The effect of scars on the body can not be overestimated. It doesn’t matter whether the scars came from an accident, war, conflict, personal attacks or other traumas or due to a necessary and required surgical intervention or elective procedure. The results of scars never just go away.
The scar itself is a miracle of our body’s repair system. It is the remnant of a living tissue bandage that plugged a hole in our skin, preventing further fluid loss and maintaining a hygienic seal over the area while transitioning from scab to scar.
The fact that there is a visible scar means that the damage was not just superficial wound. It is the result of deeper tissue damage, sometimes thru all layers of the skin, sometimes involving the underlying soft tissues, muscles and organs.
Collagen, laid down as part of the repair process, resulted in a thickened fibrous mass. Thick scar tissue can impede proper circulation of blood, congests lymph flow and can impact range of motion. Severed nerve tissue, in the immediate and surrounding areas, can result in a kind of dysthesia–unpleasant, abnormal sense of touch that runs from numbness to pain. A fibrous and non-elastic scar can have a bio-mechanical dragging and pulling effect on all neighboring physiological systems particularly the fascial membrane covering muscles, bones, organs and glands.
And really one of the biggest problems is that we are unaware of these issues. After the largest portions of pain and trauma of the site have passed and it is mostly healed, our concerns go elsewhere and we become unaware of the disability that remains stuck in our bodies by having and untreated scar. All scars represent:
the emotion that was present when the injury took place. Even elective surgeries and planned c-sections have embedded emotions related to the need for them — self-worth, anger, anxiety, shock, guilt, etc.
bio-mechanical restriction of the fascia where the scar prevent free-gliding of muscles and nerves. Interconnected fascial lines and synergistic and antagonistic muscles groups all rely of easy movement and elasticity of tissue within and adjacent to them.
bio-energetic impact of scars is most noticeable when the scars cross body mid-lines and the body meridians as used in acupuncture. When scars are released in these areas and the flow of Qi/Chi is re-established, client often report that they feel more energized after the scar work was performed.
The treatment of scar tissue is a vital element in restoring maximum function of our musculoskeletal and myofascial systems. Pain in these systems are reduced and range of motion increases.
It seems that I can’t see it or hear it often enough: Fascia is amazing. It holds us together. It is our body’s silent communication system, more rapid than nerves. It transports fluid between muscle, organ and circulatory tissues, keeping them supple. It collects fluid around damaged tissue like a bandage. Think of healthy fascia as a series of fine net stockings or cobwebs that surrounds every fiber, bundle of fibers, groups of bundled fibers, tissue groups, organs, separating body compartments in large sheets or diaphragms, supporting and holding everything in it’s place. It’s everywhere. It’s pervasive.
Fascia can be physically damaged by injury or as a byproduct of some medical procedures, just like any other tissue. Fascia also reacts to our emotions by contracting over the trauma that is energetically held in the body like a bandage.
“Damaged” fascia is not the fluid flexible net of fibers that functions fully. Injured fascia is tense, jumbled and convoluted, like a fisherman’s net that has gotten balled up and tangled. Over time these areas, will become tightened, knotted and kinked, stiffening into armor like hardness.
In this compromised condition, fascia can not transport fluid nor relay messages as is normally found. The tissue is it supports become dry and brittle and incommunicado from the rest of the body.
Injured fascia can cause severe, disabling, chronic muscle pain. It affect not only the tissue that is armored, but all muscles and tissues that have to work differently because of this restriction.
When there is a restriction in one area of the body, there will be compensation on the other side of the body in a diagonal direction. That “overworked” area will cause another area, diagonally across the body to compensate.
Pretty soon there is a zigzag of stressed body areas. So often what hurts is not the originating point of the problem. Neck injuries can become hip and leg issues and vice versa. Ankle issues can show up in the shoulders. So what needs help the most? Where it hurts now or the original injury?
Bowen to the rescue!
Bowen works with fascia as it’s target. When skin, muscles and tendons are moved, the fascia they are connected to moves. If gently and methodically done, the fascia will again separate into it’s beautiful web-like structures. The armor will soften, the tissues are hydrated and the information highway is connected again.
On the other hand, tissue and it’s associate fascia is moved quickly, hard and fast–it resists and stays in it’s armored state. Remember the corn-starch and water experiment? If you handle it with too much force, it resembles a solid brick. But if you handle it slowly, it feels more like sand or liquid. The same is true of fascia–the slower and gentler the better.
In my opinion, almost all all chronic pain announces an underlying fascia issue. The longer the pain has been in place, the more compensating patterns have been erected. And the more hardened armor, locking it into place will be present.
A series of Bowen session will unwind these patterns. By gently manipulating fasical sheets through their connections to other tissues, the elasticity is returned. Relaxed fascia loosens it’s grip on muscles, organs and other tissue allowing the communication and fluids to flow at more appropriate levels. Oh, what a relief!
Have you ever felt that the secondary pain caused by an injury is often times worse to deal with than the injury itself?
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 last from 20 minutes to 1 hour. Bowenwork sessions have several unique features
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Gall Bladder Pain
Pre and Post-surgical recovery
Jaw & TMJ
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.