Urban Wellness Hub

Bowen Technique

Bowen is the “new kid on the block” in the world of complimentary therapies. This is down to the original Bowen practitioner Tom Bowen only teaching a selected few of his 'moves'. After Tom died (Australia, 1982) "Tom's boys" then took it upon themselves to spread the wonderful therapy that is Bowen. It is now growing in popularity worldwide due to the gentle nature of the treatment, and some of the consistently great results clients are reporting.

Bowen has the potential to create change in the body without manipulation, cracking of bones, or application of oils. As a hands on therapy the therapist uses a series of gentle light pressure moves/rolls on the body and allows suitable breaks to let the body process this. . Our bodies naturally register many kinds of touch and there is no proof whatsoever that our bodies need manipulation or extreme pressure to recover from pain or illness-in fact quite the opposite. Bowen allows the body to reset, heal itself, and rebalance, in its own time.

How Does This Happen?

Research shows that from the very first Bowen moves (rolls), the body and mind relax almost into sleep. This depth of relaxation allows the body to respond to the brain’s command to search for imbalances in the system and make the necessary adjustments to correct and heal the body. The moves also relieve pain, release energy, reduce tension, increase blood supply, and improve lymphatic drainage, release toxins, and so much more. It is because of these reactions in the body that Bowen therapy is such a versatile tool.

How Bowen Works

There are many theories about the physiological mechanisms by which the Bowen Technique brings about the results for which it is famous. In addition to the rebalancing of the ANS, described earlier, Bowen moves and procedures may reset the body to heal itself by activating, through the nervous and endocrine systems among others, the following mechanisms:

• Stretch reflex: Most moves are done either at the origin, insertion or belly of muscles where receptors are located, informing the nervous system on the state of tension, length or stretch in the musculotendinous tissue. These receptors are stimulated during the 'challenge' and the 'rolling' part of the Bowen move which changes the stimulus received by the nervous system. This can change a pain/muscle spasm loop.

• Joint proprioceptors: All moves done around a joint directly affect the joint capsule and ligaments that are richly innervated with proprioceptors. Here again, stimulus will be received by the nervous system, inviting normalization of the joint function without the need for forceful manipulation. Research (Carter, Bernie, 2002, 'Clients experiences of frozen shoulder and its treatment with Bowen technique', Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, v. 8, pp. 204-210) has confirmed increases in the range of motion in restricted joints

• Fascia: Each Bowen move is done at the level of the superficial fascia and affects the relationship between the fascia and the nerve, muscle or tendon being mobilized. Fascia plays a major role in muscle co-ordination, postural alignment and overall structural and functional integrity. All of these are negatively affected when the fascia stiffens, contracts, torques or dehydrates. Following a Bowtech session it is not uncommon to see adhesions loosen up, scar tissue soften and posture and mobility improve without harsh mobilization or stretching.

• Segmental viscerosomatic spinal reflexes: Several Bowtech moves engage these reflexes. They produce referred reactions to the internal organs through stimulation of the skin, muscles and nerves

• Harmonic vibration or resonance model: Bowenwork moves set up vibrational patterns which bring the body back into balance and harmony

• Lymphatics: Some Bowtech procedures activate draining of the lymphatic system stimulating the immune system

• Detoxification is often initiated during a Bowen session, thereby improving the body's ability to function at a cellular level.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

.......everyone is different.

We usually suggest booking in for 3-4 treatments a week to 10 days apart. For those that have chronic conditions it may take a bit longer, but that is always addressed on a case by case basis.

It may that you receive one treatment and feel it has helped, others may take 2, some 3.....we will discuss this during your session. On a personal note , one of the therapists had three treatments before the pain from her ankles disappeared completely and four treatments before the pain and mobility felt normal again. She now gets maintenance "top ups" every 4 months or so . Others get treatment and then never need it again!!

There is no ideal time for a Bowen Therapy session, but if you can get a treatment immediately after an injury, it can provide a huge benefit due to its natural effect to reduce inflammation and pain. It can also help your body overcome the trauma before it begins to compensate for it (which often creates more problems in the long run than the initial trauma itself). It also promotes blood flow so is also beneficial after operations, sprains and tears.

From a sports performance/management perspective, Bowen is great as a maintenance treatment as it increases hamstring flexibility, and helps open up the diaphragm, there is research away to take place into Bowen and increased V02 max !!

Sports teams that regularly use Bowen are: (some of the) GB triathletes and cycling team, Leeds Rhinos (Rugby)

Before a Bowen Session

To get the best results prior to your treatment................

• Don’t have any other forms of bodywork (e.g. massage, acupuncture, chiropractic or physiotherapy) for at least five days beforehand (and a week after the treatment)

• Avoid heavy exercise on the day of your session

• Don’t use ice , heat or foam rollers on the site of injury

• Also if you can increase your water consumption, a well hydrated body is a great receptor for the treatment. Think of your body like a sponge, when dry it can crack and is immobile, when wet it is pliable and can be moved with ease.

