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Bowen Technique By Karen

Helping the Body to Rebalance and Repair

Bowen Technique by Karen

01954 260982

07714 995229

[email protected]

Bowen Technique Cambridge

My Blog


My sceptical visit to a Bowen practitioner

Posted on 24 May, 2014 at 12:43 Comments comments (0)
My sceptical visit to a Bowen practitioner
By Carolyn Jarman

I had tried doctors, chiropractors and physiotherapists (each helping in some small way), but my back problems increased to the point of desperation. If I forward even slightly from the perpendicular, I fell flat on my face as my back gave way.

Progressing to back spasms (every couple of days) made me cry out in pain before I collapsed on the floor yet again. My husband had to put my shoes and socks on for me and often help me to dress. I couldn’t sit in a car for more than 30 minutes without a walk to ease the pain and stiffness. 

Despite this I was moderately active at home for short periods between 9am and 3pm, once I loosened up after the many and varied stretches I did. During the night I changed position every hour and ran through my stretches again (sending my husband to another bed). The three mattresses I trialled made no difference to my comfort and by 5am I rose – to lie down was no longer bearable.

My lady doctor eventually referred me to a GP who practised Bowen (I would not have the suggested spinal operation – I saw too many failures of this procedure in my own family). She had recent positive feedback from other Bowen patients but admitted to not knowing much about it herself. The initial cost of $30 (2004) a session squeezed my otherwise tight budget.

As I waited my turn at the clinic, I watched faces enter in agony and smiling faces leave – my hopes soared. Photos of the slender, elderly doctor competing in marathons lined the walls in the waiting room of the remodelled timber house. Some patients sat in the morning sun on the patio with a peaceful view of the native garden.

“Mrs Jarman?” The doctor shook my hand and in a quiet, smiling voice introduced himself. I watched his eyes follow the last patient leave. “I am still awed by the difference in their strides”, he said. I sat in his office, while he listened to my problems, wrote notes, and then explained the Bowen modality to me. He led me to one of the treatment rooms, which held only a divan bed, a chair and a reverse cycle air conditioner. Left to undress in bra and undies, I laid on my stomach on the bed with a quilt covering me. 

Doctor returned, rubbed his cold hands for my benefit and began some very gentle, unique massage type movements down my spine for only a few minutes before leaving me to rest. A note was made on a memo pad attached to the door. He closed the door and went to another patient.
I thought, “That can’t do anything. He must be a quack”. 

I then felt a warmth run up my spine and I almost nodded off before he entered again and worked on my neck and legs, each time for just a few minutes, allowing a 10 minute rest between treatments. About 40 minutes later, I dressed and left with the doctor’s warnings not to use any heat treatment or hot showers; no massaging or rubbing (as one does to any sore spots); no sitting still for more than 50 minutes and to make an appointment for the following week.

Sitting in the passenger seat of the car as my husband drove off, I looked back, out of habit, to see if the traffic was clear. My head turned further than ever before. I didn’t realise I had any neck problems previously, but this was a new range of vision!

On arriving home I got out to open the farm gate. Grinning from ear to ear, I did a jig and told hubby, “I feel like dancing”. Unbelievably, the sun had set before I stopped working at weeding and clearing dead banana plants – carrying the long trunk pieces to the mulch pile (well, the doctor did say there were no restrictions on exercise)! I slept well and continued my new life throughout that week.

On my second visit I gave thanks to my new super hero doctor. He treated me but said I would not need any further sessions. I didn’t feel nearly as good but put it down to the cold weather. A week later, quite sore again, I made another appointment.

The Doctor apologised for my discomfort and questioned me further, finally realising that I had used my electric blanket. Apparently, any heat negates the treatment in the first 10 days. “Heat switches it off”, he said. “We don’t fully understand how Bowen works, but it does work.”

Yes it does, I was 90% better for 6 months. A problem in my groin sent me back for one session but the doctor told me he was not always successful for that area but gave it a try. That made him human to me – he, or Bowen, could not fix everything but it was worth a try. The groin did improve and released in time. I only had one other overhaul of my entire body 12 months later and now (2007) I am 100% fit and healthy. I walk 4.5km daily, plus work around the farm including filing the feet of my five miniature ponies.

