Why/How Does Bowen Therapy Work?

In order to begin to answer this question I have to explain a bit about fascia.  Fascia is soft, connective tissue that runs continuously throughout the body. (We will forego the discussion on duramater for now),  Fascia wraps around and criss-crosses EVERYTHING.  It’s like a stretchable fabric- somewhat stretchable in some directions.  Looks kind of like a spider’s web.  And as I said, it is CONTINUOUS  throughout the body- lliterally.  For example, some of the fascia that starts out on the left side of the head ends up on the outside of the right ankle. When there is a “kink” in the fascia in one or more places, the restriction can transfer to a completely different area.

So. It IS possible that a sore, stiff neck could have started from rolling the opposite ankle.  I know that is hard to imagine but it is the way it is.  It’s hard to imagine that as I work to get the neck unstuck your plantar fascitis can release but this is a very real possibility.  So, when you come to me for a neck problem and I am working on your tailbone- don’t think I’ve lost my cookies- just remember it’s all  connected!

 

~At Your Service~

Penny

Bowen Therapy In Plain Language

Mike Williams from The Center for Massage and Natural Health in Asheville , NC  wrote this amazing explanation of Bowen Therapy after several conversations with me while I was teaching there about this system of bodywork .  Thank you Mike!   I honestly could not have done a better job myself.  Actually, I’ve tried over and over!  This just puts in so that I believe everyone can understand.  Enjoy, and thank you Mike!

BOWEN in plain language:

We know that our body responds and reacts to about 6 million signals coming to and from the brain every second.   This is a beautiful yet very complex communication that enables our bodies to function.  Bowen therapists believe that the fascia system is heavily involved with this process.   Fascia wraps around all of our muscles, tendons, ligaments, and organs and provides a protection layer and a communication vehicle between the brain and our body systems.   In the communication process, there are times when the body may incorrectly learn and adapt new patterns that create unnecessary tension that becomes locked in place.  This may cause the client to experience structural or emotional misalignment.  Traumatic events such as injuries, or even systemic patterns that emerge (e.g. sitting at a computer with forward posture) are examples of how the fasica may learn to hold on to incorrect tension.  Unnecessary tension creates misalignment that can result in dysfunction.  In these situations, the body needs to un-learn these incorrect patterns to that it can re-learn correct patterns.  Bowen bodyworkers help the body to unlearn patterns through light touch of the fascia.  This sets into motion the unwinding of unnecessary tension patterns that are observed in each client.  As a result of this unwinding, the body is able to return to correct patterns and significant and positive healing shifts may be achieved.  Examples of shifts include, pain reduction, improved mobility and range of motion, reduced anxiety, improved sleeping patterns, improved breathing, and overall function of the mind-body connection.  

During the Bowen treatment, the body presents evidence of muscular tension and the therapist can unwind this through a series of light touch maneuvers.  These actions signal the brain to recognize and unwind the tension and to release the affected areas by communicating through the fascia system.  

The best way to experience Bowen is by participating in 3 weekly sessions over a 3 to 4-week period.  Each session takes about 20-45 minutes and may last up to an hour.  After these three sessions, the client and therapist will be able to determine what shifts have taken place and then can work with the therapist on maintaining this new balance.  Often a maintenance sessions every 4-6 weeks are helpful.   

Bowen is not a specific treatment for a specific condition.  The treatment is a method of unwinding the patterns that may be interrupting the normal function of the body.  All clients should fully disclose all health issues that they are dealing with.  As a rule, due to the light touch of the Bowen technique It really cannot harm the body.  That said, it is important that all clients fully disclose their medical history so that the therapist and client may determine how the technique may be most helpful.  Awareness of the whole body and the external factors a client is experiencing enables improved body scanning and better awareness of shifts that occur as the client participates in the various sessions.

Mike Williams

Owner- Center for Massage & Natural Healing

 

Reiki On!!

I found Reiki a gazillion years ago. Or it found me.  And it changed everything. There are lots of people who have experienced and  wrote about “dark nights of the soul”- these are real events in life that change us forever.   We are usually completely lost – don’t know what to do times in our lives, And we know real change is required, if we are to know any peace, health, happiness.  And at these times, we reach out.  That’s how it happened to me.

