yet most effective is Bowen Therapy. Developed in the 1950s by Tom Bowen, Bowen therapy, or the Bowen technique is a non-invasive, complementary holistic therapy, which works with the fascia of the body.
What is Fascia?
Despite the fact that it impacts on every aspect of the human body and was discovered thousands of years ago, the importance of fascia is still greatly underestimated.
Fascia runs in strips over structures, inside them like a cobweb, in “blank space” as a kind of jelly, as well as in and around the spine. It penetrates and surrounds every part of our body, from just under the skin to deep within muscles, the brain, other organs, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, blood vessels, nerves etc. If we could view fascia independently from the rest of our body, we would look like a huge candy floss in the shape of a human.
Some of the fascia is able to contract, relax and stretch, just as muscles do. The denser fascia that runs in large strips, cross the body like highways and interchanges. They have the ability to pull the skeleton as well as surrounding structures out of alignment. Where fascia crosses, it has the ability to disrupt the function of joints, including those of the vertebral column.
What is the Bowen Technique?
The Bowen technique involves a distinctive move applied at very precise points on the body which are dense in receptors. The move is a rolling-type movement of the soft tissue using thumbs and forefingers. It is designed to stimulate the tissue and nerve pathways and hence focus the brain. The aim of Bowen therapy is to challenge the nervous system at a subconscious level, encouraging the body to adjust and/or heal by releasing the fascia.
Bowen Therapy is the polar opposite of more hands-on therapies like chiropractic, osteopathy, physiotherapy, sports massage, which are characterised by forced adjustment, hard manipulation and deep pressure.
What can it treat?
Bowen therapy treats the whole person rather than a list of symptoms or conditions. However Bowen has been found to be highly beneficial for clients suffering from the following dis-eases of the body:
- back and neck pain
- sports injuries
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- frozen shoulder
What happens during a Bowen Treatment?
A Bowen consultation and treatment lasts about an hour and is usually performed through light clothing, e.g. a t-shirt and leggings or jogging bottoms. An experienced Bowen therapist identifies the often very subtle imbalances in the client’s body and starts the process of correcting them with a few well-chosen moves.
For most clients, the strangest aspect of Bowen Therapy is the frequent breaks that take place during the course of the treatment. The Bowen therapist performs the gentle rolling movement in a specific area then leaves the client for a couple of minutes, returning to check how the body has responded and to determine what more, if anything, needs to be done.
This element of allowing the body to rest for a few minutes is important as it initiates the process of repair. The length of the breaks varies from client to client and with different procedures, but on average the therapist will leave clients for around two minutes in between each set of moves.
The breaks are probably one of the least understood parts of Bowen and yet it is during these breaks that the work starts to take effect and change occurs. The most fundamental principle of Bowen is that it’s the client doing the work, not the therapist, and for this to happen the body needs time alone to process what has been experienced.
To close, one for Nashville fans. Here’s Clare Bowen (wink) and Sam Palladio with a woozy, bluesy kinda number…