What is Bowen Therapy

The Bowen technique is a form of gentle bodywork. It was developed over 50 years ago by Australian Tom Bowen. It stimulates the body’s natural healing responses through a series of moves on fascia, the connective tissue under the skin.

People receiving Bowen Therapy Treatment
Holistic Therapy

Wide ranging benefits

Digestion & Detoxification

Bowen improves digestion, detoxification, lymphatic drainage and breathing. It aids recovery from fatigue and chronic conditions.

Muscles & Structure

Bowen realigns the body, bringing it into balance and releasing tension. It results in significant pain relief and easier movement.

Hormones & Pregnancy

Bowen supports menstrual and hormonal function, pregnancy and fertility. It is also highly beneficial for all newborn babies.

What is bowen therapy

How does Bowen work?

The main difference between Bowen and other bodywork modalities is how gentle it feels, how quickly it works, and how long pain relief lasts. The 'miracle' arises from the therapist doing so little to produce such profound and long-lasting results.

The Bowen technique is a form of physical manipulation.  It is a holistic, remedial body technique that works on the soft connective tissue of the body. Bowen therapists use a series of gentle rolling motions over muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves and fascia to promote relief from muscular-skeletal and related neurological complaints.

Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds organs, muscles and muscle fibres, and creates a fascial network in the body.

By working with fascia, small movements with light pressure across the fibres can generate responses that travel along their length. Sense receptors under the skin alert the brain to any problem areas that exist in the body. The brain then sends appropriate signals to the tissues encouraging the release of any tension, thus allowing for structural alignment

These responses affect a greater area of the body than just that where the pain occurs. The release of fascia in one area of the body can release tight muscles in another region. It can affect nerves, organs, circulation and hormonal function.

Other modalities, such as massage, work along the length of the collagen fibres rather than across them. This movement does not create the same stimulus, the strong piezoelectric current, that occurs with Bowen therapy.

Another key difference between Bowen and other bodywork techniques, is the wait time. Bowen procedures have periodic breaks of two to five minutes at a time throughout the treatment. These breaks allow the body time to integrate the stimulus before the Bowen therapist begins the next sequence of moves.

Key differences

Bowen versus massage and chiropractic therapy

Holistic

Bowen Therapy is a holistic modality that addresses and balances the entire body, as opposed to focusing on a single area of concern, as is often the case with chiropractic care and massage. It is calming and soothing, and many people find themselves drifting off to sleep during a treatment.

Gentle

Bowen Therapy uses minimal pressure, so it is ideal for everyone, including babies, the elderly and people with chronic conditions. Chiropractic care often requires a rapid force that demands robust physical health. Massage may be forceful and can activate the body’s defence mechanisms.

Ongoing Healing

Bowen Therapy continues working for ten days following treatment. This is due to its capacity to stimulate the body’s innate ability to self heal. Chiropractic treatment focuses on a singular source of pain or discomfort, and the benefits of massage are often short-lived.

Why Bowen?

Bowen helps all systems and functions of the body

When people think of Bowen therapy, they tend to think of it as a treatment for postural problems, and they are right. It works wonders for back pain, neck pain and frozen shoulders. The Bowen technique helps with all kinds of restricted movement, tense muscles, postural imbalances, nervous system issues and pain. When these gentle rolling motions are made on one area of the body, they also affect other areas of the body.

What many people don’t realise when they ask ‘what is Bowen therapy’, is that it is a versatile healing modality that supports all systems and functions of the body. It can relieve hormonal imbalances, assist with infertility and improve the function of internal organs. It facilitates digestion, detoxification, lymphatic drainage, circulation and breathing. Stress reduction and relaxation are a cornerstone of Bowen. 

Back Pain

Man with back pain

Posture

Man hunched over computer

Neck & Shoulder Pain

Woman with shoulder and neck pain

Hormones & Babies

baby fast asleep

Head & Jaw Pain

Leg Pain

Digestion

man with digestive issues

Detoxification

Woman breathing easily

Chronic Conditions

Tom Bowen

History of Bowen therapy

An Australian Government inquiry in 1975 into alternative health practices determined that Tom Bowen was treating an astonishing 13,000 clients a year using Bowen Therapy, yielding reported results of an incredible 80% success rate!

Bowen Therapy stems from the ingenious work of Tom Bowen in Victoria, Australia in the 1950s who recognised the importance of fascia and the profound effect that soft tissue manipulation could have on a patients’ wellbeing.