The Session

A treatment can typically last between 45 mins - 1 hr, the intial consultaion will be around 1hr-1hr 15 mins.

The initial treatment will give us a chance to look at your medical history, and for you to ask any other questions you may have before commencing the treatment.

For the treatment we will ask the client undress to their underwear or loose fitting shorts if preferable (we will cover you with a blanket throughout the treatment) and usually the client will start off lying face down on the couch. For those with mobility issues and cannot lie, please let us know ahead of time and we can do a seated treatment if more suitable.

We will apply a series of gentle rolling type movements on your body and then at set times, leave the room. This break lets the body process the treatment (It is strange at first but after the client gets used to therapist leaving, they tend to just relax or even fall into a light sleep).

It is during these waiting periods that clients have reported tingling, hot, and cool feelings in their body and sometimes twitching effects. Others report nothing at all, apart from a deep sense of relaxation...... Each individual has a different response to Bowen so do not worry either way.

Each session is different based on the individual’s needs, and the therapist can assess and change the treatment accordingly.

Don’t be at all surprised if you come along with a sore neck and shoulder and we start treating your back or knee!! :0)

The body is an amazing thing and its connections and how it compensates is what we are looking to treat (the body as a whole). It may just be that you have had a tight back that has tightened and then restricted movement, then day to day you have just 'got on with it', and now your neck is sore as a result of this.

It's great to have an open mind when you come for a treatment.

Most people say after a treatment they feel very relaxed, however, on occasion, it may feel like you have the onset of a headache coming on, or your body feels a temperature change. This is all perfectly normal. We will discuss aftercare with you, but please refer to our after care guide on this website if you need to for best results.

What is Bowtech ?

The Bowen Technique (also known as Bowtech - the Original Bowen Technique and Bowenwork) is a dynamic system of muscle and connective tissue therapy that was developed by the late Tom Bowen in Geelong, Australia. Sometimes called the homeopathy of bodywork, it utilizes subtle inputs to the body (known as moves), stimulating the body to heal itself, often profoundly.

The Bowen Technique offers tremendous benefit to clients with very little effort on the part of the practitioner. It can provide relief for many types of injuries and other health problems, both acute and chronic, and it does so holistically, via the body's innate healing mechanisms. The practitioner's moves deliver signals to the nervous system at specific locations (on muscles, tendons, ligaments, or nerves), and the body responds in its own time, within its vital capacity. While there are a few, very specific situations in which a particular 'procedure' is contraindicated, Bowen Technique is appropriate for people of all ages, in all degrees of health.

When faced with an acute injury, a Bowtech practitioner may effectively apply the work to address only the traumatized areas, since the client has had little time to compensate for, and accommodate to, the injury. However, most practitioners find themselves working with clients whose conditions have developed gradually over many years, and patterns of dysfunctional muscle recruitment and posture have become entrenched over time. In these cases, Bowtech practitioners often need to take a more 'whole-body' approach to facilitate optimal alignment and recovery.

Rather than focusing on a single complaint, Bowen Technique addresses the entire body, by restoring balance via the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS controls over 80% of bodily functions and is very susceptible to external stressors. Most people today live in a constant state of high stress and sympathetic ANS over-stimulation (fight, flight or freeze mode). Healing can occur only after the ANS shifts from sympathetic to parasympathetic dominance (rest, relax and repair mode). Bowen Technique enables that shift. During a session, the client often drops into deep relaxation or falls asleep, and loud peristalsis may be heard. Both of these changes are indications of a profound release from stress and a shift towards parasympathetic influence. This shift could explain, in part, the common observation that a Bowen Technique session seems to reactivate the recovery process in situations where healing from trauma, sickness or surgery has stalled or reached a plateau.

A typical Bowen Technique session generally lasts from 15 to 45 minutes. Clients usually lie on a massage/bodywork table or bed, or may be seated in a chair if required, for comfort. A 'session' involves one or more 'procedures', each of which consists of several sets of 'moves'. The moves are gentle, but purposeful, and can be done through light clothing. Between each set of moves, the practitioner pauses for as many minutes as are needed for the client's body to begin responding.

As the nervous system begins to adjust the tension level in the muscles, the practitioner senses when the client is ready for the next set of moves. A common approach in a session is to balance the entire body by addressing the lower back, then the upper back, and then the neck. To minimize the need for disturbing the client's rest, all procedures that address the back of the client are completed before turning over for procedures that are done with the client lying on his/her back.

In contrast to other hands-on modalities, where the practitioner imposes correction on the client through manipulation, Bowen Technique facilitates the body in healing itself, with minimal intervention. Because of the subtle nature of Bowen Technique, and the body's continuing response to it over several days thereafter, other forms of manipulative therapy are discouraged for up to five days after a session, as they may interfere with the efficacy of the work.

This page and pictures courtesy of Bowtech Pty Ltd. © 2009

Price Guide

A wide range of treatments are available out of the Urban Wellness Hub. Prices range from as low as £25 and upwards, depending upon the modality and experience of your Therapist or Practitioner. Please contact us for more detailed information.

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