An equine Bowen practitioner works on an injured pony of mine now, with great success. So it is not mind over matter or quackery, as many crippled horses also recover to lead useful lives. I recommend Bowen to everyone.
By Carolyn Jarman

Link to original article:

Back Pain?

Posted on 24 May, 2014 at 10:41 Comments comments (0)
Have back pain?  So many people experience it, yet most don’t know why or what to do about it. 

This handy infographic breaks it down..

Dad thanks NHS after being able to walk

Posted on 24 May, 2014 at 10:37 Comments comments (0)

Worcester News
Thursday 30th January 2014

Dad thanks NHS after being able to walk

A DAD with acute and agonising sciatica may be able to return to work and can now walk without a stick thanks to complementary therapy while he waited for a cure on the NHS.

Justin Willis, aged 42, of Beauchamp Road, Malvern, was in such pain he felt he was being ‘stabbed’ and collapsed up to four times a week, sometimes in front of his distressed daughter, Tyler, now aged six.

Mr Willis has been signed off work at Foster Care Co-operative in Malvern his GP since last October but now, thanks to the two Malvern-based therapists, feels the worst may be behind him. ditching his stick a month ago. He has an appointment with his GP on Thursday and hopes his doctor will be able to give the green light for a phased return to work.

Mr Willis has received help free-of-charge from Tim Willcocks, a Malvern-based practitioner of Bowen Therapy, who had read of Mr Willis’s ordeal in your Worcester Newsand sister paper the Malvern Gazette. Meanwhile, he was spotted by Julie Spriggs of Julie’s Complementary Therapies in Morrison’s in Malvern and she also offered to help him free-of-charge on the spot, using Reiki.

Mr Willis said: “There has been an improvement. I am certainly a lot better though I’m not out of the woods. I have seen the two therapists and the pain has definitely dissipated.  

"I’m taking painkillers as well. I really appreciate what they have done.”

He is expecting another nerve root block injection on the NHS but said he had yet to be given a date for an appointment. He hopes the injection will stop the pain completely.

He said: “I’m hoping to go back to work next week (at a foster care agency in Malvern). There are a lot of people who dismiss the alternative stuff but I have done it and found it to be extremely relaxing.

"While waiting for the NHS there are other routes that people can try. Some people say it’s a load of poppycock but it has certainly helped me. You’re just waiting endlessly on the NHS.”

Mr Willis said the feedback from the NHS was that his condition was not life-threatening but said he had felt like he was ‘at the bottom of the pile’. He said: “It does completely mess your life up.”

Mr Willis’s ordeal began in October 2012 with a prolapsed disc in his lower back which may have been caused by him lifting a guitar amplifier.

Since then he has been under the care of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. He has had MRI scans and has had acupuncture, a pain-numbing nerve root block injection and painkillers.

Mr Willcocks said when he first saw Mr Willis it was ‘even painful for him to draw breath’ but believes Bowen treatments have played a large part in his recovery. 

Mrs Finch said: “He seems like a different person now.”

Link  to original article:

Herniated Discs and Bowen Therapy

Posted on 19 April, 2014 at 10:28 Comments comments (198)
Herniated Discs and Bowen Therapy

A herniated, slipped or bulging disc is when an intervertibral disc is constantly compressed which causes the nucleus (the soft centre) to bulge, or possibly rupture the tough fibrous outer layer like the outside of a tyre. 

This prolapse may push on the spinal cord or on the nerve roots, causing intense sharp pain in and around the lower back. The majority of disc herniations occur in the lumbar region (lower back), because that part of the vertebral column bears much of the weight of the body, and it is also the region which does the most bending and flexing.

What is the cause of a slipped disc?
The term ‘slipped disc’ does not really describe the condition accurately as the disc does not actually slip out of place, but bulges out towards the spinal cord. This puts pressure on the spinal nerves causing acute pain in and around the lower back. 

If the roots of the sciatic nerve are compressed the pain can radiate down the posterior thigh, through the calf, and occasionally into the foot. This condition is called Sciatica. 

