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a Bowen move being conducted on hamstrings

How does it work?

The muscles, which hold our bodies in the correct alignment, can sometimes be compromised by overuse, habitual bad posture, injury, dehydration, physical injury or emotional stress. The muscle tension created can irritate or damage nerve endings, which often results in symptoms of pain or discomfort.

The Bowen moves are made at very precise points over muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. The move generates a nerve signal which is processed by the brain. The brain may respond by sending key message signals back through the body with instructions on how to reset its emotional and physical tension patterns. Hence the body would autonomicly try to correct its misalignment and return it to a position of natural health. Just like you do not have to concentrate on to heal a wound, or mend broken bones, all the adjustments would happen without conscious control as fast as the body allows it.

As the tension releases, the muscles relax around the nerves reducing the experience of pain and improving blood flow to the affected area. This in turn increases the supply of nutrition and excretion of toxins from the area. As the muscles relax, they also loosen their grip around other internal structures e.g. stomach, liver, heart, lymphatic vessels etc allowing these to work under the best possible conditions.


The autonomic nervous system governs 80% of bodily functions. It has two branches: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic.

The sympathetic branch governs our survival instincts and protects against perceived danger, which is characterized by tensing of muscles, secretion of adrenaline, raised blood pressure, heightened pulse and breathing rates. This is our fight, flight or freeze response. Digestion, tissue repair, and finer chemical balancing are suppressed while the sympathetic branch is active.

The parasympathetic branch stimulates our rest, relaxation and repair response and provides you with general feelings of well-being.

The trouble with modern society is that our senses can become overwhelmed with a barrage of information. Various forms of external provocation, such as noise, crowds, pollution, electronic media as well as the full array of psychological and emotional stresses, enter our personal and professional lives and keep our sympathetic nervous system in a high state of alert. It is difficult to heal if the sympathetic branch is too active.

The Bowen technique may catalyze a shift between the two branches of the nervous system, enabling the parasympathetic branch to become more dominant and consequently promote healing in the body.

©Therapeutic Bowen 2009
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