8 things you need to know about Bowen therapy

Unlike some other approaches, the Bowen technique focuses on you as a whole person, rather than looking to treat a single pain or condition. During a typical 45 to 60 minute session, your Bowen therapist will use pressure and gentle rolling movements over different parts of your body to encourage it to repair and reset itself.

How does Bowen therapy work?

While experts still aren’t quite sure how or why it works, research into Bowen therapy by the University of Lancaster found that 70% of volunteers with a frozen shoulder gained full mobility after undertaking a series of Bowen therapy sessions. 100% of participants reported better mobility with daily activities and overall lower levels of pain.

Many who have experienced this form of holistic treatment have found it can help:

  • reduce neck shoulder and back pain
  • decrease headaches and migraine intensity and frequency
  • assist with healing athletic and sports injuries
  • reduce bed wetting and assist with bladder problems
  • decrease stress and fatigue
  • regain mobility from frozen shoulder or assist with knee, hip, or mobility issues
  • help with repetitive strain injuries, digestive issues, and menstrual pain

With so many issues and injuries it can assist with, are there any potential side effects you should be aware of before getting started? We share eight things you should know before starting Bowen therapy.

1. It’s suitable for all ages

Considered safe for young people and adults, this technique can help kickstart our body’s healing response and assist with any number of pains and conditions. No matter how young or old you are, Bowen therapy may be able to help.

2. Be ready to discuss your medical history

During your initial consultation with a therapist, be prepared to ask questions, and discuss current and past aches and pains. Your therapist may have questions about what you are hoping to gain from your treatment, as well as to explore other issues you may be experiencing, as this can help them to assess your unique situation. This can also aid them in creating a personalised treatment plan, tailored to fit your needs.

3. You may need to stop other alternative therapies

If you are already trying other complementary therapies such as massage, chiropractic treatment, reflexology, or acupuncture, you may be advised to take a break from these for a while. Your body will need time to recover between sessions to make things as efficient as possible, so it may be worth avoiding having multiple manipulation-based treatments close together.

4. You need to stay hydrated

Before starting, you may be asked to drink water. The Bowen technique needs your cells and tissues to be fully hydrated to maximise the effect. After your session is completed, therapists usually advise you to drink more water.

5. Physical and emotional changes may happen

Following a session, your Bowen therapist may advise you of the possible physical and emotional changes you may experience. Some people experience a number of symptoms, which can include tiredness, headaches, stiffness, and general flu-like symptoms. These are thought to be due to the body ‘resetting itself’. If you experience any side effects, discuss them with your therapist. Drinking more water or exercising can often help, but they may be able to offer further advice.

6. Your body needs time to heal

Taking things easy in the hours after receiving your treatment may seem obvious, but being gentle and kind to yourself for several days can maximise the effects of your treatment. You may feel small emotional or physical changes for a number of days; these are your body healing and reacting to the treatment. Take things easy, and be patient. Strenuous exercise, as well as using hot or cold packs can confuse or counter the effects of your Bowen session. Try to wait at least a week, or discuss with your therapist before undertaking such exercises.

7. Most people see improvements after three to four sessions

Although everyone responds differently to treatment (and some people may need to attend more), on average people start to experience improvements after three to four sessions. Once you start experiencing positive results, it’s recommended to still see your Bowen therapist every few months to maintain good health. Remember: Bowen therapy may not make you instantly feel better, but it can help your body start to heal better, making you feel better over time.

8. You should keep your routine the same

Continue practising any gentle exercise routines you already have (unless advised otherwise), and avoid making any changes to your diet or medication unless discussed with your doctor. If you don’t already, make sure to drink plenty of water and try to decrease how often you sit still. If you can, try not to stay sitting in one place for more than 30 minutes at a time to maximise the effects of your treatment in the days following. Taking a short walk or doing some gentle stretches can be hugely beneficial.

Can you do Bowen therapy on yourself?

Due to the nature of Bowen therapy, it’s not possible to practice it successfully on yourself. Unlike other modalities such as massage or physiotherapy which often involve physical manipulation to address muscle strain or injury, Bowen uses specific moves to stimulate the body’s own healing powers. These need to be performed by a trained Bowen therapist.

This article was last updated on 20/12/22

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Written by Bonnie Evie Gifford
Bonnie Evie Gifford is a Senior Writer at Happiful.
Written by Bonnie Evie Gifford
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