Hard physical labour can increase the likelihood of a herniated disc, excessive strain or pressure on the spine can also cause a herniated disc. 

They are also seen following trauma such as an injury from a fall or a car accident. On occasion they seem to just happen without any obvious cause.

Bowen therapy and the treatment of a Herniated disc
Herniated discs respond well to Bowen treatment. This particular type of therapy seems to have a much more immediate response than other treatments such as chiropractic or physiotherapy as the pressure around the herniated disc is decreased immediately. The specific Bowen moves relieve the tension in and around the herniated area.

Utilising special procedures in a Bowen treatment as well as the Basic Relaxation Moves, most clients get a degree of immediate relief from a herniated disc after the first session. 

Many clients only require a few treatments to fully treat the herniated disc. This depends, of course, on the severity of the condition. Intervertebral discs are the 23 narrow spongy shock absorbers which fit between the 24 separate bones of your spine. Without the discs these bones would grate and crunch every time you moved. 

Intervertebral discs have very little in the way of nerve supply and contain no blood. They are made up largely of water. The inside is filled with something kind of like toothpaste. As your disc begins to lose water it is like letting air out of a radial tire; the sides begin to bulge. As you get older the amount of fluid in your discs will diminish slightly, – hence why drinking water is very important in maintaining spinal health.

Sue Hamilton – Instructor

The Health Hazards of Sitting

Posted on 21 March, 2014 at 6:02 Comments comments (183)

Really interesting article about posture and the way we sit.

By Bonnie Berkowitz and Patterson Clark,Washington Post 
Jan 2014

We know sitting too much is bad, and most of us intuitively feel a little guilty after a long TV binge. But what exactly goes wrong in our bodies when we park ourselves for nearly eight hours per day, the average for a U.S. adult? Many things, say four experts, who detailed a chain of problems from head to toe;

How is Body Imbalance Determined?

Posted on 28 April, 2013 at 8:07 Comments comments (7)

Interesting image to show how imbalance in the body can cause ongoing problems in seemingly unrelated areas......

Adventurer Bear Grylls' battle with back pain

Posted on 20 January, 2013 at 9:04 Comments comments (114)
Daily Mail                                            
24th April 2007   

Adventurer Bear Grylls' battle with back pain and high cholesterol by MOIRA PETTY         

To the outside world, the adventurer Bear Grylls epitomises supreme fitness. The man who catapults himself into alien, life-threatening environments, surviving on his wits alone, practically bursts with good health - or so it seems to the viewer watching him on television from the comfort of the sofa. 

Yet despite appearances, Bear has been plagued with back pain for over ten years - for which he only recently found an effective treatment. More worryingly, he also suffers from high levels of cholesterol, caused by a genetic disease which killed his father and grandfather - and which poses as much of a danger to him as his Boys' Own exploits.     

Adventurer Bear Grylls may throw himself into some of the most uninhabitable places on earth but the super fit action man suffers from a genetic condition which means he suffers from very high cholesterol levels.  

Bear's father, former Tory MP Sir Michael Grylls, died suddenly of a heart attack at 66 in 2001; his grandfather also died prematurely of heart disease.  

But it was only six months ago that Bear had a cholesterol test. He was staggered to find that he had a reading of six-and-a half, which is very high for someone of his age and fitness. "I had been in the SAS Territorial Army and spent my life on physical challenges. Even when at home I exercised six days a week, alternating circuit training, running and yoga," says Bear, now 33. 

Without these high levels of activity his reading could have been even worse; his older sister, Lara, had an even higher reading of eight. Doctors recommend that cholesterol levels are under five and even lower for patients at particular risk of heart disease. 

Bear appears to suffer from a hereditary predisposition to dangerously high levels of cholesterol, which clogs the arteries and can lead to heart attacks and stroke. 

The condition - hypercholesterolaemia - affects seven people in 1,000. Men with the condition are at greater risk of heart attack: 80 per cent will have had their first heart attack by 60, but many will suffer one in their 40s or 50s. Although the condition is not caused by a bad diet, it can be improved by one low in fats. 

