If you’ve not heard of Bowen, I’m not surprised. It’s a well-kept secret.
I hadn’t heard of it until 2007, not long before someone mentioned this on my website. So I thought I’d give it a go.
The technique was developed by the late Tom Bowen in Australia in the 1950s. Completely self-taught, he became interested in alleviating human suffering and noticed that certain moves on the body had particular effects… And from that the Bowen Technique was born.
The technique itself consists of a series of very precise, very gentle rubs on various parts of the body. And if that sounds strange, it is. And if it’s hard to believe that it works, well I found it hard to believe as well.
As I type this, I had my first Bowen session yesterday. My Bowen therapist also practices homeopathy and acupuncture, and by going there was no guarantee that she’d give me Bowen therapy if she didn’t think it would work.
As it was, I had a mixture of homeopathy (about which I will probably write about later) and Bowen. The initial two hour session consisted of me telling her all about me (primarily for the homeopathy, I think), followed by a “standard” Bowen session.
The Bowen treatment consisted of me lying on my front (and later my back) under a towel, and the therapist doing the Bowen moves. There’s no rushing – between the moves there can be three or four minutes for them to take effect. It’s very relaxing.
(Oh, and as the technique can only be done through a single layer of clothing, I had to take my trousers off. So if you do try Bowen, make sure that you’re not wearing skimpy underwear!)
My therapist did warn me that I might feel worse after the treatment (as it can make me worse before getting better), and to drink lots and lots of water to flush out toxins. (Apparently studies have shown a higher levels of toxins in the blood immediately after a session of Bowen, so as well as whatever else it does, it seems to aid detoxing as well.)
So now, 24 hours after starting, what have I noticed so far:
- Well, I had a pain-free back last night. I still woke at about four in the morning, but that was due to my daughter having a dirty nappy rather than me being in pain. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so just lay in bed, enjoying the pain-free sensation.
- I did wake with a headache that I didn’t get rid of until lunchtime. I was warned that I might feel worse immediately after the treatment (that shows it’s working), so perhaps that’s a good thing.
- I have just noticed I no longer have a very stiff right ankle. It’s just cleared up, just like that.
And after five days I still haven't had any onset of serious back pain. There's been the odd twinge here and there, but nothing "normal". But the course isn't finished yet, so I'll update this as I go along.
My second Bowen session
Just before my second session (about 10 days after the first), I started getting aches and pains again. My therapist seemed quite pleased as it's completely normal for the effects of the first session to wear off.
The second session was similar to the first - a series of controlled, precise rubs to particular muscle groups. (This time I didn't have a homeopathic remedy, though.)
The following day, I didn't feel great - I had back pain again. And in fact, I've generally had a lot more aches and pains (in my back and elsewhere) since the second session as compared to the first. It's almost as if I haven't had any treatment at all.
This continued all the way up to my third session.
My third Bowen session
My third session was much like the others - although this time I had another homepathic remedy. Following that session, all my general aches and pains vanished. Sure, I got the occasional odd pain, but in general I felt fine.
Apart from my back, that is.
My back pain reappeared - and although it was more of a dull ache, it was much more long-lived and would last through the day. (Previously my back pain would disappear shortly after I arose from bed.)
And then - that vanished too. (I was reading Dr John Sarno's Healing Back Pain at the time - click here to read more about that.)
I was left with a few pains in my hips/pelvis - which was what we looked at in my fourth and final Bowen session.
My fourth Bowen session
I was feeling a lot better when I went into my fourth (and final) Bowen session. My back pain had gone, and I was left with some hip and leg pain. (My therapist treats the whole of me, not just my back. From what I can tell, that's normal with Bowen therapists, but do check.)
I left with some more homeopathic remedies - and that's it. I don't have to go back unless, as my therapist puts it, "the wheels fall off".
After a week
So it's early days yet - but I have to say that after a week I still feel fine. Sure, there's the occasional ache and pain, but it never lasts long and it's certainly far, far less than before.
I'll keep this page updated - but I have a feeling I will have some changes to make to my site before too long!
After six weeks
Hmmm, I spoke too soon.
I had a great three weeks, and then my back pain returned - exactly as it felt just around my fourth session. I took a homeopathic remedy, and did some stretches and also used some ibuprofen gel - and the pain vanished. For a week. Since then I've tried the painkillers and the stretching, but to no effect.
However, I've run out of homeopathic remedies - so if that's what really worked then I need to see my therapist again. So my next task is to book another session. We'll see how that goes...
After six months
I've been fairly impressed with bowen - I've had my longest pain-free stretch in a long time. There have been the odd moments of pain, but a few simple stretches have sorted them out.
However, the pain has returned, so I've made another appointment to see the therapist.
After 15 months
I've been more-or-less pain free ever since that second sesson of Bowen. I certainly haven't needed Bowen Therapy again, and if my back pain has returned then talking through the issues that have been troubling me seem to clear it up (see the review of Dr John Sarno's Healing Back Pain for more about that).
So I'm very happy!
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Written by Steve Hatherley.