Category Archives: The Bowen Technique

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 shorten.  (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 muscle 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

Old Injuries Contributing to New Injuries?

Yes! This can definitely be the case. This is especially so if those old soft tissue injuries were never properly addressed- which is often the case. Say, for instance, you broke your ankle, and the bones were properly taken care of but you had to wear a boot for awhile.  Wearing a boot of course throws off your hips a bit- one leg and hip contracts (the one with the boot) as if you have a shorter leg.  These muscles need to be released after the boot is removed.  In addition, even though the break was properly set, all of the soft tissues around that break were traumatized as well, and you have probably heard that “muscles have memory.”  The body is brilliant at protecting itself and sometimes in doing so, is a bit over-zealous.  Signaling the brain to reset the tension in these tissues will ensure that the body is back in proper balance, avoiding issues down the road. Bowen Therapy does this easily and efficiently.

There are many scenarios here- too many to list. A recent example: a client that came to me “all-of-a-sudden” having issues getting up and walking after sitting a bit, and had no idea why.  After assessment and a couple treatments it became apparent that although the current issue presented in the low back and hips, the culprit was a 20 year old injury to the achilles tendon which had excessive scar tissue severly restricting movement of the ankle.  We are currently working to break up the scar tissue in the ankle (in order to restore range of motion to the ankle) as we work to restore balance to the hips.  Rebalancing the hips without restoring proper function to the ankle would have only temporary results.

Bottom line: a new pain in one area can be attributed to an old injury in another area. Yet another reason to visit your very own Bowen Therapist!

I’m here for you~

Penny

 

plantar fasciitis

Illustration showing plantar fascia and location of heel pain

On the internet the Mayo Clinic described plantar fasciitis as one of the most common causes of heel pain.”It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia).”  The article goes on to say that the cause is not known and that it can lead to back and hip problems. (address of the article: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/plantar-fasciitis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20268536).

In the world of Bowen Therapy (Osteopaths get this), we see the body as a whole, not pieces and parts. For us, everything is connected and therefore intimately involved with everything else.  When someone comes to me with plantar fasciitis, the first thing I am going to address is balance in the hip structures.  A “conventional” medicine person would probably not look above the ankle.

You see if the hips are out of balance, it causes one leg to appear shorter than the other, and you end of putting much more pressure on the “long leg” foot thereby straining the muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia on that leg.  All of those soft tissues transfer weight/pressure/strain to the foot causing tightening of the fascia in the foot.  You can massage that foot all you want (and this is good! don’t get me wrong) but you are not fixing the initial problem in most cases.  You have to address balance in tension of the soft tissues from the hips down, and sometimes from the neck down.  It’s all connected!

So, if plantar fasciitis is a problem for you- come see me!

 

 

Today’s favorite Definition of Bowen Therapy

One of my favorite instructors, Australian Acupunturist, Bowen Therapist, and author of  A Textbook of BowenTechnique, Graham Pennington offers us today’s favorite (my opinion) definition of Bowen therapy:

Bowen Therapy is a neuromusculosketel appproach to Health Care that employs soft tissue manipulation, for the correction of mechanical and neural dysfunction. Treatment is based on a holistic appreciation of interrelationships within the body and is intended to facilitate the body’s natural capacity to self-regulate and heal.

We continually strive to architect a definition of Bowen Therapy that is simple, straightforward, and understandable- an insurmountable effort-  Especially since we are true neophytes with respect to understanding the brilliant complexity of our human bodies!

This will Blow Your Mind! How intelligent our Fascial network is

Attached is a youtube video showing very clearly the importance of and incredible function of the Fascial system.  THIS is the system that we are addressing during a Bowen Therapy session.  Enjoy actually SEEING how incredibly complex and intelligent the tissues of our body are ! Bowen Therapy is incredibly difficult to define and you can see why as this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.  We are truly just now gaining insight into the incredible complexity of the connective tissue system and its intelligence.