I’m not interested in talking about where I have been.  I really enjoy talking about where I am going. That being said, I will share a bit about Reiki and how I experience it..  I came back to Forida after one of “those” life-altering experiences. And I moved into a small town and thought ‘what am I doing here’?   I walked into a Reiki circle with Patricia Williams at a store called The Inspired Heart” and knew I came home.  I felt I had done this before.  And I stuck to it like glue.  and it stuck to me like glue.  and I have been delving into this Spiritual practice ever since.

I’ve taken Reiki lots with Patricia, and lots with other teachers like Pamela Miles, author of Reiki in Medicine.  She’s all about getting Reiki into conventional medicine which I had hoped to do in a big way.  That in itself is an uphilll battle so to speak as it is unusual for one to think that a “weird” Spiritual practice could help anyone in the midst of a condition that is robbing them of health and happiness.

But, it does.  The National Institutes of Health  NCCAM (the alternative therapy parts that they recognize), call Reiki a “biofield therapy”.  As you can read for yourself in NCCAM documents and other parts of this website, the NIH does  claim that patients currently involved in conventional medicine tolerate their protocols better, heal faster, require less medication, when engaging in regular practice of Reiki with a qualified practitioner.

Wow!

Let that sink in.

For me- it is a daily practice- I literally never leave home without it.  And have I seen miracles happen? Many.  I AM ONE, And I am pleased to say that everyone I “touch” with these high vibrational frequencies benefits from it too.  We all have the ability to heal- anything. The physical, the emotional, the Spiritual- it’s all intimately connected, and so are we.  And Reiki  is a wonderful, effective, and beautiful tool that we can use to accomplish our desires for a healthy, happy, vital life.

A big, heartfelt thank you to all of my teachers, and to Dr. Mikao Usui- Reiki On!

Much Love,
penny

 

Targeting Primary Dysfunction

 

Targeting Primary Dysfunction with Graham Pennington:

Graham Pennington, Australian Bowen Therapist, Naturopath, and Acupuncturist and Author of “A Textbook of Bowen Technique”, delivered yet another stellar instruction of further advances in the world of Bowen Therapy.

I recently attended his new class, Targeting Primary Dysfunction, in Chicago.  It was a unique, one-off, opportunity not to be missed by any of us who are passionate about Bowen Therapy.  Once again, his instruction, knowledge, and experience has brought my practice up several levels in efficiency and effectiveness.  He has been immersed in and enthralled by the challenge of restoring people’s body’s to proper form and function through the Bowen Technique (as many of us are), maintaining a robust practice for the last three decades, constantly focused on the study of the body and its patterns.  As he states, (and I completely agree) ‘as one delves into this practice on a daily basis, over many years of practice and study of the human body, certain “patterns” of dysfunction become more and more apparent’.   Graham has been able to categorize these patterns and recognize their origin.  With each patient, his constant search is for “the primary cause of the dysfunction”.

Through his practice, he has identified a long list of ‘usual suspects’ and he has recognized an “order of priority” exists with regard to the origins of the “primary dysfunction”.

Using his system of priority, we can clearly see “what comes first”, what is primary and what is secondary, and what is simply compensatory.  With this knowledge, we are able to “target” our treatment to the root cause of each pattern of dysfunction.  We can do some simple (and sometimes not so simple) assessment techniques and rather quickly (usually) we can determine the root cause.  As an engineer, I understand the concept of “root cause” and how vitally important it is in the success of any research or inquiry.

If we go about treating a person’s symptoms we may get some immediate benefits but it is likely we won’t achieve long lasting results.  That is the very important distinction.  In order to get lasting results the root cause must be ferreted out and addressed.  Graham has done this and through his teachings he has enabled us to target/hone in on the “Primary dysfunction” and address that directly.  The rest of the dysfunctions or abnormalities or imbalances for the most part simply “unravel” on their own.  The secondary patterns, the compensatory patterns are just that secondary and compensatory- they dissolve in the midst of addressing the Primary Dysfunction.  It is brilliant work which I am thrilled to have benefited from (and so are my clients!).

Bravo Graham, and thanks for sharing!

~from Penny and her clients! We salute you!

 

 

New Science shows how Bowen Therapy works!

New Science demonstrates how Bowen Therapy works!

