Bowen Therapy (non-needle)
Bowen Therapy consists of a series of light, crosswise maneuvers over muscles. These gentle stretches over skin or even over light clothing, are deceptively simple. But each "move" as they are called, sends a cascade of signals into the body to initiate the inherent innate intelligence to heal without any conscious thought.
There are brief periods of rest in between as the instructions are being processed. During this time, some people will feel slight movements within the body or just a profound relaxation. In either case, there is a lot of shifting occurring and the results may not show up until the next day or even in the next few days.
The Intelligence Inside
This intelligence that we all have inside our bodies often becomes disrupted by trauma on all levels: obvious injury and accidents, scars and adhesions but also from not so apparent factors like anxiety, anger, frustrations, childhood abuse, even an inflexible mindset or simply day to day stresses of managing a home and/or career. It does not matter, a block is a block, whether it can be measured or not.
The Fascia Connection
A Bowen Therapy instructor in England, John Wilks, writes in his book, The Bowen Technique-the Inside Story, about how fascia could be the key to the countless successful cases all over the world from this therapy. The originator, Tom Bowen, worked intuitively and never offered any explanation of why it can sometimes perform miracles, or at least work amazingly well.
John states that the fascia is the main interconnecting network that wraps all the muscles and organs. When there is any break or glitch anywhere in this network, the whole becomes affected in some way. That is why, in his excerpt from his book, he states a case where a past foot injury was the cause of a perplexing and resistant hamstring tightness. Nothing worked until the Bowen move released the fascia around the feet.
The fascia can be seen as a wrap supporting the skin, muscles, skeleton, organs, body cavities and even smaller fascia cells within and outside cells. It would not be difficult then to see if one area became "pinched" and remained so over a period of time that other areas would become distorted, interrupting the communication between the body and its innate healing mechanisms. Read his article on fascia for more detail.
It's the Electricity Within
John mentions the piezoelectrical nature of the fascia, meaning that the liquid crystalline nature of its collagen cells, being of a very orderly molecular structure, allows bioelectricity to be conducted through the entire network. There has been much research from others that verify this information. It is believed that consistent flow is what allows information to be shared among the whole network- good if the information has not been distorted, not so good if it has been.
The Acupuncture Meridians and Fascia Connection
It is a fascinating subject, at least to us, in how so many disciplines can come together and support each other’s findings. From their extensive researches, acupuncturists Matsumoto and Birch write in their book Hara Diagnosis, Reflections on the Sea, that connective tissue (fascia) of many kinds possess this piezoelectric nature helping to connect the entire body in a complex interchange. But they go one step further and postulate that this communication network, set within the fluidity and elasticity of the fascia, can be compared to and perhaps is the meridian system of traditional Chinese medicine.
This is quite a statement, but it does make a lot of sense from our clinical experience. It would be difficult to prove, since there are really no instruments yet that can measure the extremely subtle energy currents accurately within the meridians at this time. Robert Becker, the famous writer in his landmark book, The Body Electric, points this out also. He conducted many experiments and concluded that the energy and bioelectric signal transmission of the meridian system allows very subtle currents of information to be carried over a long distance without loss.
To simplify, the acupuncture meridian system can be at least compared in many ways to the fascia of the body. Both do the same things and have the similar properties of bioelectrical conductivity. Therefore, the very gentle moves of Bowen Therapy can be compared to the stimulation of the meridians themselves. This is only our comparison, but clinically we find it to be true. Although rolfing and massage, which are excellent therapies with their own merits, will not necessarily stimulate the meridians in the same way. If too many points are stimulated, then the effect is lost. This is also true in acupuncture. Only a few points on a particular meridian are chosen to needle for the greatest effect.
The Tsunami of Healing
A great metaphor offered by John Wilks is one that compares the force that activated the tsunami disaster of 2005 as "two tectonic plates colliding at the speed that our fingernails grow". We believe this wholeheartedly. The most gentle move, whether with Bowen, an acupuncture needle or sub sensory microcurrent can release a torrent of much needed shifts in the body. It becomes even more powerful if the practitioner has this understanding and intention to support the changes.
Therefore we approach Bowen Therapy with a bit more flexibility. The protocols are excellent, but at times, according with the presenting symptoms and perhaps the pulse, one of the diagnostic tools of Chinese medicine, we may add other acupoints that may be helpful. Also, we may combine another therapy like Microcurrent Electro-Acupuncture in the same treatment. Some ear points may also be chosen. Strictly speaking, Bowen Therapy does not recommend this. But we find from our clinical experience that this does boost the effectiveness overall. Other times we may just keep to the protocols in the very beginning until the body can handle more. The whole point, of course, is to be flexible and in the moment with the person seeking help.
Conditions that have been shown to respond include:
(The following list is from the official Bowen Technique website:)
- back pain — lower, upper, mid-back
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia
- frozen shoulder
- groin tension or pain
- hammer toes
- hamstring pain or tightness
- jaw pain / misalignment
- knee pain
- neck pain, restricted range of motion<
- plantar fasciitis
- sacro-iliac pain
- shin splints
- sporting injuries
- sprained ankles
- sternal pain, sprung ribs
- tennis elbow
Also useful for:
- ADD / ADHD
- colic in infants
- gynecological issues (PMS, difficulty conceiving, menopausal symptoms)
- headaches, including migraines
- hiatus hernia, reflux
- indigestion, constipation, diarrhea
- rehabilitation after stroke
- respiratory problems, including asthma
- some cardiovascular problems
The Bowen Technique is so gentle that it can be used to treat babies through to the elderly. Bowtech addresses the entire body holistically.
There are no contraindications that would keep a person from receiving Bowtech sessions. Bowtech is approriate and beneficial, from immediately after birth to just before death.
There are, however, a few procedures that are contraindicated in specific circumstances:
- The “Coccyx Procedure” is not done on pregnant women.
- The “TMJ Procedure” is not done on people whose jaws have been surgically altered at the condyles.
- The “Breast Tenderness Procedure” is not done on women with breast implants.