The bottom line to the trained observer is that  even the slightest pressure to the connective tissue  sends signals to the brain and a multitude of changes in the structure begins to happen!  This is EXACTLY what happens during a Bowen Session that results in amazing changes to the structures of the body- simply with light touch, things move, shift, balance, and heal.  Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW0lvOVKDxE

Explaining Bowen Therapy

I’ve been practicing Bowen Therapy for years-and for just as long I have been struggling with explaining Bowen Therapy in a way that actually makes sense to people.  One of my instructors, An Australian Acupuncturist/Bowen Therapist, doesn’t have this problem.  That is because in Australia, the UK, and much of Europe, Bowen Therapists are as abundant and well-known as chiropractors are here.  Unfortunately, this is not the case (yet) in the U.S.  I think that is about to change, and this is why: Tons of research regarding fascia that has been conducted over the last decade is being published everywhere you look! Fascinating research that explains much of what Bowen Therapists see everyday.

What is fascia? Well, again, that definition is in flux.  It is getting more complex everyday with more and more information becoming available.   From  Anatomy Trains author Tom Myers regarding fascia: “Fascia is the biological fabric that holds us together, the connective tissue network. You are about 70 trillion cells – neurons, muscle cells, epithelia – all humming in relative harmony; fascia is the 3-D spider web of fibrous, gluey, and wet proteins that binds them all together in their proper placement.  Our biomechanical regulatory system is highly complex and under-studied – though new research is filling in the gap. Understanding fascia is essential to the dance between stability and movement – crucial in high performance, central in recovery from injury and disability, and ever-present in our daily life from our embryological beginnings to the last breath we take”.

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(image from MacKay Center for Health and Healing)

So how does this help in explaining Bowen Therapy?  When a Bowen Therapist puts her hands on people and lightly manipulates “pieces and parts”,  she is directily manipulating fascia.  Fascia to me is like the communication superhighway of the body.  Every signal sent through it through direct pressure, sends signals back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body.  This is how we “tell” the brain to change tension in various muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  And this is how we restore the body to balance; thereby eliminating pain and dysfunction! And voila! Our clients are no longer in pain, no longer have to look to invasive procedures or drugs, and they return to their normal activities.

The other part of fascia that I want to talk briefly about is how it runs through the body.  The reason for this is it is an odd thing to come to a therapist for a frozen shoulder say, and have them working on your knees! I know! More than once people have thought ‘what the heck is this lunatic doing’? The explanation is that every part of our body is connected to and affected by every other part.  How? FASCIA.  It runs through and wraps around virtually every piece of our body, oftentimes criss-crossing along the way.  So, when you say to us during a treatment, “uh, I told you it’s the LEFT shoulder” (as we work on the right)- yeah we know:)

So, there you have it- My latest attempt at explaining our trade. My hope is that at least some of this is starting to make sense to you.  I will continue my efforts until everyone says – “Yay Bowen”! Like my clients do! (And by the way, be careful in promising your house to your Bowen Therapist if she fixes your ailment!:)

Until next time- health and happiness to you!

Penny Michaels, Bowen Therapist

www.pennymichaels.com

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Scoliosis and Bowen Therapy

fab 2016 bowen 045seventy year old client ended up on my table for a Bowen treatment- only because a neighbor touted my work that kept him from having a knee replacement. This client had spent most of her life literally trying to unravel her body which had a serious scoliosis distortion in 3D.  She had worked continuously on her own and with therapists of several modalities- with very limited success.

Enter Bowen Therapy- First treatment nothing unusual.  Second treatment her body started “unwinding”- for an hour and a half.  Third treatment her body “unwound” for three and a half solid hours on my table!  Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it.  Astonishing really.  What I mean by “unwinding” is literal- her body “contorted” quite unusually with the right shoulder and left hip going up at the same time, hanging out there and then relaxing followed by the same on the opposite side, followed by the ribs undulating, and it went on and on and on.  At the end of the treatment, her spine was COMPLETELY straight and she had a lumbar curve which she says she hasn’t had for many years. She commented that she did a yoga “cat-cow” and thought her belly was going to hit the floor:)

Working with her has been a huge education for me.  I have always known that the body has unlimited capacity to heal itself, but how it goes about that is a truly amazing process.  I simply give it vibrational signals and it does the rest. We are not done yet , it is a process, and an amazing one.  She has grown nearly 3/4″ and her posture has completely changed.

