Bowenwork is a holistic modality, and as such affects the body on multiple levels; structural, chemical, energetic and even emotional. For this reason it can be just as helpful in addressing musculoskeletal issues as systemic conditions. An injured athlete, or someone preparing or recovering from surgery, may benefit from a faster and more integrated healing process. At a different end of the scale, a person with a chronic condition, such as fibromyalgia or asthma might find that the symptoms of their condition diminish over time and quality of life is improved with Bowenwork.
A good Bowen practitioner will address a specific complaint as part of the whole body, understanding that the root of any health problem is not necessarily found where the symptoms present. Bowen practitioners do not diagnose or 'treat', but are trained to 'listen to the body' in order to evoke an optimal response; it is the body that does the healing and the practitioner merely facilitates a renewal of that process. In our experience, clients often report that issues they hadn't mentioned to the practitioner have resolved following a Bowen session!
How does it work?
There are a number of theories about how and why the Bowen technique works. The following are considered the most likely mechanisms for action:
- ANS: Bowenwork stimulates the bodys' autonomic nervous system to rebalance - switching it from 'flight / fight' mode to 'rest / restore' mode. It is in this state that the body initiates a healing response.
- Stretch reflex: Most moves are done either at the origin, insertion or belly of muscles where receptors are located, informing the nervous system on the state of tension, length or stretch in the musculotendinous tissue. These receptors are stimulated during the 'challenge' and the 'rolling' part of the Bowen move which changes the stimulus received by the nervous system. This can change a pain/muscle spasm loop.
- Joint proprioceptors: All moves done around a joint directly affect the joint capsule and ligaments that are richly innervated with proprioceptors. Here again, stimulus will be received by the nervous system, inviting normalization of the joint function without the need for forceful manipulation. Research (Carter, Bernie, 2002, 'Clients experiences of frozen shoulder and its treatment with Bowen technique', Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, v. 8, pp. 204-210) has confirmed increases in the range of motion in restricted joints.
- Fascia: Each Bowen move is done at the level of the superficial fascia and affects the relationship between the fascia and the nerve, muscle or tendon being mobilized. Fascia plays a major role in muscle co-ordination, postural alignment and overall structural and functional integrity. All of these are negatively affected when the fascia stiffens, contracts, torques or dehydrates. Following a Bowtech session it is not uncommon to see adhesions loosen up, scar tissue soften and posture and mobility improve without harsh mobilization or stretching.
- Segmental viscerosomatic spinal reflexes: Several Bowtech moves engage these reflexes. They produce referred reactions to the internal organs through stimulation of the skin, muscles and nerves.
- Harmonic vibration or resonance model: Bowenwork moves set up vibrational patterns which bring the body back into balance and harmony.
- Lymphatics: Some Bowtech procedures activate draining of the lymphatic system stimulating the immune system.
- Detoxification is often initiated during a Bowen session, thereby improving the body's ability to function at a cellular level.
[Source: Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia]