The Bowenwork Technique first started in Australia and was developed by the late Mr. Tom Bowen. Thomas Ambrose Bowen was born on 18 April 1916 in Brunswick, Victoria, Australia. From the 1950s until his death on 27 October, 1982, he developed his unique soft-tissue therapeutic technique that is now known as Bowenwork.
Tom Bowen was not formally trained in any medical or alternative therapy discipline, although, he considered himself an osteopath. He stated simply that his work was a gift from God. It was through his love of sports that he became interested in massage and other manual techniques. After developing an understanding of soft-tissue techniques, he explained that stimulating the body in a specific way, activates the intelligence of the body, and the process of unraveling neuromuscular problems begins. He used this knowledge to develop his technique and in-time, set up a clinic in Geelong, Australia.
Mr. Bowen was documented at seeing an average of 14 people an hour and over 13,000 people a year. Tom Bowen was gifted in that he could help his clients with very little interaction. He wasn’t like most therapists who utilize many tools to assess their clients, instead he would observe his client’s body language and how they walked/moved. He would use his extremely sensitive hands to detect changes in tissue as he worked on his clients. He was known for doing a minimal number of moves, as he recognized that the body was very receptive and didn’t need a lot of manipulation to effect change and unravel neuromuscular compensations. Depending on the individual, this unraveling process could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 7 days. He would always wait a week in between visits to give the body time. According to his own accounts, he concluded he had an 88% success rate in treating his clients.
Mr. Bowen was a kind man in that he was always willing to help someone. He opened his clinic up a couple times a month to offer free care to those who were disabled and was known in his community for helping athletes at sporting events and many other people in need.
What Tom Bowen attributes to his divine inspiration is now becoming one of the most powerful healing modalities in the world. Not long after Tom Bowen passed away in 1982, the Bowen Academy of Australia was founded by Ossie and Elaine Rentsch in 1987. They were fortunate to have studied with Tom Bowen and were responsible for creating a format in which to teach it. Bowenwork has spread rapidly since then and is now being taught and practiced in over 40 countries.
What is Bowenwork?
Bowenwork™ strongly affects the autonomic nervous system, the system responsible for stress reactions such as the “fight or flight” reaction, as well as the recovery responses of the body. When Bowenwork helps reduce the “stress-oriented” dominance of the sympathetic part of the system, muscle tension decreases, nerve hypersensitivity is reduced and the feedback loops that control acute pain in the body are interrupted. At the same time that is happening, the parasympathetic portion is reciprocally restored, increasing blood and lymph flow, feeding starved tissue and reducing inflammation. People can feel shifts in their bodies during and after Bowenwork sessions while the autonomic system comes back into balance. As this happens, the healing process can accelerate.
Spasm and inflammation, normally healthy responses immediately after an injury, too often remain long after and become the problem. Bowenwork™ can directly relieve these symptoms through reducing sympathetically maintained muscle contraction and increased blood and lymph flow. While there are often immediate positive results, they are just as likely to unfold over a longer period of a few days to a week. Patterns of dysfunction that have arisen over time may take time and repetition to be replaced with new, healthy patterns. Bowenwork™ can restore patterns of normal function within 3-4 sessions with 3-8 being an ordinary treatment protocol.
Bowenwork consists of several series of gentle moves through light-weight clothing. Several minutes are allowed between moves to give the body time to respond. In a Bowenwork office or clinic, a session may last from fifteen minutes to an hour.
The client usually lies on a bed or bodywork table or, for comfort, in a chair. However, Bowenwork can be done anywhere – on the sports field, in a hospital room, at the site of an accident, on an airplane or train.
Most often, a surprisingly few sessions are needed to alleviate complaints, whether structural or functional, even if long-standing, and the results hold for a long time, generally until there is a re-injury.
Bowenwork is completely safe and appropriate for everyone from newborns to the very elderly and frail. Highly trained athletes and pregnant women benefit equally, each according to need. Although there are three circumstances in which a specific series of moves, is contraindicated, there are no contraindications for a Bowenwork session, as other parts of the body and the body as a whole will still benefit.