I am constantly looking for new and better ways of describing how and why Bowen Therapy works.  Clients call it “odd”, “strange”, they don’t know why it works, they just know it works.  Often, a client will say to someone who is in pain, “Just go see Penny, I don’t know what she does-it barely feels like anything- but she is able to fix a lot of stuff.” Thankfully, I have worked on enough people that the word has spread and more clients keep coming- albeit usually out of desperation!

So, once again I am going to refer to my two favorite hands-on bodyworkers: French Hand surgeon Dr. Guimberteau and Anatomist Thomas W. Myers, Author of my favorite book Anatomy Trains.

My background is in Materials Science & Engineering, so when Mr. Myers anatomy-train-picstarted talking about the soft tissues in the body being mostly collagen (and elastin) and that this is piezoelectric substance- my brain fired.  You see adding mechanical pressure to these materials produces an immediate electrical charge.  Same with quartz crystals, for instance. So yahoo- what does this have to do with the reason the light touch of Bowen Therapy creates such profound changes in the body? When we touch lightly on the fascia (that surrounds our muscles, tendons, and ligaments) , that is piezoelectric in nature, it sends off electrical signals to the brain and the brain instantaneously responds with a host of signals that changes/corrects the environment of the muscle, tendon, or ligament that we just touched.  Changes in tension or density-tensegrity-for instance are made. The muscle that was too tight clamping down on that nerve or pulling that bone off center is now brought back to balance- bye bye pain and dysfunction!

This is about as simple as I can get on this subject- I hope it helps you to at least begin to understand that this is how the body works, and this is why Bowen Therapy is so Billiant!

I will leave you with this paragraph from Mr. Myers in his brilliant book Anatomy Trains: “Guimberteau’s work brings together the tensegrity concepts on both a macroscopic and microscopic level.  It shows how the entire organismic system is built around the pressure balloons common to both cranial osteropathy and visceral manipulation.  It suggests a mechanism whereby even light touch on the skin could reach deeply into the body’s structure.  It demonstrates how economical use of materials can result in a dynamically self-adjusting mechanism.”

And this is how ‘I fix stuff’ 🙂

Penny Michaels, Bowen Therapist

 

“Where it hurts ain’t where it’s at”

I think this quote originally came from Ida Rolf, inventor of the very physical modality of Rolfing.  I find this quote to be the truth day in and day out.  Where people feel pain is rarely the location of the problem that is causing the pain.  It is what is called “referred” pain.  What is actually causing the pain in  the knee may be a dysfunction- a problem- in the hip.  Following this example, knee pain often results in an imbalance in the hips; or more precisely, imbalance in the tension in the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligamanets, fascia) of one hip or the other or both.  For instance, let’s say the right knee hurts.  When checked, there is imbalance in the hips which shows as one leg shorter (probably the left) than the other causing one knee to carry more than its fair share of the load, eventually causing pain in that knee.

When we correct the imbalance in the tension in the soft tissue structures allowing the bony structures to go back to where they belong, pain stops. Function returns. Plain and simple.

And luckily for both the client and the therapist, Bowen Therapy does not hurt!  It is very gentle and VERY effective!

~See you on the table~

Penny

Forward Head Posture- The Domino Effect

 

Image result for forward head posture images

It is being called “FHP”, forward head position.  It’s all the rave due to cell phones and video games.  Especially with kids playing games nonstop on their cell phones.  They spend hours bent over their phone and I’m sure you can picture where their head is- jutted out front in order to keep their eyes fixed on the phone.

So now I’m going to take you on a journey of what this does to the entire body- beginning with the neck:

When the approimately 12 pound head is carried forward a simple 2 inches, it would effect the body as if it weighed 32 pounds!! The result of additional forward force from the spine causes a domino effect on the muscles and other soft tissues (ie fascia, tendons, ligaments) from the neck to the trunk. The length-tension relationships of the muscular and fascial chains through the body become altered.  Due to the widespread facial chains throughout the body, the effects are far-reaching.  It goes like this:  posterior neck muscles get shortened and tightened as the jaw juts forward. Upper trapezius muscles also become shortened and tightened, that’s why so many people’s upper neck and shoulders are chronically “stressed”-hard as stone.  The thoracic spine is pulled into flexion (hunching over), the scapula (shoulder blades) separate away from the midline and are now not nearly as strong or as stable as they were in their normal position due to chronic overload.  This results in reduced functionality and pain.  Further down  the lumbar spine now is pulled into hyperextension contributing to an anterior pelvic tilt.  Now the muscles in the front of the hips are now contracted/shortened.  See what a mess this causes?

