The Bowen Technique
by Margaret Bartlett
WHAT IS IT?
The Bowen Technique is a gentle but precise, non-manipulative and relaxing therapy that encourages the body to heal itself. Relief of symptoms can usually be noted extremely quickly.
Starting on the back and using the thumbs and fingers on precise points along the body's meridian lines, the practitioner makes gentle' rolling moves over muscles and their surrounding soft tissue to encourage the body to realign itself. After three or four movements on different points, the therapist leaves the room for several minutes, then returns to start again.
For those accustomed to alternative therapies and the concept of having constant contact with the therapist during a session, it may seem a little disconcerting to see the therapist leave the room at regular intervals during a 40 to 45-minute treatment.
London-based Bowen Technique practitioner and homoeopath Rosalind George says this resting time allows the body to absorb the moves and make its own fine adjustments, in order to initiate the healing process. Bowen moves do not create energy, but connect with energy already in the system, explains George.
For the impatient or those in need of immediate relief, this technique couldn't be better – two to three treatments are usually sufficient to achieve long-lasting relief from pain or discomfort, but further treatments are sometimes required, says George.
Some respond better to the treatment than others. But if it is the right therapy for you, some improvement in symptoms will be noted by the second treatment. 'About 80 per cent tend to get a response,' says George.
The technique is gaining popularity in the sporting fraternity; the Welsh rugby team is reported to be using it instead of physiotherapy.
WHEN SHOULD YOU USE IT?
Bowen is particularly effective in treating frozen shoulder, RSI, tennis elbow, back pain, sports injuries and sciatica.
Kidney and gynaecological problems, migraine, knee pain, respiratory difficulties, physical and mental fatigue and stress can also be eased through the technique.
Some of George's clients return for regular sessions simply for balancing, relaxation and stress management. 'It can be a form of protection as well. For some sportspeople it can actually enhance their performance,' adds George.
For maximum benefit, other physical therapies, such as massage and physiotherapy, shouldn't be undertaken just before or during a course of Bowen therapy. The first two sessions should be a week apart; the third can be done up to 10 days later, adds George. Light clothing can be worn for most of the treatment. Plenty of water should be drunk afterwards, to help the body rid itself of the toxins released during the healing process.
No clinical studies of the technique have been done, but there are many well-documented case studies, showing that the therapy has a high rate of success.
Most people of all ages can benefit from two or three sessions. 'It can even be used on animals,' says George. However, she adds that if a client is in a very delicate state the practitioner should do fewer moves and use greater sensitivity.
Prices vary between practitioners; a 45-minute session costs around £35.
This body-work technique, which arrived in the UK in the late Eighties, was developed by Thomas Ambrose Bowen, an Australian born in 1916. After working as a labourer in his youth, he became interested in massage and body work and spent time observing football trainers and others involved in sport. He developed his technique over several years, and by his early forties Bowen had set up a successful full-time practice in remedial therapy.
Bowen died in the Eighties after fine-tuning his technique for over 20 years. A number of therapies based on his work are now being practised around the world.
Property manager Veronica Farmer, 48, who has to drive long distances daily for her job, had been very active until she started
suffering from back pain in 1985. She'd had a slipped disc and had a curved spine since birth. An osteopath diagnosed a pelvic twist and regular treatments did ease the problem, 'although I was always in a certain amount of pain', says Veronica. 'I was a skier and a tennis player but I had to stop all that.'
Then earlier this year, she started Bowen treatment with Rosalind George. 'I Was quite sceptical, but I'd heard a lot about the technique and wanted to try it. The treatment was very relaxing and I felt very tired afterwards.' It only took one session to see results: after seven treatments over a two-month period Veronica was pain-free. 'Now I can play tennis again and I feel absolutely fine. It's been fantastic.' Veronica's daughter and husband have also had positive responses from the therapy.
Rosalind George works in Kensington, Hammersmith and Covent Garden, London. Call 0171-603 8600.
For a national list of qualified practitioners, contact the European College of Bowen Studies, 38 Portway, Frome, Somerset BA11 1QU. Call or fax 01373 461873 or visit www.thebowentechnique.com
Health & Fitness Magazine,
by Margaret Bartlett