Although Tom Bowen did not formally train in any bodywork modality, through his study and practice, he developed a form of bodywork that is now known as the Bowen Technique. He alleviated many people’s problems with very few, relatively gentle, soft tissue manipulations.

Tom Bowen started his career by working as a massage therapist with local football clubs in Victoria. He studied informally with Ernie Saunders, a legendary ‘manipulator’ in Melbourne and treating the general public at home after hours.

He developed his distinctive technique by studying anatomy texts and through continual experimentation, mainly by treating the bad backs of his co-workers at the factory where he worked.

By the early 1950s, his wife, Jessie, had been hospitalised several times with severe asthma. Tom developed a soft-tissue procedure for her condition. The combination of a restricted diet he developed and his asthma procedure, kept her asthma under control after that.

His thirst for knowledge extended to visiting the local abattoir to inspect fresh cadavers, thereby obtaining a deep understanding of functional anatomy. Especially about fascia, which is the primary tissue that we work on in Bowen.

He recognised that when he stimulated the body in a particular fashion, then the intelligence of the body would be alerted and the process of unravelling neuromuscular compensations would begin.

His uncanny assessment skills enabled him to correct the root cause of his clients’ issues with only a few moves. Using an assistant in each treatment room to prepare clients, he worked at a tremendous rate, and by 1973 he had an extensive practice.

Tom Bowen became famous throughout his career for being able to cure the incurable. He treated everybody the same, from the poor and handicapped to the well-known and influential. His work did not just stop with people; Tom Bowen also achieved great notoriety for his fantastic success with animals. He was particularly well known around the Melbourne racehorse industry because of this.

Tom Bowen allowed just six people to watch him work and learn his technique. He then invited one person, Ossie Rentsch, to work with him closely so that Ossie could document his work and teach it after Tom passed away. In 1982, Ossie formed The Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia with his wife Elaine, where they began to teach Tom Bowen’s technique. Since then, thousands of people around the world have completed ‘Bowtech’, the Bowen Technique training.

Frequently asked questions

Have a question? We have the answers

Bowen therapy is a gentle form of natural healing. A Bowen session involves light motions, applied to precise points on the body, with significant pauses or rests between each series of movements. These pauses are a unique feature of Bowen therapy. They allow the body time to respond and integrate the signals that are sent to the central nervous system.

Bowen treatments should be undertaken directly on the skin to achieve the optimum effect and to ensure a fluid movement occurs. Please wear modest underwear, and we will drape you for modesty and warmth. Loose shorts also work well.

Alternatively, you can choose to be treated in light clothing, although this may result in less effective treatment. Please ensure that your apparel is loose such as yoga-type cotton trousers or cotton shorts and a light t-shirt or singlet. Please avoid tight, bulky, heavy or slippery clothing and jeans.

Bowen therapy is usually performed on a massage table, although a person may sit or stand instead. The Bowen therapist makes a series of gentle, rolling movements using their fingers or thumbs.

After each series of moves, the therapist will wait for a couple of minutes, allowing the body time to release tension in the areas concerned and to integrate the movements just carried out. Sometimes, the procedures performed require longer wait times. These wait times are a critical component of Bowen therapy. Without them, a Bowen treatment would be more akin to massage rather than allowing the body to correct itself.

Bowen practitioners perform moves over the entire body to encourage alignment and balance before targeting a specific problem or area. They recognise the interconnected aspects of the body and particularly, the interplay of the fascia. Fascia wraps organs, blood vessels, nerves, muscles and muscle fibres and forms different fascia “ribbons” throughout the body. What many people don’t realise is that seemingly disparate areas of the body connect via these fascia “sheets.” For example, procedures performed around the knee can affect the shoulders.

Most clients find the treatments profoundly relaxing, and some feel sensations such as tingling, heat, or cold as the muscles release. They often find they want to go to bed early that night and experience a night of deep sleep. Over the next few days, a person may feel some muscular or skeletal discomfort as their body realigns. They may experience a detoxication response, as Bowen therapy affects the lymphatic and digestive systems. This response is more likely with chronic issues.

Treatment times are usually one hour; however, these can vary according to the presenting conditions of the client. The initial session can be a little longer while we learn about your history and your issues.

The number depends upon the severity of the problem and the length of time the person has had it. Acute conditions usually resolve quickly, within two to four weekly sessions. Chronic conditions may require more extensive programs as they typically involve multiple areas of concern. We often find that once we have addressed the primary issue, other lessor issues become more apparent.