Despite the warning given by his father's and grandfather's heart attacks, Bear had enjoyed a diet rich in animal fats, especially meat and milk which he thought necessary to sustain his high-octane and physically strenuous existence. But soon after his cholesterol test, he came across The Rave Diet, written by American filmmaker Mike Anderson, who had seen members of his family die of cancer and heart disease. 

Based on fruit, vegetables and wholegrains with as much raw food as possible and no animal fats or vegetable oils, it is a Spartan regime, but Bear has embraced it enthusiastically. "After I read this, the links between the heart disease which killed my father and grandfather, my high cholesterol and my fatty diet became startlingly clear. My mother fed my father butter and cream all day long. "It breaks my heart that my father never knew my children. He should have been around for another 25 years." 

Bear has learnt that the key to his survival may lie not in his awesome ability to live off hostile landscapes, but in adhering to the sort of lifestyle advice promoted in every GP's surgery. "I am planning to have my cholesterol tested again soon. But I think my new diet is the answer." Bear, his wife Shara and two sons (aged four and one) now eat neither meat nor fish, but get their protein from nuts, seeds, pulses and quinoa (a protein rich grain which can be used like rice or as a porridge). They also drink oat milk (made from oats mixed with water and other grains and beans; it is high in fibre, vitamin E, folic acid and phytochemicals, which fight cancer and heart disease). 

"We're not bonkers about it - if we go out, we eat what's available. And when I'm on an expedition I eat what I have to in order to stay alive. I've eaten sheep's eyes, the still hot meat from a zebra killed by a lion, and maggots which give you 70 calories to the ounce." 

As well as his risk of heart disease, Bear also suffers from chronic back problems. Twelve years ago, aged 21, he broke his back when training with the SAS after his parachute failed to inflate at 16,000 feet. "I should have cut the main parachute and gone to the reserve but thought there was time to resolve the problem." He landed on his parachute pack, which was like an iron bar, and fractured three vertebrae. 

It was extraordinary that he was alive, let alone not paralysed - but incredibly the spinal cord, which channels messages between the brain and all parts of the body, had not been severed. 

Bear was treated at Headley Court, the defence forces' rehabilitation centre in Surrey. "The doctor said I was a miracle man. I had come so close to severing my spinal cord. Because of my age and my fitness, they decided I could avoid surgery."

Instead, he underwent ten hours a day of physiotherapy, swimming, stretching and ultrasound treatment - a programme designed to help servicemen get back to active duty, but rarely available to civilians.

The alternative - and one offered to most people in a similar situation, but without Bear's peak fitness - is surgery to fuse the broken vertebrae.
'I had nightmares for months. Still, I was lucky to walk away without surgery - but ever since, I have suffered twinges and pains."

Deep massage helped, but he says he always felt physically 'unbalanced' by his injury.Then a year ago his wife suggested he see a Bowen therapist. 

The Bowen technique, developed in the 1950s, involves using rolling movements over muscles, ligaments and tendons.

This is said to send impulses to the brain to trigger the body's own healing system.

Precisely how it works is a mystery, but many professional football clubs maintain a Bowen therapist as it has been shown to be very effective in realigning the skeletal structure.

"I was sceptical, but wanted to keep an open mind," says Bear.

He went to see East Sussex based Bowen therapist Sarah Yearsley.

"With the slightest squiggle of her fingers, it felt like petrol was being put back in my tank and I could feel all the stress seeping away. More importantly, after my back accident, my spine and pelvis had lost alignment, so I felt unbalanced."

Sarah explained that Bear's pelvis was slightly twisted - and that this would cause endless problems and backache.

Most fans of Bear's Born Survivor series will not have noticed anything wrong, yet a subtle misalignment - visible only to the expert eye - can impact on total health.  For Bear, who is often jumping out of planes, having complete structural alignment is even more important than for the average person.

Bear describes himself as now 'hooked' and has treatment every month.
It has helped him prepare for his most perilous challenge yet. 

Next month he is attempting a powered paraglide over Everest's 29,035ft summit.

"I am scared I could black out in the click of a finger." If this venture seems inconsistent with his desire to lead a healthy life, Bear has an announcement.

