What is Bowen Therapy?
Bowen therapy is a type of holistic, noninvasive physical therapy that uses gentle touch to manipulate the mechanoreceptors in muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints and soft connective tissues (fascia) in the body. It is a gentle and relaxing therapy that does not use forceful manipulation designed to stimulate the nervous system.
A Bowen therapist applies pressure to specific points on the body to trigger a reflex response, which can help to relieve musculoskeletal and related neurological issues including managing pain, improving circulation and promoting healing.
When applying Bowen techniques, the therapist will often use their hands, but they may also use elbows, forearms, or even feet.The therapist will usually work on specific areas of the body, such as the back, neck, or shoulders. However, by focusing on the fascia, which envelops, separates and influences every organ and tissue in the body, Bowen therapy works to provide holistic treatments for a range of ailments.
What is Used For
Patients seek out Bowen therapy for a wide range of musculoskeletal or related neuromuscular issues including injury, muscle pain, headaches, neck pain, migraines, and fatigue. It can also be used to improve mobility and flexibility. The therapist may also use Bowen techniques to help the client relax and reduce stress.
According to the Bowen Therapists Federation of Australia, conditions and symptoms that people commonly use Bowen therapy to treat include:
- Acute & chronic pain associated with musculoskeletal or neurological issues
- Neck pain & back pain
- Stress, anxiety, and depression
- Lower back pain
- General joint pain
- Sport injuries
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Pain in the feet or legs
- Arm pain & carpal tunnel syndrome
- Pain in the jaw or ear
- Shoulder pain
- Traumatic injuries
What are the Side Effects?
While Bowen therapy is generally considered to be safe, there are a few potential side effects that should be taken into account. The most common side effect is mild discomfort during or after the treatment, which is typically caused by the release of toxins from the muscles. Other potential side effects include temporary bruising, dizziness, and headache. However, these side effects are usually mild and subside quickly. In rare cases, more serious side effects have been reported, such as fainting, dizziness, and nausea. If any of these side effects occur, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
What to Expect from a Bowen Session
There is nothing specific you need to do to prepare for a Bowen therapy session. Generally, you will be asked to wear light, loose-fitting clothing to allow the therapist to perform the movements with ease.
Your therapist will ask you to sit or lie down depending on the area of the body being treated. While treatments will vary depending on the individual practitioner, in general, they will use the thumbs and fingers (and sometimes elbows, forearms or feet) to create gentle rolling movements and will stretch and move the skin. The pressure will vary, but willing never reach the levels of pressure that come with a forceful massage. Therapists will over let the body rest for 2-5 minutes after performing a particular movement.
In general, one to three sessions may be required to start to feel the full benefits of the therapy. However, depending on the nature of your problem, you may require ongoing treatment combined with physiotherapy or physical therapy to fully treat your condition.
If the symptoms persist, you should contact your doctor. For best results, Bowen therapy should be used as complementary therapy and carried out in consultation with your doctor.