August 17, 2022

Bowen Therapy


Bowen Therapy is an Australian muscle and connective tissue technique that was developed by Tom Bowen.  It utilizes subtle inputs to the body (known as “moves”), stimulating the body to heal itself, often profoundly.

Bowen addresses the entire body by restoring balance via the autonomic system (ANS). During a session the client can drop into deep relaxation, and in many cases, even fall asleep. This is an indication of a profound release from stress and shift towards parasympathetic function. When the sympathetic system is overactive, this could partially explain why healing from trauma, illness or surgery can stall or reach a plateau.  Bowen helps the body to shift back into healing mode again. 


Bowen can be beneficial in a wide range of situations. It can assist recovery from many conditions, from traumatic injury to chronic illness, depending upon each individual’s capacity to heal. Some of the conditions that often respond favourably to Bowen are:

  • Back pain and sciatic
  • Digestive and bowel problems
  • Earache and TMU problems
  • Migraines and other types of headaches
  • Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Hip, knee, ankle and foot problems
  • Menstrual and hormonal irregularities
  • Neck and shoulder problems (including “frozen shoulder”)
  • Restlessness and Insomnia
  • Respiratory problems and allergies
  • Repetitive Strain Injury, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tennis/Golfers Elbow
  • Sports and other traumatic injuries
  • Anxiety and psychological disorders
  • Neurological pain and dysfunction


A Bowen Session

A typical Bowen session generally lasts from 30-90 minutes. Clients usually lie on a massage table, or may be seated in a chair if required for comfort. A session involves several sets of “moves” on the skin, with the client draped under sheets or blankets for comfort. The moves are gentle, but purposeful. Between each set of moves, the therapist pauses for as many minutes as are needed for the client’s body to begin responding. As the nervous system begins to adjust the tension level in the muscles, the therapist then proceeds to do the next move, until the entire procedure is complete.

The initial visit consists of two therapy sessions, done 5-10 days apart. The first visit starts to set the groundwork, or the foundation of Bowen. It is like building a house, as there needs to be a strong base to build upon, or the entire building will be weak. By the second visit, the original complaints will already be improving, and possibly some old traumas will be surfacing. These issues will be addressed at this time as well. Often people comment that after having a few Bowen treatments, many of the other bodywork therapies are not needed as much. Bowen enhances and compliments other therapies, often increasing their efficacy and duration of positive effects.

Bowen Therapy offers tremendous benefits to clients with very little effort on the part of the therapist. It can provide relief for many types of injuries and other health problems, both acute and chronic. It can do this holistically, via the body’s innate healing mechanisms. The therapists’ moves deliver signals to the nervous system at specific locations (on muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves), and the body responds in its own time, within its vital capacity. While there are a few, very specific situations where some Bowen moves may be contraindicated, for most people of all ages and degrees of health, it is extremely beneficial. 

When an acute injury occurs, a Bowen therapist may effectively apply the work to address only the traumatized areas, since the client has had little time to compensate for, and accommodate to, the injury. However, most therapists work with clients whose conditions have developed gradually over many years. This allows for patterns of dysfunctional muscle recruitment and improper posture, which creates chronic injury and pain. In these cases, Bowen therapists often need to take a more “whole body” approach to facilitate optimal alignment and recovery.

Bowen is a subtle therapy that continues to work for days after the treatment, as it is retraining years of body dysfunction and re-patterning old cellular memory. To allow the best results possible, it is discouraged to have any form of manipulative therapy for up to 5 days after your initial session.

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