Tom Bowen’s Birthday-April 18

The week before Tom’s birthday is traditionally International Bowen Week, so that we may remember and celebrate his work.

As a bodyworker and healer, I’ve found that it’s often the simple techniques that have the most reach, the largest effect on the body.  Frequently we try to over complicate what is really simple.

Most of my new Bowen therapy clients come to my office after trying literally every other option they can find.  Bowen is not widely known in my area, so it takes a determined searcher to find me sometimes.  By the time they reach me, their issues are chronic and complicated by years of compensation patterns.  I find this a delightful challenge that Bowen can certainly meet.

Bowen works with the fascia, our connective tissue, to re-tone and re-tension the whole body, from muscles and organs to bones and hormones. Fluids carrying nutrients and waste, in and out of our deepest recesses, are facilitated by fascia and disturbances to these pathways may also be addressed by Bowen’s gentle moves.

Bowen is a series of short stubby strokes or Moves, as specific locations on the body, executed in predetermined “sets” or procedures as prerequisites to future procedures in the session, with short Waits between the procedures. AKA: I do a couple moves in a couple places, leave the room for 2 or more minutes, come back, do a couple more moves in a couple places and leave the room for 2 minutes, etc. The Bowen Moves give instruction to the fascia, to examine itself, it’s tension and alignment, both near the move and in any fascially related tissue, which can range from head to toe or deep into the body. The Wait is required by the fascia–it needs time, 90-sec to 2-min, to react. So it’s gentle, slow work that accommodates the natural form and timing that the body needs to process information is a whole and complete way.

Sessions are generally an hour long, sometimes shorter or longer, depending on the work. The first session is generally about balancing the whole body and getting all the fascia to soften. Hardened fascia, called “armoring” is generally present in chronic cases and our goal of flexible, elastic fascia will bring on much needed relief to the body.

“While experts still aren’t quite sure how or why it works, research into Bowen therapy by the University of Lancaster found that 70% of volunteers with a frozen shoulder gained full mobility after undertaking a series of Bowen therapy sessions. 100% of participants reported better mobility with daily activities and overall lower levels of pain.”

Bowen is known to

  • Reduce neck, shoulder and back pain
  • Decrease stress and fatigue
  • Help with repetitive strain injuries, digestive issues and reproductive issues
  • Decrease headaches including migraine intensity and frequency
  • Reduce bed wetting and assist with bladder problems
  • Regain mobility from frozen shoulder or assist with knee, hip or mobility issues
  • Assist healing athletic and sports injuries

There are a few things you should know before you trying Bowen.

  1. There’s literally NO contraindications. Bowen is for everyone: kids, infants, adults, in hospital, in hospice… everyone.
  2. To create a personalized treatment plan, you will be asked about your medical history.
  3. Bowen works alone. The body can only process a given amount of information at a time.  Too much information–like touching a person from head to toe– may cause a brief respite, but within days all the instructions are tossed out.  Bowen gives discrete instruction to the body and then we stop for 5 days and let that information work its way through the body. No further treatment by anyone for 5 days–no Bowen, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, etc.
  4. Drinking water is critical. Because the fluid pathways are affected, we drink lots of water, to keep everything flushed through and out of the body as much as possible.
  5. Processing the information can result in short periods of tension in muscles, over the next five days.  This is normal, although not a universal experience. If it happens, it usually only last 20 minutes or so.
  6. Most people with chronic cases will require 3-5 sessions to see huge improvement. Sometimes, mobility and strength are increased right way. Each client and case is different.  We generally say to plan for 3-5 sessions and then are happy when its effects are seen much sooner 🙂
  7.  Light exercise in the five days following Bowen, like gentle walking or yoga, can increase success of the treatment. This physical activity can help reeducate the muscles and other soft tissue as they find new life in their reconditioned fascia environment.

Try Bowen! You wont regret it!

As a first-adopter, I’m happy to spread the news, to explain again and again what Bowen is and how it can help. I’m grateful to Tom for being the person to bring this special combination of move, location, sequencing and tempo to bodywork.

Happy Birthday, Tom! 

Bring your headache here!

HeadAchesandBowen

Headaches.  There are so many “kinds”.  WebMD says there are 150 diagnostic headache categories. The cause of headache can range from a “bump on the head”, to emotional, illness, hormone imbalances, inflammation, medication, chemical, stress, fluid levels, activity levels, allergies, and the list goes on and on. When you have a headache, it’s sometimes hard to ignore. It’s difficult to think or concentrate, even soft noises seem too loud, and slight irritations become a huge pain in the what-i-sit-on.

