gentle stretching of the fascia to promote pain relief
The Bowen Technique is a gentle therapy that is applied to areas of the body using thumbs and fingers in a specific process or order. The movement is a rolling-type motion of the thumbs and forefingers, and is designed to stimulate nerve pathways. These moves allows a ‘conversation’ to take place between different nervous systems of the body.
Between each set of moves, the therapist leaves the room to allow the communication process to take place. These breaks increase the effectiveness of each subsequent set of moves. The move does not slide or flick over the surface of the skin, but uses the slack in the overlying skin to move over the underlying tissue, so each move covers a small area, defined by how far an individual’s skin can move over a targeted area.
Bowen is very gentle and suitable for all ages.
– College of Bowen Studies
Bowen therapy, also called Bowenwork or Bowtech, is a form of bodywork. It involves gently stretching the fascia — the soft tissue that covers all your muscles and organs — to promote pain relief. Specifically, this form of therapy uses precise and gentle, rolling hand movements. These motions focus on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, along with the fascia and skin around them.
The idea is to reduce pain by stimulating the nervous system. The technique was created by Thomas Ambrose Bowen (1916–1982) in Australia. Though Bowen wasn’t a medical practitioner, he claimed the therapy could reset the body’s pain response. According to therapists who practice Bowenwork, this type of therapy acts on the autonomic nervous system. It’s said to inhibit the sympathetic nervous system (your fight-or-flight response) and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (your rest-and-digest response).
Some people refer to Bowen therapy as a type of massage. It isn’t a medical treatment, though. There’s minimal scientific research on its effectiveness, and its purported benefits are mainly anecdotal. Yet, people around the world continue to seek Bowen therapy for a wide range of conditions.