Many people have regular maintenance treatments to maintain their alignment, improve their posture and for general wellbeing. These treatments may be weekly, fortnightly, three weekly or monthly. Most Bowen practitioners enjoy the benefits of weekly or fortnightly treatments.

Please see our ‘Pricing’ page for all our current prices.

We have several options available to treat several people at once, saving you time and money.

While a Bowen treatment is usually performed on a massage table, it can also be carried out on a person that is sitting or standing. Please let us know if you have any special needs when booking your appointment.

Yes, most definitely. Bowen has amazing results during all stages of pregnancy, assisting with back pain, sacral discomfort, tightness with the diaphragm, breathlessness, heartburn, morning sickness and fatigue, as well as opening up the pelvis in preparation for childbirth.

In the third trimester, Bowen can be invaluable with helping the pelvis adjust and easing the associated discomforts of the extra pelvic pressure, including cramps and aching in legs, feet or groin, varicose veins and haemorrhoids, and oedema (swelling from excess fluid in the tissues). Bowen Therapy is also useful in helping with postpartum recovery such as pelvic misalignment, pubic symphysis diastasis and sciatic pain.

The Bowen session may be performed whilst sitting in a chair, lying on one’s side or using a pregnancy pillow so you can lay face down right up to the end of term. Please let us know if you are pregnant when booking your session.

Yes, Bowen therapy has been used successfully in the treatment of infertile couples who have had other physical problems ruled out. It has been the subject of trials in the UK, New Zealand and Australia with remarkable results.

It helps conception and infertility by:
• Balancing the hormonal system and the pelvic area
• Regulating the menstrual cycle
• Enhancing the fertility of both males and females
• Relieving mental and emotional stress associated with infertility

With Bowen, there is a precise protocol to establish fertility, which levels out the intervals between menstrual cycles, and initiates regular ovulation. It can help straighten fallopian tubes allowing eggs to drop more easily and can increase the number of eggs in a cycle through the effects on the endocrine system. We strongly encourage male partners to also be treated to optimise the health of the sperm and because many infertility issues stem from male reproductive issues.

No, Bowen is a unique bodywork modality, which uses gentle, precisely located, rolling movements over particular muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments and fascia. Unlike massage, where the practitioner tries to impose correction on the client through manipulation, Bowen stimulates the body to makes its own corrections. This causes the body to release tension, realign structure and in doing so, achieves long lasting relief from pain.

Bowen therapy has successfully treated a wide range of issues. Often this success has occurred after the failure of other modalities. It is a highly effective, gentle therapy that doesn’t employ manipulation.

Bowen is suitable for all ages, from babies through to the elderly, and for people with chronic conditions. It is a holistic therapy and other conditions often resolve other than those for which treatment has been sought. Clients frequently tell us that they wish they had tried Bowen first.

Not at all. Unlike manipulation or deep tissue massage Bowen is not painful. The very gentle touch makes it suitable for newborn babies, the frail, the elderly, people with chronic pain and inflammation and even people with acute injuries. Many clients become deeply relaxed during a treatment and sometimes drift off to sleep.

Sometimes, people are confounded by the significant changes that can occur from such gentle moves particularly, if they are used to treatments where a practitioner tries to manipulate, massage or move muscles and bones back into position. Bowen can change their understanding of how the body repairs itself 180 degrees.

Some Bowen treatments may involve daily exercises, as part of and to reinforce your treatment. These exercises are simple to do and rarely take more than a few minutes. They begin the day after a Bowen treatment has occurred.

Your body will continue to respond to Bowen during the week after your treatment. Any form of bodywork, even massage, can interrupt or undermine that process. We also recommend avoiding other bodywork modalities for five days before your Bowen treatment.

Tom Bowen allowed just six people to watch him work and learn his technique over his years of practice. Only one of these people, Ossie Rentsch, was invited to document his work. After his death in 1982, Ossie and his wife Elaine formed The Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia, where they began to teach his technique. They promised Tom that they would make his work known throughout the world. Today, thousands of people across the globe have completed the Bowen Technique training.

Yes. It is important to ensure that your therapist meets the professional practice standards, code of ethics, continuing education, first aid and professional indemnity insurance required by the Bowen Association of Australia (BAA) and the Bowen Therapy Academy of Australia (BTAA).

Are you ready to book your bowen treatment?

Booking an appointment is as simple as filling in the contact form on our website or phoning our clinic.

Scroll to Top