If the cause of the headache is known, then it’s much easier to address.  This is usually the case with acute pain–the source and result are closely linked by time and the detective work to a solution is clear.

But what about when pain is chronic and/or unresolved?

Bowen Therapy can address headache and migraine intensity, duration and frequency.

Bowen Therapy, also know as Bowenwork in the US, uses a series of gentle moves on structural tissue (muscles, tendons and ligaments) to affect the fascia and nerves. Treatment at pivotal locations in the body, neck and head relax the internal mechanisms that propogate headache and migraine, reducing and shutting down the stress and myalgia.

The first Bowen session is generally about assessment and bringing the body to a sort-of “ground-state” of balance on which to build further work, including treatment of the loudest issue that is presenting at session time.  It is important to commit to at least three Bowen therapy sessions, a week apart, to give the body and brain time to work any adjustments and corrections in the body structure and function.  Each additional session further informs the body’s intelligence to identify any imbalance or misalignment that is locked in as chronic pattern(s).   This work will process through the body over the course of 5 days, correcting and adjusting itself back to it’s “healthy” state, or as close as possible.  After three sessions is a good point to review the overall progress.  The total amount of time for treatment and recovery depends on personal history and healing tempo.

This link is to a Bowen Migraine Study in the UK

If you suffer from Headache or Migraine, please try Bowen Therapy. You won’t regret it!

Who do you call when you slip and fall?

Have you ever felt that the secondary pain caused by an injury is often times worse to deal with than the injury itself? weaveLarge

When you fall and hit your head, why does the back and shoulder ache?  If you sprain an ankle, what does that have to do with the shoulder? And what does the crash and bumps of a car wreck have to do with a whole body ache?

We understand the goose-egg on the noggin. But what is with the soreness and stiffness around the shoulders, ribs, hips or knees — areas far removed from the site of acute trauma?

What’s happening in the body?
When an injury happens, first there is pain at the site and then swelling starts as the body’s first aid team arrives for triage, delivering blood, lymph and nutrients. Many times there are secondary twists and strains on the body as it was pushed in unaccustomed ways during the fall or crash.  We may have strained in resistance to minimize or prevent any further injury, tensing muscles and freezing emotional energy. The body also responds to the emergency by sending many messages and stress hormones coursing through the body.  It wants to make sure that we can flee from the danger if need be.

So, it turns out that when we fall or experience other physical ordeals, it’s like experiencing our own little natural disaster, our own hurricane. Suddenly we’re not in control and our safety and grounded-ness is gone. Some natural force like momentum and gravity is interacting with a solid object like a car, sports equipment and curbs in a spiral of confusion and conflicting objectives with our soft body in the middle of disaster. It shocks our body, our mind and our psyche.

An over-reaction response or not letting go of the fight-or-flight reaction and the resulting chronic pain seems to be more common as we pass into adulthood and the stress of our modern life rides along in our physical systems. We develop patterns of stress in the body that are held beyond their usefulness.  If nothing is done to relieve these patterns, they spread through the body resulting in the chronic aches and pains that are relentless.

So what do we do?  Nothing replaces stitches and a cast if it’s needed.  And this blog post is not suggesting that medical assistance is not the first appropriate response.  But once those steps are taken care of…what do we do?

Get some Bowenwork!

Bowenwork is a soft touch therapy that affects the nervous, musculoskeletal and fascial systems. Bowenwork engages the body as a whole by gently stimulating its systems to rebalance.  The mind-body produces an integrated response which improves circulation and lymphatic drainage, resets tension in fascia and muscles and relaxes the stress feelings.

In fact, the body message of the very first Bowenwork moves are “The emergency is over, Help is on the way“.

How does Bowenwork work?

A Bowenwork “Move” is a very gentle rolling motion with the fingertips and thumbs over specific muscles and other soft tissue.  The Move stimulates proprioceptors in the soft tissue. Proprioceptors are sensory receptors which send information to the brain about how we hold ourselves in space–in our gravity field.  The brain then sends messages back into the body to initiate an unwinding. The tension levels in the soft tissue are rebalanced and reset.  As a result, the body can initiate healing more efficiently.