The above is a perfect example of how EVERYTHING is connected and no section of our body operates in a vacuum.

Now, here’s the reason Bowen Therapy (in my opinion) is the best answer: Regular massage relaxes and releases tight muscles- it does nothing for the opposite stretched, weak muscles.  Stretching is the same story. Strength training addresses those weakened muscles but does nothing for the chronically tight, shortened muscles.  Even if you do both, you are fighting an uphill battle as you are addressing a holistic problem as if there were a couple of separate, disconnected issues going on.  So what is the brain to do with this?  In addition, trying to address the resultant errors in curvatures of the spine through chiropractic work is also an uphill battle as you are fighting against soft tissues (muscles & fascia) that are desperately trying to keep you erect while you are continuing to put your body in this stressful posture!

Bowen Therapy directly addresses the tension in the soft tissues- fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments- in a very unique way.  The vibrational signals we send the brain results in the brain sending a host of signals back to the area balancing the tension in the opposing tissues and creating balance.  The loose, weak muscles get tightened, the overly tight, spasmed/contract muscles get released.  And we get relief!  Then there is your part…change the bad posture!! You have to correct the behavior that is producing the problem if you want lasting effects from the therapy.  That is why it is important for us together to determine what is causing the distortion pattern in the first place.  It’s a team effort!

Posture is Important!

 

Penny

 

 

Explaining Bowen Therapy- Take 5

Image result for tom myers anatomy imagesWhen it comes to explaining Bowen Therapy, one size does not fit all. I can explain it to some in a simplistic manner,  to others in a technical manner but so far not one description works for everyone.  Given  the fact that as a society we are not used to the idea of fixing a body by attending to the soft tissues in a manipulative but very light touch kind of way, and add to that the truth that we have only just begun to understand the functioning of  the connective tissue systems in the body, it gets difficult to comprehend pretty quickly. It is just foreign to us.

THAT BEING SAID, IT WORKS BEAUTIFULLY.

 I will continue to offer different approaches to explaining why Bowen Therapy works as they come to me.  Eventually there will be enough documented science of the inner workings of the connective tissue-the fascia in particular-that some brilliant anatomist will be able to successfully explain it to everyone.

In the meantime, I will use some images from my very favorite anatomist, Tom Myers to help give you a visual.   The book by Tom Myers, Anatomy Trains, is  far the best book on functional anatomy to date.Image result for tom myers anatomy images

Think of the body as put together via ropes and pulleys (think bringing a pail of water out of a well- pull down on one side of the rope causes the other side of the rope to shorten bringing up the pail of water).  Same with connective tissues in the body. Image result for tom myers anatomy images You pull something tighter over here and the opposite end – or the antagonist muscle HAS to lengthen.  (Remember those toys some of us had that were put together this way? push on the bottom of the feet and the whole thing collapses?) On a superficial level, this is what we are doing in Bowen Therapy.  We are telling the brain to tighten this one, loosen this one and so forth, balancing the tension in all of these opposing soft tissue structures.  This imbalance in the structures is what causes us much of our pain and  our parts to not function properly.  In addition, once an imbalance is present in one area, guess what? Eventually other structures get imbalanced as well BECAUSE ALL STRUCTURES ARE CONNECTED.  There is actually, a “rope” of connective tissue that connects from the heel, up the back and around the top of the head!

Image result for tom myers anatomy imagesIt gets more complicated than that.  The connective tissue called fascia that wraps around and through everything actually has 10 times the nerve endings as muscles do!  So when you say your bicep hurts, it’s probably the fascia surrounding the bicep that is actually givinig out the pain signals.  The fascia is the super highway of communication between the muscles and so forth and the brain.Here is what it looks like:

Image result for tom myers anatomy imagesA spidery web of collagen.  Collagen happens to be a piezoelectric material which means you put any strain or pressure on it and it sends out an electrical signal- to the brain. Follow me?  This is why Bowen Therapy works- we send signals via pressure to the fascia which sends electrical signals to the brain to tell the brain something is out of whack in this area, and please fix it.

