Understanding Bowen

In trying to understand the success of The Bowen Technique two key features are important: - its application and the unique rest breaks.

In the application of Bowen therapy ‘touch’ is used in a very different way to other forms of body work. It is only applied at precise points on the body. The practitioner applies cross-fibre rolling movements over muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue. The rolling action generates vibrations rather like those applied to guitar strings.
The precise points worked on correspond to key structural locations in the body which the brain uses as natural reference markers to determine posture. As they affect the sensory nerve endings they activate communication to and from the brain. The nerve reflexes can relax and balance muscles, relieve muscle spasm and stimulate organ function. Hence the potential for increased circulation of blood, lymph and energy flow.

The stretch of the Bowen ‘roll’ prompts the nerves to give feedback to the spinal cord and brain about the state of that area- whether it is tight, stretched, painful, hot, cold etc.The breaks then allow time for the motor messages to react accordingly, moving towards bilateral balance and alignment. 

The vibrations created by the roll have an impact through the whole connective tissue network which surrounds all muscles and organs of the body. It can therefore have an effect on the autonomic nervous system, blood and lymphatic systems, energy (as in Chinese meridians terms), and the flow of interstitial fluid.

The Rest Breaks
Bowen’s unique feature of rest breaks through a treatment session singles it out from other therapies and potentially boosts its effectiveness. After each set of moves there is a few minutes pause where the therapist will leave the treatment room. This not only promotes the relaxation of the client but, importantly, allows the brain time to process and react to the instructions which have been input. Research has shown that it takes around 90 seconds for muscles to respond to input in this way; Bowen breaks are a minimum of 2 minutes and longer when addressing sensitive conditions. Studies have also been done using heart rate variability equipment which confirm that deep parasympathetic responses are heightened during these rest periods.

The measured work and rest periods are make the treatment a useful option for those who cannot endure too much treatment such as those in acute pain or sufferers of chronic fatigue, ME and fibromyalgia.

Together the gentle pace and cross-fibre nature of tissue release lead to a deep sense of relaxation.
Regular Bowen users enjoy the fact that a session is not only remedial but also deeply relaxing and a chance to give them ‘time out’ from daily demands.

Bowen organisations continue to carry out on-going research into the therapy and its effects on the fascial network.