The point is: no matter how long a distortion pattern has been locked in the body, “IT IS POSSIBLE TO UNWIND ITSELF”!! So, for those of you out think “it’s always going to be this way”, don’t give up! Bowen Therapy may be the answer!

Yogis Know About Balance!

yoga_three_panel

The other day I was in an absolutely delicious yoga class.  The instructor was educating us on the importance of balance in the muscles and connective tissue- front to back and left side to right side.  She was singing my tune!

In Bowen Therapy, we talk about something called “tensegrity”:

ten·seg·ri·ty (ten-seg’ri-tē)

A concept of muscular-skeletal relationships based on the work of architect Buckminster Fuller; refers to the forces of tension (provided by muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia) pulling on structure (bones and joints) that help keep the body both stable and efficient in mass and movement.
[tensile integrity]
During a Bowen treatment, mucles, tendons, and ligaments are lightly “strummed” by the practitioner in a sequence of movements.  These movements effectively tell the brain to balance opposing structures in the body.  This is extremely important– if the body is out of alignment, imbalanced, there is no longer perfect form or perfect function.  The result is first pain, and if left unchecked a distortion pattern gets locked in the body leading to dysfunction and deterioration.
It often happens that new clients come in at their wits end, about to allow invasive procedures because they cannot take the pain any longer and/or they cannot perform whatever activity they desire. Many times within a few sessions, balance, “tensegrity” is restored, function returns, and pain is eliminated.  I see the look of bewilderment in my clients faces.  They marvel at the fact that they didn’t have to go through more pain or undergo any invasive procedure to correct the problem.
This is why I am a Bowen Therapist.  Bowen Therapy is an amazing not yet clearly understood science.  But it works. I help people feel better everyday- and that is a really good feeling.
Yoga On!
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Pet Therapy- A Client’s Testimonial

For this blog, I’ve decided to let one of my clients speak to Bowen Therapy for dogs:

My golden retriever, Sundance, turned 9 in April. I noticed he was slowing down on our walks and I attributed it to his age. Soon I realized climbing stairs was challenging, almost impossible, and our home is elevated. Our veterinarian added a steroid and pain killer to his regimen but that made him sleep all day. We visited Penny Michaels and I brought his condition to her attention for advice. She diagnosed the problems which were related to tendons and ligaments in his hind legs. He was walking with his right hind foot turned out. Penny performed Bowen Therapy that day. His sleep was restless that night however, the next day he walked with feet straight, no limping. Over the next week I saw improvement to the point my golden is now getting up to greet me in the morning like his usual self; he is climbing to the second floor to sleep in my room at night, which he has not done in six months. He is happy and most important, he takes no medications. I witnessed the relaxing of these tendons immediately. I can testify how much better the quality of life my pet is experiencing. I am very impressed with Bowen Therapy and Penny’s skills. We aren’t finished and will be back for a few more treatments. I am confident he will be walking with pep for quite a while. Thanks Aunt Penny!!

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Our Beloved Pets

Our Beloved pets sometimes have issues too. And they often cannot tell us what is wrong.

Many times the animal’s condition can be helped with Bowen Therapy without any drugs or traumatizing stimulation to the animal.  Bowen Therapy is a wonderful tool for correcting imbalances or dysfunctions in animals.  Musculoskeletal problems are often easily remedied with Bowen Treatment.  Even emotional distress can be alleviated and digestive issues corrected.  By the end of the session, the animal is relaxed and feeling better.

Bowen Therapy on your companion animals is a very gentle and relaxing therapy for you dog or cat.  Most times during treatment the animal is so relaxed it naps for a bit.  For animals that get regular treatment, they come running when they see me coming!

Bowen Therapy is not something that needs to be an ongoing thing for most pets- I do enough treatments to correct the dysfunction, recommend an occassional “tune up” and that’s it.  Often if the dysfunction is acute (meaning a recent occurrence) the condition is corrected in about 3 sessions or less!  Chronic issues take more time.

Animals LOVE Bowen Therapy!

Housecalls are available as are office visits.  Simply call 772-643-5199 to set up an appt. Your pet will love you for it!

*I always recommend conversing with your vet regarding your pet’s condition.