"This is the last of my big expeditions or challenges. They're getting too dangerous. I'm not on the Ranulph Fiennes road of trying to beat the last expedition." Sir Ranulph has been an inspiration to Bear all his life.

As a boy, Bear climbed the bell tower at Eton, where the baronet had also once been a pupil. "In the lead lining, I found the initials RF. I put BG next to his," he recalls.

But while he is 'full of dreams and ambitions,' he also has a family and a long-suffering wife at home.

In fact, relaxation is vital to Bear, who says, somewhat surprisingly: "I don't thrive on stress. I love lying on the deck on our houseboat reading a book.

"I'm terrified of walking into a room full of people. Sitting down at a dinner table with 15 strangers brings me out in a sweat." Yet, he says, fear isn't the reason not to do something.

"I'm scared of heights, yet I've just abseiled 770 feet off Canary Wharf for charity.

"But the folly of youth is that you think you're immortal. Losing my father and having my children has brought me to my senses. I want to be around to love and guide my sons for a long time."
Contents provided by the European School of Bowen Studies (ECBS)   

For further details about the Bowen Technique please contact Karen on 01954 260 982 / 07714 995 299 or email [email protected]  

Bowen - Pregnancy & Back Pain

Posted on 20 January, 2013 at 8:44 Comments comments (39)
Daily Mail, Monday July 8 2002   
I was pregnant when doctors told me I wouldn’t be able to walk for a year after giving birth    –    so I found a miracle cure.
The newest therapies claim to achieve dramatic results with the minimum of hands-on contact.  These extremely gentle treatments aim to encourage the body’s own natural healing processes.  What’s more, they apparently work.  
In six controlled trials, spiritual healing was shown to improve wound healing and help in the treatment of pain. 
Adrian White, senior lecturer in Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, explains: ‘Minimal therapies are a way of introducing a little peace and space into our lives.  In fact, the quiet and relaxation they produce may even be part of the treatment.’  
Many techniques use either extremely gentle pressure on the body, or even direct spiritual energy to the patient without touching them at all.  Unlikely as it may sound, many patients claim to have experienced dramatic results.  
FRANCES OSBORNE, who was cured by one such therapy of an agonizing back pain that left her unable to walk more than a few yards, reports.  
When, at six months pregnant, my leg suddenly gave way beneath me, I never dreamed that within two days I’d be told I would be unable to walk for a year.  
One evening last April I came back from work, walked into the kitchen and my left leg buckled.  The next morning, a sharp pain had spread to my right leg, my hips and lower back, leaving me unable to stagger more than a few yards.  Each step felt like walking on broken glass.  Two days of pain and immobility later, I had seen midwives, GPs and physiotherapists.  They all agreed: what was happening was a combination of the loosening of my skeleton by a pregnancy hormone called Relaxin and a previously dormant problem with my back.  
There was no treatment and no painkiller they could give me.  I was likely to remain in pain and be unable to walk for a year.  Unfortunately, my husband, a Conservative MP, had to work away from home and over most weekends until the end of my pregnancy.  I could not even leave the house to buy food.  I have never felt more vulnerable in my life and had moments of utter, sobbing, despair.  
And then, out of the blue, my cousin, Thoma, who suffer from MS, suggested I went to see Fiona Meeks, a practitioner of Bowen, an incredibly gentle form of osteopathy.  Within hours I had an appointment with Fiona at her house in East Sheen,London.   
Fiona, a former chief executive of an NHS trust, first heard about Bowen on a radio programme six years ago.  She trained as a practitioner and cured her own persistent frozen shoulder at the same time.  
The therapy is named after the man who invented it, Thomas Bowen, an Australian healer who maintained that the body could heal itself.  Bowen practitioners, explained Fiona, don’t work on the body directly. Instead they ‘roll’ or flick the muscle, stimulating it to send a message along the nerves to the brain that ‘there’s something wrong in this part of the body, please sort it’.  
But Bowen, said Fiona, can help more than just muscular problems.  It is a holistic treatment that can help conditions ranging from stress to asthma.  
She first assessed the alignment of my body and told me my hips and pelvic were twisted.  Then she sat me on a chair, asked me to lean forward on to the treatment table, and gently poked the muscles on my lower back and hips.  
As she slipped out of the room to give my body ‘the space to heal itself’, a warm glow spread up my back as though I was slipping into a hot bath.  A few minutes later, she returned, changed my position and made a few more ‘movements’, this time higher up my back and around my neck.  She then leftagain.  
By the end of the treatment, which lasted almost two hours, during most of which I was left alone, Fiona had ‘moved’ muscles on my back, neck, arms and legs.  My face, arms and back had turned a deep red. ‘Now’ said Fiona, ‘it’s time to walk’.  
As my foot hit the ground, I still felt a twinge, but the real pain had gone.  Now I walked rather thanhobbled.  ‘Keep walking as much as you can’, she instructed, ‘and drink water constantly.  Water and walking are the key to Bowen’s success’.  
I returned to Fiona regularly throughout my pregnancy and she kept me on my feet.  Some people find that their condition can be alleviated in a single session of Bowen, which costs around £40 per hour 
Contentsprovided by the European School of Bowen Studies (ECBS)  
For further details about the Bowen Technique please contact Karen on 01954 260 982 / 07714 995 299 or email [email protected]

