Tag Archives: bowen therapy

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

 

 

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!

 

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!

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”.

Image result for image fascia system

(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

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!