Bowenwork sessions

Bowenwork sessions last from 20 minutes to 1 hour.  Bowenwork sessions have several unique features

  1. Waits between Moves. After a series of Bowenwork moves, the practitioner will leave the room for a “wait” of usually 2 minutes.  Waits allow an uninterrupted conversation between the body and brain to integrate any changes without distraction.
  2. Less is more. The brain can only handle a certain amount of information effectively.  If too much information is given through the body, the brain will try to process it all. But after a short time, only a small portion of the “corrections” are retained and the body will regress almost back where it started. In Bowenwork, only a prudent amount of work is done in each session.  The first session is all about balancing the body. Successive sessions work on what has not yet been resolved.
  3. Flexible client positioning. Bowenwork is commonly performed on a massage table.  Starting face-down for a series of Moves, then face-up for more Moves. Depending on the injury or condition, some seated or standing Moves may be required.  But Bowenwork can also meet the client to their ability: in a wheelchair or hospital bed. The practitioner can work with the client in any situation or environment.
  4. Works on skin or through thin clothes. Bowenwork Moves are best performed on bare skin. If skin is not possible, contra-indicated due to medical devices or taboo due to modesty or social reasons, working through very thin clothes or off-the-body is also very effective.
  5. Bowenwork plays alone. Physical and energetic changes can continue to work in the body for 5 days after a Bowenwork session. So, in the theme of “less is more”, clients are asked not to participate in any other energy work, acupuncture, chiropractic or massage for 5 days after a Bowenwork session. This is not to reduce the value of those practices, but to give the brain time to process the information given during the Bowenwork therapy.

Who can benefit?

Bowenwork is gentle on the body, effective and appropriate for anyone to receive. People of all ages and conditions respond to Bowenwork according to what their bodies need, including infants to the elderly and elite athletes to people with chronic conditions.

What conditions does Bowenwork address?

Bowenwork is extremely effective in helping with a variety of acute and chronic ailments. Bowenwork Practitioners have been successful in assisting or addressing problems relating to these and other conditions:

Abdominal pain Frozen Shoulder Neuromas
Ankle pain Gall Bladder Pain Parkinson’s
Angina Golfer’s Elbow Pelvic Tilt
ALS Greif Planter fasciitis
Back pain Groin Pain Pre and Post-surgical recovery
Bed wetting Hammer Toes Pregnancy issues
Bell’s Palsy Hay fever Prostate
Breast Lumps Headaches PTSD
Bunions Heel Pain Reproductive Issue
Bursitis Hernia Sacral pain
Calf Pain Hiatal Hernia Sciatica
Carpal Tunnel High Shoulder Scoliosis
Cellulitis Ileocecal Issues Shin pain
Chest Pains Incontinence Sciatica
Cluster Headaches Infertility (M&F) Scoliosis
Coccyx Pain Influenza Shin splints
Colic Jaw & TMJ Sinus pain
Constipation Kidney issues Seizures
Diaphragm pain Knee problems Rib/sternal pain
Digestive Issues Leg cramps Tendonitis
Deafness Liver issues Tennis elbow
Dyslexia Lymphedema Thoracic outlet
Ear problems Meniere’s disease Trigeminal Neuralgia
Edema Migraines Vomiting
Emphysema

 

When is a session recommended?

  • Immediately incurring an injury. Getting Bowenwork ON-THE-DAY of the injury is the best option. On the day of the injury, the body will still be in a shock of sorts — tense with the potential over-response from unusual movement, twisting and resistance to more injury.  The compensatory holding pattern is setup, but not set.  “Sleeping on it” will set the holding pattern of stress into the body more firmly.  Getting Bowenwork ON-THE-DAY, will relax the holding patterns so that chronic pain will not set in. Leave only the actual acute injury for the body to repair, healing will proceed more rapidly as a result. Often dramatic relief is reported when addressing recent injuries.
  • Before and after surgery or dental work can reduce complications. Bowenwork improves blood and lymph flow, reduces anxiety and relaxes the body so it is prepared for surgery or dental work. Afterwards, Bowenwork has speeded recovery by calming the body, reducing the trauma and focusing repair and rehabilitation.
  • Get relief for any pain or discomfort on the physical, chemical, emotional, mental and energetic levels. Bowenwork doesn’t claim to cure anything.  But the list of conditions that can be improved is long and amazing.  Chronic problems that have lingered for years may respond more slowly as the body works to change a familiar unhealthy pattern to a new healthy one.  And sometimes the change is accelerated.  Each body knows its best pace to address the underlying issues of a long-term issue.

Where can I find a Bowenwork practitioner?

It’s important to get an accredited practitioner that was taught and practices “the original Bowen Technique”.  In the US they will be listed on the American Bowen Academy website www.americanbowen.academy/find-a-practitioner.

Or worldwide use The Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia (BTAA) website  www.bowtech.com

The late Australian Tom Bowen developed this technique. “Bowtech” is an Australian company founded by Tom Bowen’s student Ossie Rentsch, who has brought this work to the world.  In coming to the US, the name “Bowenwork” was used due to trademark restrictions.  They are the same organization.

Be sure to look for “the original Bowen Technique” practitioner to ensure quality of service and care.