The Bowen Technique Pelvic area treatment

Posted on 20 January, 2013 at 6:45 Comments comments (7)
Today’s Therapist International Trade Journal   -   Issue 47  Jul Aug 2007    

The Bowen Technique Pelvic area treatment            
by Janie Godfrey with material by Julian Baker
When a client presents with pain radiating down the front of the leg, through the shinbone and  affecting the lateral border of the foot, it is hard to know if it is the sciatic or femoral nerve that is being affected.   

The usual causes of femoral nerve pain are direct trauma, prolonged pressure on the nerve, and compression of the nerve by nearby body structures or pathologic structures (such as a tumour).   

Prolonged pressure may be complicated by lack of oxygen from decreased blood flow in the area and other factors such as a hernia can affect the nerve.  

There may be weakness on straightening the knee or bending at the hip, which might also indicate femoral nerve involvement.   However it could also be the cutaneous nerve of the thigh that is involved as well and this shares a lot of common ground with the sciatic nerve.  

In either case however we come back to our old friend the piriformis, a muscle that runs from the sacrum (mid-line base of spine) to the outer hip bone (trochanter).   This small muscle is responsible for so many common presentations that therapists regularly see.  Gluteal muscles that are constantly contracting, trying to support the back, hammer it.  

Piriformis Syndrome accounts for the vast majority of what is often referred to as 'sciatica', with the pain into the foot being a clear indication of this.    

In addressing this with The Bowen Technique, the pelvic procedure is the obvious one to give.  This can be preceded by the moves that Bowen therapists call ‘Page 1, 3 & 4’, which move over an overlap of gluteus medius and gluteus maximus where a small ridge or lump can be felt with palpation.  If pirifomis is in spasm, these moves - repeated three times with good breaks in between - can often take the spasm out.    

However, in pain presentations such as described above, one of the most frequently used Bowen approaches is the Pelvic Procedure.  This is also used to correct pelvic imbalances, torsions, rotations, leg length etc.   

It consists of a set of four moves for each side of the body and is one of the most dynamic and remarkable of the Bowen procedures.  It is also one that never ceases to amaze those who see its (often) immediate effects.   

The Pelvic Procedure uses four muscles in its basic set up; vastus lateralis, sartorius, adductor longus and inguinal ligament.  Additions to the procedure will include rectus femoris, biceps femoris and rectus abdominus.   As with all procedures, the moves are fairly gentle and the whole of the Pelvic Procedure takes less than two minutes to perform.  In addition to rapidly adjusting the pelvis, the process will also release piriformis and is very useful for bladder and reproductive imbalances.    

Two case histories illustrate the remarkable effects the Bowen pelvic area moves can make:   

Classic sciatica, man aged 40 -  1 treatment Peter was unable to put weight on his right foot and the therapist paid a home visit.  He was in severe pain and had been all day, from the buttock right down the leg.  He was extremely tense and tight.  The therapist gave him one treatment and was able to observe his body relaxing during the 40-minute session.  He was virtually pain free when he got up and was walking normally.  Two years later, the therapist reports that the problem has not returned.   

