What is Bowen Technique?
Bowen is a gentle, muscle release therapy that was developed in Australia by Tom Bowen. He became known as the ‘guy who fixes backs’, and the treatment quickly became popular. This is because it’s simple and effective. It’s performed fully clothed, requires no forceful manipulations, and allows the body to reset its responses to stress and trauma. This means that getting a Bowen treatment is an excellent way to manage stress, relieve chronic pain and feel better.
People got to know about it, because in rural parts of Australia, sometimes the nearest doctor was hundreds of miles away. So visiting the “back-fixing guy” was the closer option for many.
Since then, Bowen has become an internationally recognised treatment, used by coaches and athletes in many sporting disciplines. Here in the UK, many of the top football teams have a Bowen practitioner attending the players, including Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Manchester United. Rugby League Leeds Rhinos also provide Bowen for their players. World-class Ironman Coach, Joe Beers has regular treatments himself, as well as recommending it to his clients. James Ellison, British GBmoto Racer, gets Bowen because it enhances his ability to train effectively.
In Hong Kong, many Occupational Therapists, were unofficially using Bowen as part of the treatments they would administer. After some dispute and controversy in 2017, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority officially listed Bowen, enabling doctors to make direct referrals for treatments.
At the height of his practice, Tom Bowen is said to have been treating 13,000 clients per year. From the time of his death in 1982, the practice of Bowen Technique has spread across the world, and remains one of the most effective treatments for the recovery from injury and trauma, because it supports the body’s own healing abilities and heightens your ability to sense your body.
Not just another form of massage.
The ‘Bowen move’ consists of a gentle application of pressure and movement, with the tips of the fingers and thumbs, to precise locations on muscles and tendons. This causes a cascade of beneficial effects throughout the body. Direct effects occur in the muscles, circulatory and nervous systems, and this in turn supports cellular metabolism.
When a muscle is compromised, either from overuse, injury or trauma, the nerves can get stuck in ‘tension-mode’, unable to release back into neutral. The Bowen move is applied to the muscle at specific ‘trigger points’, which occur above and below each joint. Fingers are rolled over the muscle, without sliding along the skin, to produce a slight twang, like the plucking of a string.
This technique is applied to the muscles where nerves gather. These nerve complexes, (called Golgi Tendon Organs and Muscle Spindles), are sensory receptors which tell the brain about the condition, or relative tension and flexion, of the muscle.
The Bowen move directs the muscle to send signals to the brain, which responds by returning a signal to lower muscle tension in that area. As a result, tissues soften and this allows for greater circulation of blood and lymph, increasing metabolism, nourishing cells and carrying away waste.
It’s a simple yet powerful technique because of these physical effects and also because it heightens your perception of your body. So not only will you feel better, you also get better at feeling.
What’s it like to get a treatment?
Focusing mainly on the hips, spine and shoulders, Bowen is a full body treatment, that people say leaves them feeling lighter, standing straighter and breathing easier.
The total effect is of calming and energising the body by focusing the your attention on these muscle trigger-points. As a result, your body’s own feedback system is strengthened and a clearer internal map of your body’s tension state is built. Your body’s ability to regulate itself improves and this enhances your conscious ability to manage day-to-day stress and prevent the chronic build up of tension.
It’s the long-term storage of stress that causes inflammation and can lead to immune system dis-regulation and other stress-related illnesses.
Getting a Bowen treatment will not only relieve you of this tension and significantly reduce inflammation, but also diminish any associated pain.
Many people have left a Bowen treatment without the pain they walked in with, and being pain-free, it’s easier to stay grounded, and centered, and connected with your body.
It’s easy to imagine how this happens when you consider that the entire frame of the body gets treated. It’s like a full body tune-up. This means that from head to toe, muscle tension drops, surrounding tissues soften, and circulation increases, which means increased nourishment, all the way down to the cellular level.
This creates a powerful feedback loop between your body and your attention, where feeling better, increases your ability to feel.
The effects of a treatment will ripple through the body through till the next day, with many clients reporting sleeping better, with less soreness in the morning, being generally able to move more freely, as well as being able to breathe easier and feeling more energised throughout the day.
Here’s what some recent clients have said:
Bowen with Khalil is the perfect reset. I leave breathing deeper and slower and my body realigned, softer and more settled. Khalil gives a thorough treatment, whilst also working at a gentle methodical pace. There’s time to settle in with a warm and open conversation, he explains and gives guidance where needed and checks in regularly throughout. Khalil is knowledgable and incredibly supportive, whilst reminding us of the responsibility we have for ourselves and often providing ‘take away’ practices for continued self (directed/driven/something else?!?) after care. Khalil has been a core part of my well-being practice over the past few years and I truly value his work. G. F. Lo, Business Owner
“I have incurred multiple injuries in my life and received a wide range of treatments over the years and I would say that Bowen has been the most effective at unlocking the old traumas. It feels like electrical signals passing through the muscles. I now have weekly sessions and it has helped me improve my mobility and quality of life!” W. Nash, Business Owner
“My Bowen treatment was both therapeutic and energising. It felt well rounded and truly wholesome, and not only left me with less pain, but with a more intimate understanding of my own body. I felt lighter and more grounded after this treatment.” A. Hull, Designer
Khalil S. Patwa has been practicing Bowen since 2013, is fully insured, and is certified by Ray Smith at The Deft School of Bowen. He’s currently practicing in St. Leonards, East Sussex.