Why Bowen Therapy could be the answer to your chronic pain

A little-known Australian technique of muscle relaxation is taking over the world, one gentle touch at a time.

“Bowen Therapy is completely safe for everybody in pain - from ne-onatal up to the most frail and elderly,  people in wheelchairs and stroke patients,” explains Bowen therapist Eliza Markert.

“It’s a little like hitting the re-set button on a computer but you’re resetting an imbalanced body.”

And not only is it gaining popularity in Australia via word of mouth, it’s also becoming popular in Europe, the US, India and Pakistan.

It’s a bodywork modality that you don’t need any equipment for, so it’s been used in refugee camps overseas to help with trauma.”

How does Bowen Therapy work?

Similar to osteopathy in its gentleness, Bowen Therapy works on the soft connective tissue (the fascia) of the body, releasing restricted muscles to allow the body to move freely again.

“Most people are so used to being whacked and cracked, hearing a noise or feeling some sort of pain in treatment that this is very different for them,’ says Eliza. 

“But once they’ve had a session and experienced the relaxed sensation afterwards, well, they are a bit dumbfounded to be honest.

Some clients have become so used to being in pain and usually we’re the end of the road.  They’ve tried everything else and someone has suggested Bowen. We step in and get the body to start looking after itself again and healing.”

Why does Bowen Therapy work?

Developed by Geelong football masseur, Tom Bowen, in 1975, usually only two or three healing sessions are needed. 

Eliza says it’s most effective on muscular-skeletal problems including knee and back pain, and frozen shoulder but may also help with emotional conditions like depression and anxiety.

Bowen works on shifting the autonomic nervous system (the part of the nervous system responsible for control of bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, heartbeat, digestion) from sympathetic (fight or flight), which is turned on during stress and pain, to parasympathetic (rest and digest) which is where is needs to be for the body to relax and repair.

‘The Bowen work continues to adjust during the four days after treatment - people can still be feeling shifts and movement going on -  so they are aware that even though they may feel completely relaxed at the time of the treatment, over the coming days is when they’ll really start to feel their body move back into where it’s supposed to be,” says Eliza.

Although Bowen uses hands-on moves, it also involves a lot of “hands-off” time during the fully clothed session, where the therapist leaves the room or steps away for up to two minutes.

This is because it isn’t the manipulation itself that’s considered to be effective, but the individual connection between body and brain.

“If the body is out of alignment or if there is trauma and muscle tension, Bowen releases that muscle tension. So it’s like saying to the body: ‘look, the emergency is over everyone can relax now, the muscles can relax and release whatever part of the body that’s in tension.”

Sessions occur over 30-45min and will usually require 2-3 visits within 5-10 days of each other to get maximum benefits. To find a therapist, visit the Bowen Therapists Federation of Australia website at www.bowen.asn.au

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