Back:  degenerative disc, woman, 30’s – several treatments Barbara had pain in her lower and middle back with some spasm evident, plus stiffness around her shoulders.  She had had a lower back injury as a child.  She also suffered from stress.  She had three children between 8 months and 4 years.  She was moving house shortly after her second treatment.  The pain in her back disappeared after the second treatment when the Bowen pelvic move was added and, despite carrying many heavy boxes during the move, she had no problems with her back.  

As the Bowen treatment is helping with her stress, this has continued.  In her own words: “I have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disorder and have suffered for 12 years with lower back pain which has worsened since my children were born. “All summer long, the pain was severe and occurred frequently, often with the pain going down into my legs and also up my neck and shoulder.  After two sessions of Bowen it was almost completely relieved.  Since then I had slight twinges, which have gone after a few days.”     

© E.C.B.S

Janie Godfrey is a Bowen Technique practitioner in Frome and has been in practice since 1998.  She also works part time at the European College of Bowen Studies office.  

Contents provided by the European School of Bowen Studies (ECBS)   

For further details about the Bowen Technique please contact Karen on 01954 260 982 / 07714 995 299 or email [email protected]

The Effect of Bowen on Pain and Anxiety

Posted on 20 January, 2013 at 6:11 Comments comments (0)
The Effect of Bowen on Pain and Anxiety 

By Alastair Rattray           Bowen Teacher and Therapist   
Tom Bowen, an Australian living and working in Geelong, New South Wales, developed his remarkable technique over some 35 years. He described himself as a “muscular-skeletal” therapist and regarded himself as an osteopath though he had never had any formal medical training. 

Probably 95% of Tom’s clients were suffering from some form of muscular-skeletal problems. He was evidently very skilled as it was estimated in 1974 that he was treating thousands of people a year, often fixing the problem in one to three treatments.   

What has become apparent as we work on a greater variety of cases than just those suffering from muscular problems is that Tom’s therapy seems to work on three different levels. 

The first one is obviously the muscular and skeletal level. Many a bad back and misaligned pelvis has been sorted out successfully using Bowen. A research project on frozen shoulders concluded that Bowen was very successful at relaxing the muscles around the shoulder even when they had remained in spasm for 8 years or so. Children with asthma respond very positively to Bowen. Some research on lymphodaema cases showed that many responded well to this gentle treatment. So that level could be regarded as the “base” level at which the Bowen Technique works.    

At a second level could be regarded the body’s systems. In more than one case, we have experienced a remarkable turnaround in chronic infection for instance. In one, infection had remained constant for over 18 months with antibiotics being prescribed every 3 months which merely had the effect of reducing the infection from “100%” to 70% before it would steadily return to its maximum state. Yet one week after the first Bowen treatment it reduced to 50% and a week later to nil and has not returned in two years. 

At this level the effects of the treatment seem to be affecting much more than just the muscular systems. 

In another case, chronic infection of the right sinus for over two and a half years was resolved in about four weeks where the client had been taking 6 Anadin a day. She stopped the medication almost immediately. 

At this level, the body’s systems seem to gain a boost to get the immune system balanced and working properly to defend the body as it should.   

The third level could be described as the emotional level. At this level, it is not that the relief of pain brings emotional relief but that the emotions are affected even when there is no pain at all. 

It is quite common for clients to say how very relaxed they feel after a Bowen treatment. But the effects of the treatment at this level do not stop there. 

Working for over two years at the Blenheim Project in Portobello Road, West London which provides support and a “drop in” centre for people with drug and drink problems, it has become very clear over a number of cases that the effects of Bowen on the emotional level can be very marked indeed, and last for a long time. 

In one case, a client of the Blenheim for many years, the management realised a very marked change in behaviour and social contact had taken place after only two Bowen treatments. This client was described as one “everyone avoided” and yet suddenly they found they could have a rational discussion with her. This state has continued for over two years. The client also reduced her intake of valium to nil over a period of some eight months with regular Bowen treatments.   

