What is Bowen?

Bowen is hands-on healthcare.  It consists of sequences of rolling movements of the practitioner’s thumbs or fingers over precisely located sites on the body.  These movements serve to signal the body to remember how to heal a variety of health issues.

Where did it originate?

Bowen came from Australia.  Tom Bowen developed it over a period of several decades by working with athletes and injured laborers.  It arose from his study and understanding of the structural and healing mechanisms of the body and his interest in osteopathic principles.  Tom Bowen practiced in Australia from 1958 until his passing in 1982.

What does it do?

Bowen provides gentle and profoundly effective signals to the brain for healing and recovery through the stimulation of special receptors in the tendons, muscles, and ligaments of the body.  These stimuli can result in deep relaxation, resetting of muscular tension and range of motion, lymph drainage, pain and inflammation reduction, and pain relief.

How long does a session last?

A typical Bowen session lasts from 30 to 90 minutes.

How often and how many times do I need to come?

Initially, two Bowen sessions are scheduled a week apart.  Clients usually see significant improvement within these two sessions.  Additional sessions are scheduled at least a week apart as needed, with most conditions resolving within 3-8 sessions.

What are the main objectives of Bowen?

Bowen helps the body remember how to heal.  There is always focus on relaxation, reduction of the “fight or flight response”, and engagement of the body’s perfect pattern memory for the area that is in pain contracted or otherwise out of healthy balance.

Is Bowen safe?

Bowen is appropriate for all ages and stages of health from babies to the frailest and elderly, for the extremely fit and the sedentary or debilitated.  The application of Bowen is so gentle, partnering with the body, that there is no possibility of harm.

How is Bowen different from traditional massage and bodywork?

Bowen is distinguished by its effectiveness in very few sessions.  It does not hurt and can bring permanent relief rapidly.  The work is performed with the client lying on a table or sitting in a chair.  The client remains clothed, and no oil or lotion is used.

How does Bowen know where to work?

We don’t know how Tom Bowen discovered the precise locations and sequences of “moves”; but we, and millions of clients around the world are glad he did!  It uses minimal intervention to bring the body’s attention to the area needing help.

Why is such light pressure used?

Less really is more in this case.  Less pressure brings more results than heavy pressure.

Will I have to hurt more before I feel better?

In most cases, pain is not a part of Bowen.  Bowen does not have to cause pain to relieve it.  If the problem is of long duration or there has been extensive weakening of the area, there may be discomfort from new movement in a previously “rusty” area or from using a muscle that has decreased strength and stamina.

How soon should I feel relief?

Relief can come very quickly from a session of Bowen, sometimes almost instantaneously.  There is a great variability in individuals’ ability to heal and the rate at which they do so.  Normally results can come within the first week after the initial session.  Usually, 3-8 sessions spaced a week apart are sufficient for most issues.

The relief was short term. Was the session a failure?

First, the fact that there was relief is a sign that you had a good response to Bowen.  There can be several reasons why the relief was temporary.  The main reason is that the body may need more than one reminder of good health before it remembers to continue with the pattern.  Therefore, we recommend two initial sessions spaced 5 to 10 days apart.

How long do the effects of a Bowen session last?

The effects of a Bowen session begin during the session and continue working for at least 3-4 days after the session.  This is why we ask for 5-10 days in between sessions — to give the body the best chance to integrate the work.

Will the problem come back?

The problem may come back if issues of muscle weakness and stamina, and the possibility of re-injury are not addressed.  If the client supports their recovery with appropriate activity, good nutrition, hydration, and avoids re-injury, the likelihood of the problem returning is very low.

What do I have to do to help my recovery?

Taking a 15-minute walk and drinking 8-12 glasses of water a day are usually suggested to assist recovery by helping move the metabolites.  Other types or restorative movement may be suggested, depending on the issue being addressed.

Does Bowen have any negative effects?

There can be residual soreness from the release of metabolic waste products, from positive shifts in the structural alignment of the body, or the return of movement to an area previously unused.  These effects are minor and usually dissipate quickly.  For some, Bowen can be a powerful form of healing which may occasionally provoke a stronger response (muscles aches, fatigue, cold-like symptoms) in some people which is sometimes referred to as a “healing crisis.”  If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the clinic at 503-747-4696.

Will Bowen help a recent injury?

While Bowen is helpful in so many situations, it often has its most dramatic effects in addressing recent injuries.  The sooner Bowen is applied to an injury, the faster and more powerful the recovery can be.  Bowen helps the Body bypass the unnecessary pain and inflammation reactions and get right to healing.

Will Bowen help a chronic problem?

Bowen will assist the body in recovering its healthy balance even with a chronic problem.  Chronic problems may respond more slowly as the body works to change a familiar unhealthy pattern to a new healthy one.  One of the interesting things to observe is the ability of the body to process old accidents during and after the session.  It is almost as if the body stores a “memory” of a blow or trauma, which can be held in a frozen state for many years.  Bowen work seems to allow the body to “unfreeze” these areas that have been compensating ever since.

Will Bowen reduce stress?

Bowen reduces the effects of stress immediately.  During sessions clients report sensations of calmness.  The pattern of shallow breathing, rapid heart rate, and hypersensitivity, so common to highly-stressed individuals, often changes dramatically.  Breathing deepens, heart rate slows, jumpiness decreases.  Using Bowen regularly lays the groundwork for a healthy anti-stress regimen.

I was told I must live with pain. Can Bowen help?

Thousands have tried Bowen as a last resort after having been told “you must live with your pain.” Bowen practitioners regularly see significant change if not complete recovery in over 70% of our clients.

Can I do Bowen along with other forms of therapy?

Bowen can be used in appropriate sequence with a variety of therapies, with sufficient time allowed for Bowen to take effect.  Having several sessions of each type of work before switching to another generally yields better results than alternating after only one session of each or spacing the sessions too close together.

What about Bowen and the medications I’m taking?

Bowen has no negative interactions with medications.  There may be a long-term benefit of reduced need for medication as a result of Bowen.  Before reducing or discontinuing any medication, always consult the health care professional who prescribed it to you.

What about Bowen and chiropractic, acupuncture, message therapy?

Bowen can be effective with any of the mentioned modalities.  If the treatment is applied too soon before or after a Bowen session, however, it can erase the effects of Bowen.  There has to be a careful scheduling of the modalities.

What about Bowen and homeopathy?

Bowen and homeopathy are very similar in principle and work very well together.

What about Bowen and exercise?

Exercise after a Bowen session does not interfere with the benefits of Bowen if the exercise is done in a moderate range for the individual.

Is Bowen an ongoing treatment therapy?

Not necessarily, but you might like it! Most conditions are essentially resolved in two to three sessions; however chronic conditions may require more extensive programs.  Many clients have routine maintenance treatments at different intervals to maintain body balance.

I have been told that you do not need to disrobe for Bowen treatment. Is that true?

Yes, this is correct.  Bowen may be done through clothing.  However, you may be asked to remove bulky items such as thick sweaters or heavy jeans.  Ideally, clothing should be light and loose with only one layer to work through.

I am pregnant. Can I have Bowen therapy?

Yes, most definitely.  Bowen has amazing results for pregnant women, assisting with back pain and sacral discomfort.  Please remember to tell your therapist that you are pregnant when arriving for your session.

Is Bowen Expensive?

Not necessarily.  For a private session, Bowenwork professionals charge about the same as other bodyworkers.  Here at the community clinic we provide Bowen in a group setting, bringing down the cost per person.  Our goal is to provide convenient, affordable, easy access to manual therapies – making effective, quality healthcare truly available to as many people as possible.