That’s probably far enough for today…hopefully the visuals help!

Thank you Tom Myers!

At your Service~

Penny

Why am I not recovering quickly?

 

Why Am I Not Recovering Quickly?

 

Some of you are not going to like this..But you are the ones that need to hear it.

The body is a magnificent machine.  It takes so much abuse and keeps on performing every task we ask of it and many that we are not even aware of.  It makes concessions, it heals, it is virtually non-stop in its efforts to repair and balance and restore.  The number of processes that are taking place in the body at any given moment in time is truly astonishing.  That being said, our bodies NEED rest, downtime.  No matter what your physical fitness level is, your body needs rest.  Perhaps this is even more true for the athlete.

Building recovery time into any training program is important because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues (www.verywell.com)

From Michigan State University: Athletes understand the importance of exercise training for optimal performance and improvement. However, rest and recovery is also an important aspect of an exercise program because it allows the body time to repair and strengthen itself in between workouts. It also allows the athlete to recover, both physically and psychologically.  What happens during the recovery period? The body is allowed to adapt to the stress associated with exercise, replenishes muscle glycogen (energy stores) and provides time for the body tissue to repair.

So, if you are getting the appropriate rehab for an injury and not healing as quickly as you think you should, perhaps you should consider building in some R&R- some days off- your favorite activities will be there when you come back and your body will perform for you better than ever!

 

Bowen Therapy Is Science!

Did you ever study physics? Boy, I did! I hold a B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from North Carolina State University- trust me, I studied lots of physics and the like. I may hurt your head if I listed the classes I took. I make this point to assure you I have a very analytical mind.  Perhaps that is why it took me years to become a believer in Bowen Therapy.  It took me years because it is not taught as a physics course, or a mechanical engineering course, or an Electronic Structures of Atomic Orbitals course. (You get my drift),  It was taught as a ‘manual therapy that resets the body,’ Now, truly, what does that mean?  It wasn’t until I realized that what I was dealing with here is that I truly delved into Bowen Therapy: Physics and Piezoelectricity.

#1) Physicsleverwheelampaxlepulley-1-728

Physics is involved because the body is a kind of levers and pulleys system- at least the soft tissues part.  A pulley works because you pull down on one side and the other side has to come up, or vice versa.  If the load is equal on both sides, then the system is in neutral- balance. If the load on each side of a joint is not balanced then quite literally one side gets compressed and the other side is now in constant tension.  Why do you think the LCL the ligament on the outside of the knee got damaged as opposed to the MCL ligament on the inside of the knee? Why do you think disc herniations take place?tensegrity2

Lack of balance in tension in the “soft tissue structures” – the muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia- that surround the joint itself.

For example: if one hip gets hiked up then the other hip is going to push down creating more pressure in that kneeSo primarily what I do when using Bowen Therapy is balance the soft tissue structures in the body so that this kind of scenario does not present itself; or, if it has, can be corrected before too much damage has occurred.tensegrity1

#2)Piezoelectricity:

Piezoelectricity  is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials (such as crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure. (wikipedia)

This means that when you apply pressure to something that is made with a material that has this characteristic, an electrical charge is emitted.  This is important because this is part of the reason why Bowen Therapy works.  Collagen displays piezoelectric properties.  Guess what fascia is made up of? You guessed it. Collagen.  From here it goes something like this: the pressure I exert here and there sends an electric signal to the brain alerting the brain to do a system check.  It is now known through videos taken during live surgeries that when the fascia has pressure applied to it, a host of changes occur- things that are solid turn to liquid, new capillaries appear, gazillions of chemical changes occur.  In response to the pressure that was applied to the fascia, an electrical signal was sent to the brain, and the brain responded with these changes to the structure that the pressure was applied to.

This is how me strumming across a muscle or tendon results in a change in tension in that muscle and its surrounding structures creating balance in the body and getting you back out onto the tennis courts!

Here is where we start marveling at the complexity of the body and its innate capacity to create change leading to healing. And we begin to understand why and how Bowen Therapy works.

At Your Service,

Penny