Providing relief from pain
Heidi Rootes, ND
The cycle of pain can be difficult to break. I was caught in just such a cycle. My options looked bleak until Bowen therapy.
The cycle of pain can be difficult to break. I was caught in just such a cycle involving anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants. My options looked bleak until I discovered Bowen therapy.
This therapy provided permanent relief from the excruciating pain of sciatica that developed during a normal, healthy pregnancy. After several weeks of pain I found relief, not from a creme or a pill, but simply from a pair of hands.
The mechanism behind Bowen therapy utilizes the relationship between muscles and the nerves that stimulate them. Each muscle in our bodies is controlled by a nervous system centre that feeds the brain with messages based on changes in muscle length and tone.
The brain sends messages to hold a shortened muscle length so that we are able to sustain a muscle contraction. Sometimes, though, the body gets stuck in this holding pattern. The result is loss of movement and pain.
Our bodies permanently compensate for any number of conditions—from poor posture, injury, and prolonged sitting, to weak core strength and over- or underdeveloped muscles—with changes in our musculoskeletal system, resulting in increased muscle tension in different areas of the body.
For example, a patient of mine suffered from frozen shoulder and could not lift her arm more than a few centimetres away from her hip. This restriction in motion was due to the muscles around her shoulder joint holding a sustained contraction that prevented movement of the arm. By relaxing these muscles through Bowen therapy, she regained full range of motion and could lift her arm above her head in only a matter of weeks.
Bowen therapy is a gentle type of body work that helps to release muscle tension by resetting the musculoskeletal system. The Bowen practitioner challenges a muscle by applying light pressure to stimulate the nervous system centre in the muscle, which sends a message to the brain asking it to relax the muscle. The effect of Bowen therapy is a released contraction, improved mobility, and consequently, relief from pain.
As both a practitioner and a patient of Bowen therapy, I have witnessed the incredible relief that it can provide. My own personal testament as a patient was enough to start me down this path in practice: after only three treatments for sciatica I was completely free from pain.
To learn more about Bowen therapy or to find a practitioner near you, log onto bowendirectory.com.
What can I expect during a Bowen therapy session?
Each Bowen therapy session lasts about 45 minutes, during which the patient lies fully clothed on a massage table and focuses on relaxation. The goal of the first treatment is to realign the spine. Subsequent treatments are decided according to pain patterns and shifts that occur in the patient during the week between sessions.
The therapy consists of a series of moves in which the practitioner first applies light pressure until the muscle responds and a slight relaxation is felt. The practitioner then slowly and lightly rolls the muscle. He or she then leaves the room for a short, two-minute wait, allowing the patient’s body to respond before another movement is made.
The overall effect varies between people. Some patients feel an immediate tension release or decrease in pain. Other patients experience a significant shift in tension only after several treatments. In my practice I find about 85 percent of people respond favourably by the third Bowen therapy treatment, and often resolution is found in four to six treatments over a period of several weeks.
Bowen therapy can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. Since the therapy focuses on musculature, any part of the body that has muscle association can benefit. This includes skeletal muscles involved in conditions such as
It also includes smooth muscle disorders: