The Journal of Podiatric Medicine, Winter 2001
The Bowen Technique, a powerful, gentle and effective therapy
By Janie Godfrey
Margaret Charlesworth has been a chiropodist for over 10 years and she likes to give her clients as much time and attention as she can in order to resolve their problems and ensure that they are pain-free and functioning well.
For this reason, she trained in The Bowen Technique several years ago and has found it to be an excellent adjunct to her chiropody. She especially finds that The Bowen Technique does wonders for people who suffer from arthritis. It makes them easier and more flexible and for many the pain seems to go away.
In addition, she has found that many other conditions causing pain and restriction of movement respond well to The Bowen Technique.
A 35-year-old woman with arthritis in her feet came to Margaret Charlesworth for treatment. Because of the pain from her arthritis, she habitually held her feet in an unnatural way and this, in turn, had forced her to have special shoes made.
Being a young woman, these clunky and unfashionable shoes were an additional burden to bear. Both Margaret and the woman were both delighted when, after just her first treatment, the pain in her feet and the tension in the muscles had abated so much that she could wear ordinary shoes. This happy state has continued to hold.
The Bowen Technique is a remedial and holistic form of ‘hands-on’ bodywork that originated with Tom Bowen, a gifted and skilled therapist who developed and worked with his therapy in Geelong, Australia from the 1950’s until his death in 1982. The practitioner uses thumbs and forefingers to apply Bowen’s unique sets of rolling-type ‘moves’ on very precise points of the body.
These moves stimulate the muscles, soft tissue and energy within the body and prompt the body to retune and heal itself, promoting relief of pain and recovery of energy. The work can be done through light clothing and a key feature of the technique is the inclusion of short, mandatory breaks after each set of moves.
These breaks give the body time to respond to the stimulation given through the moves. The experience of a treatment is gentle, subtle and relaxing as there is no manipulation and no force is used. A very wide range of complaints can be resolved with The Bowen Technique and the body normally responds quickly, making it a very time – and cost-effective treatment option.
The therapist leaving the room allows for this to happen and far from being a passive action is actually allowing the work to start to take effect. In addition, an advanced therapist is not simply using a set of predetermined procedures, but is actually working according to the physical changes of each client and the breaks allow the therapist a space from which to make effective comparisons.
Julian Baker, the Director of the European College of Bowen Studies, has just written the first book to be published about The Bowen Technique.
“The key to Tom Bowen’s success was his principle that very little needed to be done in order for the body to start the process of repair. He could walk into a room; identify what a problem was and where it came from. Then he would put some gentle moves in and allow the work to take effect.
“The key element within all of this however, is the need to understand that it is not the therapist that is doing the repair. The principles of The Bowen Technique start with the understanding and conviction that the body is capable of repairing itself, given the right time and conditions. As there is no physical adjustment or high velocity thrust movements, Bowen is a treatment, which creates a set of parameters whereby the body’s own restorative ability is accessed.”
Margretta, a woman in her 40’s, had been limping for 4 months due to a painful foot. Her doctor diagnosed her problem as Interdigital Neuritis (Morton’s Foot Pain) and made an appointment for her to see an orthopaedic specialist, saying that surgery might be the answer.
She decided to try The Bowen Technique first and went to practitioner Marian Salter. After only one treatment with Bowen the pain disappeared and Margretta happily cancelled her hospital appointment.
What has captured the imagination of therapists and patients alike, is the speed with which even long-standing and chronic problems can seem to disappear.
The majority of Bowen patients are those for whom conventional medicine and often other forms of complementary medicine have failed. Somehow the Bowen treatment provides the body with the missing key to healing.
Therapist Alice O’Brien, who practices several different therapies, wrote the following to her Bowen instructor:
“I have to tell you of some brilliant results. I gave a reflexology treatment to a lady who had very sore feet. She also suffered with a sore back, neck and leg and after many reflexology sessions, / eventually persuaded her to try Bowen.
”Two Bowen treatments later she only had sore feet. After the third treatment she still had sore feet so in frustration / made a Bowen move posteriorly over the metatarsal arch, a similar move on the lung/breast area and another posterior move on the arch of the feet (on the thoracic area). The lady in question had 3 awful days after this treatment but stuck it out and then had the best week of her feet’s life. ”
Ann Dahms, a chiropodist and recently qualified Bowen practitioner, uses Bowen on knees, ankles and ‘heavy legs’. She finds Bowen to be an invaluable tool to have, literally, at her fingertips and is constantly delighted by the relief she is able to give to her clients with it. One woman reported with amazement: “I don’t know what you did to my knees but they feel wonderful.”
The Bowen Technique has been taught in the UK only since 1993. Osteopaths have always been a notable component of those training in it. In the last year or two, a rapidly increasing number of physiotherapists have been learning The Bowen Technique and they are finding it a great addition to their practices. Bowen also attracts a significant number of therapists for whom the exertions of massaging, manipulating or otherwise working hard physically are starting to lose their attraction. Bowen offers the ideal solution without compromising results.
For further information contact:
European College of Bowen Studies,
38 Portway, FROME, Somerset BA11 1QU Tel/Fax: 01373 461 873
Baker, Julian, The Bowen Technique, Corpus Publishing, 2001
The Journal of Podiatric Medicine, Winter 2001
by Janie Godfrey