How does Bowen work? Bowen relieves pain, manages symptoms, improves wellbeing, normalises blood pressure, restores balance to the body and so much more. But how do these seemingly insignificant gentle moves work? I don’t think anybody really knows yet. There is a lot of technical information written on theories of how it works, but I’m not sure that any of it is really proven. Here are some ideas that may help to understand.
Bowen moves create tsunami-like waves in the connective tissue, being the muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and fascia.
At a Bowen workshop I attended in Tamworth last year, instructor Ann Schubert played a video made in France showing the effects of a Bowen move on the connective tissue under the skin. They must have implanted a camera under the skin somehow … isn’t technology wonderful? We couldn’t understand a word they said, but we actually saw the regular wave-like movements traveling through the area of connective tissue that the camera was viewing. For us Bowen therapists it was really cool. The other really interesting thing the video illustrated was the difference between well hydrated connective tissue and dehydrated connective, which brought home for me the importance of drinking enough water both in preparation for a Bowen treatment and for normal everyday life. The waves the Bowen move created were much more robust in the well hydrated connective tissue, which had a lot more integrity than the tissue that was not as hydrated.
These tsunami-like waves travel throughout the body.
You can imagine these waves combing out knots and tangles in the muscle fibres, and giving messages to the brain about the state of the various parts of the body through which they travel. In the early Bowen workshops I attended I was taught that the brain compares one side of the body to the other. During treatments, when we are not addressing the left side first (to create balance, restore homeostasis and normalise blood pressure), we address the “better side first, and then the side that will get better”. In this way the brain becomes aware of how the first side feels. When it becomes aware of how different the second side feels it endeavours to balance the body so the second side becomes as good as the first side.
The first two moves of most Bowen treatments are know as the “emergency moves”. These moves, it is said, send a message to the brain that the emergency is over and now the body can relax and start to heal. There is one thing that Bowen does for everyone, and that is that it gets them to relax. From this relaxed state the body can get on with regenerating without having to deal with other stressors or stimuli.
To create an environment where there are no stressors or stimuli, I work in a quiet environment. I do not have music playing, and nor do I communicate with the client other than to ensure their comfort and give some instructions. In this way the client’s body can do what it needs to do, without any interruptions or distractions.
These tsunami-like waves continue travel ling throughout the body for up to ten days.
When I was studying my Cert IV of Bowen Therapy, I met with another two or three students each week to swap Bowen treatments so we all got some practice and some benefit. It was wonderful. We did it for about ten months or so, maybe longer. Over that time my body made some significant changes for the better – my knee became stronger, my lower back pain improved and finally left, my hip pain ceased and my chronic fatigue eased noticeably. After some time I became aware of a sensation within my body which occurred quite regularly throughout the week after our get togethers, and the other members began to notice it in themselves too. We fondly referred to it as the “Bowen Buzz”, and it was a reminder to us that the most recent Bowen treatment we had was still very much at work seven to ten days out. Unfortunately most people do not have the luxury of weekly Bowen treatments for so long and the awareness to notice this, but I am certain the Bowen is still buzzing in all my clients’ bodies for at least a week after I see them.
We can take advantage of this period of up to ten days by making the follow-up session before the waves dissipate altogether. By having consecutive treatments about a week apart we can build upon the result of the first treatment, and the second treatment will be more effective with generally less moves.
How do we prove that any of this is the case? It really sounds like someone has made it all up, which I guess they have. But ask those people that were facing pain and disability for the rest of their lives who have been healed with Bowen Therapy. They will agree that they don’t know how it works, but it has definitely turned their lives around.
Check out my website, send me an email or give me a call on 0427 143 743 to make an appointment. I look forward to hearing from you.
Cheers for now,
Hi, I'm Prue Duffy, a Bowen Therapist and Equine Muscle Release Therapist in regional NSW, Australia. I've been doing Bowen since 2007, and opened a practice in Dubbo in 2012. The results some of my clients get through Bowen is truly amazing.