Bowen therapy is a holistic approach, which involves a number of rolling moves done at different pressures, directions and speeds. It is performed on small areas of the body, starting from your head to toes. The main idea is to target the soft connective tissue, also known as the fascia. Due to the fact that this type of therapy is relatively new, a lot of people do have complete understanding how this therapy works. Therefore, the following section of the article depicts the key elements every person should know about this type of therapy.
This approach was created by Thomas Ambrose Bowen in Australia. Even though Thomas was not a medical specialist, he emphasized on the fact that therapy is able to rest the body’s pain response. This therapy is believed to inhibit the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
What is bowen therapy?
Bowen therapy is also called Bowtech or Bowenwork. This type of therapy involves gently stretching the soft connective tissue that covers your organs and muscles. The main idea behind this therapy is to stimulate pain relief, including back pain, hip pain and so on.
It should be mentioned that this type of therapy involves only gentle and precise movements on small areas of the body, where the main focus is on the tendons, muscles and ligaments along with the fascia and skin around them. As a result of this therapy, your nervous system is stimulated, which in turn reduces pain.
Some medical practitioners say that Bowen therapy is a type of message and cannot be considered medical treatment. It should be also mentioned that there are not enough scientific proofs of its effectiveness. However, there are still a lot of people that make use of Bowen therapy in order to get pain relief.
What is it used for?
As was mentioned above, bowen therapy is used for treatment of a number of conditions. Although, the main reason for using this type of therapy is to get pain relief and increase motor function. Your underlying symptoms will determine whether bowen therapy will be used as a complementary or alternative treatment. The list of problems that can be treated with bowen therapy is depicted below.
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Knee injuries
- Shoulder pain
- Migraine attacks and headaches
Bowen therapy can be also effective for treatment of respiratory conditions, like asthma and gastrointestinal disorders. Some people reported that bowen therapy helped them to manage stress, fatigue, depression, anxiety and high blood pressure.
Does it actually help?
It was already mentioned that there are very limited studies on the effectiveness of bowen therapy. This type of treatments was not widely researched. During the 2016 study of a 66 year old woman who received 14 bowen therapy sessions, she reported no symptoms of pain that she used to have as a result of bowen therapy. All these sessions were performed by a professional Bowen practitioner. 10 months after the end of bowen therapy session, she was still free of neck and migraine that she used to have before making use of bowen therapy.
Another study on bowen therapy was conducted among 34 participants in 2017. The results of the study were extremely contradicting. All the participants received two sessions of either a fake procedure or Bowen therapy and after measuring their pain threshold on 10 different body sites, the study concluded that Bowen therapy had inconsistent effects on pain response.
Taking everything into consideration, it should be said that Bowen therapy needs more research in order to understand its effect on pain response, especially if it is used for a long period of time. There are also several studies that prove the effectiveness of Bowen therapy and its positive impact on pain reduction, improved flexibility and motor function. But once again, there is no solid evidence of its pain-related benefits.
What to expect during the procedure?
As with any kind of treatment, it is highly important to look for a trained practitioner and Bowen therapy is not an exclusion. These professionals are normally called Bowen therapists or Bowenworkers. The duration of this type of therapy is normally between 30 minutes and 1 hour. During the Bowen therapy, you can expect the following:
- Your specialist will ask you to wear loose-fitting clothing and ask you to lie or sit down depending on the areas treated
- Bowen practitioners will use their fingers to apply rolling and gentle movements on specific areas of the body. They mainly use their index fingers and thumbs
- During the procedure, your skin will be moved and stretched. The pressure depends on the areas treated but they are not forceful
- Bowen therapy involves several breaks in order to your body to adjust and respond. These brakes normally last for about 5 minutes.
After completing the session, your doctor will provide you with self-care instructions and lifestyle recommendations. You will observe your symptoms change several days following the procedure. The total number of Bowen therapy sessions depends on a number of variables including severity of the problem, symptoms, and your body’s response to the therapy. Typically, your therapist will let you know the number of sessions needed for your specific case.
Each practitioner’s visit will have almost the same format. Before each session, the professional will ask how you have been feeling and whether you have noticed any changes since the last session. It might be also the case that you will feel even more pain than before taking Bowen therapy. Thus, it is extremely important to voice your concerns before the next session takes place. Even though your specialist will try to convince you that all these sessions are going to address your pain, you should set very high expectations. Even if you do not feel any improvements after the completion of all Bowen sessions, you will not be able to question the effectiveness of the procedure and ask to return your money.
Are there any side effects?
As was mentioned above, Bowen therapy has not been extensively studied. That is the main reason why the possible side effects are still not clear. However, specialists believe that some of the possible side effects of Bowen therapy can be:
- Pain in part of of the bodies that are not treated
Professional practitioners associated all the aforementioned symptoms with the healing process. Without any doubt additional research needs to be conducted in order to understand any side effects and why they appear.
To summarize the aforementioned, Bowen therapy is considered a holistic approach. There are not enough studies that can support the idea that Bowen therapy is beneficial for managing pain or improving any function of the body. However, some people still report improvements in terms of pain relief and improved motor function. This type of therapy works by altering the nervous system and reducing pain response.
As was mentioned above, there are several limitations to this type of therapy. Therefore, if you are interested in Bowen therapy, you should first consult a trained Bowen practitioner. It is highly important to find a professional who is board-certified. Make sure you express all your concerns before making use of this therapy and ask all the possible questions in order to fully understand what you should expect after the complete course of Bowen therapy.