Restoration Physical Therapy

What is Bowenwork?

Bowenwork is a gentle, soft tissue manual therapy technique that helps to relieve pain.

What is Bowenwork

Bowenwork is a soft tissue manual therapy technique that is applied to muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the body in a very gentle manner. To answer the question, "what is Bowenwork?", this article will discuss what the Bowen move looks like, feels like, and how it works.

The Bowen Move

It consists of a 4-part combination move.

  1. First, the practitioner “glues” her fingers and takes up some slack in the superficial tissue.
  2. When at the edge of the muscle, the therapist sinks into the tissue.
  3. After which, a challenge to deeper structures is performed.
  4. Lastly, there is a cross-fiber rolling movement over the body structure being addressed.


The Wait

Of utmost importance, a key element in the treatment is the prescribed wait periods between the sets of moves. The several minutes of waiting brings about a calming relaxation response. During this time, the nervous system has a chance to process the sensory information and make adjustments.

What Does it Feel Like?

Often people feel a vibration resonating out from the spot of contact, much like the plucking of a guitar string. In addition, others feel warmth permeate the area, a subtle shift, or a transient discomfort as the body integrates the input and makes corrections in order to heal. The wait periods are crucial. Over the next 3 – 4 days, this integration (or conversation between the muscles and the brain) continues.

Learn more about Bowenwork and how it can help the body to restore its natural balance to decrease pain.

What is Bowenwork?

Conditions Bowenwork Can Help

Would you like to schedule a Bowenwork session? Call and make an appointment with Mary Falk, PT at Evergreen Physical Therapy (part of IRG) in Everett, WA.

How Does Bowenwork Work?

Bowenwork addresses the human body as a whole system rather than just the presenting symptoms. Multiple body systems are impacted by the Bowenwork moves that influence healing.


Autonomic Nervous System Rebalancing:

There are two parts to the nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is the described as the fight or flight part. On the opposite side is the autonomic nervous system. In contrast, it is described as the rest, relax and heal part.


Why is this important? Because Bowenwork helps the body shift from the stress oriented sympathetic control to parasympathetic dominance. As a result, muscular tension decreases and nerve hypersensitivity is reduced. Blood flow is increased bringing oxygen to starved tissue, and lymph flow is improved thus reducing inflammation and stimulating the immune response.


Joint Proprioception and Muscle Stretch Reflex

Some of the Bowenwork moves are done near a joint which affects the ligaments and joint capsule. These areas are richly innervated with proprioceptors (stuctures that sense body position). Muscle spindle cells sense the degree of muscular tension.


Why is this important? Because Bowenwork influences these highly sensitive pathways to interrupt the pain-muscle spasm cycle, inviting normalization of the muscle resting length and joint function.

Fascia System:

Fascial networks are sheets of connective tissue that connects everything in the body. Fascia plays an essential role in coordinated muscular movement, flexibility, postural alignment, and overall structural and functional integrity.


Why is this important? Bowenwork helps to free the relationship between the fascia and the nerve, muscle, or tendon being addressed. Consequently, it is common after a Bowenwork session to feel adhesions loosen, scar tissue soften, and posture and mobility improve without harsh mobilization, or stretching.

Segmental Viscerosomatic Spinal Reflex:

Many of the Bowenwork moves are performed along the spine over the erector spinae muscles (the thick muscles running the length of the spine).


Why is this important? Because these moves influence the spinal nerve roots that produce referred reactions into the internal organs, often leading to improvement in digestion, circulation, elimination, and sleep.


Lastly, Bowenwork helps to activate the drainage of the lymphatic system, decreasing swelling or edema and stimulation of the immune system.

Bowenwork move on the ankle.

Bowenwork: A new concept in Pain Management (written by Kelly Clancy, OT, CHT, SMS, RBP)