In another case, a woman who had chronic back pain, which had been increasing over a 12-year period, also suffered from deep depression and was often ill. The back pain was resolved in two treatments. The frequent periods of illness also stopped immediately and after some months she wrote, “ the Bowen treatment seems to have had a marked effect on my general health, with practically no illness all winter, and also my mental/emotional health is also much better. I don’t have the down days and depression that I suffered with for years”.   

One of the most common statements clients at the Blenheim make after their first treatment is that they may have suffered the same levels of stress during the week but that they had been able to cope much better and could “see what had to be done, and did it whereas I would usually do nothing about it”. This has been seen often with other types of cases. 

A client suffering very severely from “Panic Attacks” to a level that any crisis would mean her being off work for two days or more, (she was the Company Secretary with legal responsibility for the company). After two Bowen treatments, she was very much brighter and coping better. After about three treatments she arrived to say that she had had a big crisis in the morning and had thought “well, I had better deal with it then!”. In total, she made six visits to make sure she was fine. She came back about six months later during a personal crisis for a couple more, but has been fine for a year now.

A couple came for Bowen treatment to help them through the crisis, which had just engulfed their lives. The husband had been diagnosed with a cancerous growth, about the size of a large lemon, on the edge of his ribs. Diagnosis had taken over 8 weeks and radiotherapy could not be scheduled in less than another two months. Both were in a high state of anxiety over the situation. 

During the first visit, the wife burst in to tears during the treatment as the pent-up tension over the previous months was released. On their next visit, they both said that they had found they were coping much better and were able to discuss the situation together without emotional collapse.  When they came for their fourth visit, they explained that he had just had a scan, prior to having a week’s chemotherapy to try to stop the growth getting any larger. Quite extraordinarily, the hospital could no longer identify the location of the growth as it had disappeared except for a very small spot. The only treatment he had had was Bowen. 

Cancer can disappear of its own accord in this way, but this obviously was outside the hospital’s experience according to the couple. It may be that the calming effect of Bowen allowed the immune system to fight back, but we will never really know. 

One thing is certain; they are both very much calmer and coping very well with the situation. So far, no further sites of cancer have been identified and all treatments for the disease have been completed.   

The Bowen Technique is a very gentle therapy where the therapist makes gentle moves over muscles or tendons in very specific places on the body. It is not like any other technique though there are sometimes similarities in the sites where the therapist works. 

A unique feature is the two-minute breaks between sets of moves to allow the body to begin its work. The “disturbances” caused by the moves are unusual and cause the brain to investigate the area and to release tension which may have built up in the muscles for some reason. 

However, the effects of the technique go way beyond just treating muscles in spasm and affect other levels of the body’s systems. As it is the body itself which is doing the work, usually, once something is fixed, it stays fixed as the therapist is not manipulating, nor imposing their will on the client. 

A feeling of well-being is probably the most common sensation felt by clients after a treatment. It follows, therefore, that this well-being affects the level of anxiety felt by all clients to one degree or another in a positive way. 

It is also a feature of the Bowen Technique that the re-balancing, which is started by the treatment, continues throughout the following week, and often well beyond that as has been seen by some of the cases referred to in this paper. 

While we may be treating a bad back,  for instance, we are also affecting other levels of the body’s systems even to the level of how they feel generally and how they even behave. 

It is no small wonder, therefore, that the technique is being used in an ever-widening range of cases. It is totally safe and easy to use on anyone whatever their condition or their age which is probably why more and more professionals, including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors and other therapists have been coming to learn the Bowen Technique.       

Alastair Rattray  has held the Football Association Treatment of Injury Certificate since 1972 and was Club Physio to semi-professional clubs  Amersham Town and then Chesham United FC for 10 years. 

He is a qualified masseur and has used the Bowen Technique since 1997. He teaches for the European College of Bowen Studies in London, the South East and Essex, and practices both near Tonbridge and in London.

Contents provided by the European School of Bowen Studies (ECBS)   

For further details about the Bowen Technique please contact Karen on 01954 260 982 / 07714 995 299 or email [email protected]