Bowen Therapy: A Different (And Gentler) Approach To Healing
When Lorna contacted me a month or so ago, I was neck deep in piles of work, desperately trying to shovel them off before heading off for GCAM. By the time I finally found some time to lock in a session with her, it was already late July. I completed my 3rd session of therapy a couple of weeks ago and I wish I had heard of the Bowen Therapy modality back in January! Before I share my experience, here’s a little information about what Bowen Therapy, taken from My Bowen Therapy (Lorna’s practice) website:
“…the technique involves gentle rolling moves on very precise muscles, tendons and ligaments in a very specific order, relevant to the symptoms you are suffering from. The Bowen Technique is a non-intrusive, natural complementary hands-on therapy, suitable for all from newborn to the elderly.”
“These moves have the ability to relieve pain, restriction and imbalances within the body, utilizing the body’s own healing mechanisms to rectify issues. The body has the ability to heal much more than we have all been conditioned to believe.”
Having tried various methods in alleviating my plantar fasciitis issues to little effect, I’d nothing to lose in going another direction – a gentler approach at that. With the appointment set, Lorna and her team, well, basically Scott her husband, sent me a pre-treatment questionnaire such that they’re able to know my background as well as the nature of my affliction.
When I arrived at the cosy little clinic, I was a little apprehensive as it was my first sports-related treatment but Lorna’s enthusiasm and confidence quickly put me at ease. Her exuberance and passions shone was palpable. After running through my responses to the questionnaire, she assured me that this was something she could fix, or at least set me off on the path to healing.
As that was my first visit, she took some time to explain the principles of Bowen Therapy, how the body’s nerves, ligaments, tendons, fascia interact and influence how we move and feel. For example, a tightness in the shoulders could potentially affect something else downstream, like your lower back or pelvis. I’ve always been fascinated with anatomy and her explanation along with graphical aid made things clearer.
Then we got down with the treatment proper where the fully-clothed “patient” would either be on your front or back. Having read it up a little, I was already changed in my loose-fitting running apparel. As mentioned above, the issues encountered by people usually originate from other areas of the body. After evaluating the positioning and range of motion of my body, Lorna started with my upper before moving down to the lower back. Now, to the uninitiated like myself then, the first experience was a little underwhelming. After explaining what she’d be doing and how I could be feeling (ranging from tingling sensation to warmness, to involuntary twitching), Lorna pluck at certain fascia in a certain order with several intervals in between. She would leave the treatment room to go to the next one to attend to the other “patient” before coming back. These leaving and returning to the treatment room wasn’t because she was multi-tasking (well, she could’ve been) but it was to allow the body time to accept, process and respond to the stimulus – a signature of the Bowen modality to get the body to start healing itself. All the procedure were done in a precise manner and extremely gentle. Lorna explained that it’s counter-productive to further impose on tissues that are already stressed or hurt.
I didn’t feel any tingling or twitching but I did have a mild headache when the shoulders and trapezoids were treated. The astonishing thing was that at the end of the 25-minute session, my toes were no longer pointed outwards but straight up. This was on top of the overall relaxed feeling that overcame me. Unlike a typical massage session, this was achieved in a painless and gentle manner. Before leaving, Lorna gave me a simple stretching routine to be done every morning.
The persistent PF pain appeared to ease up in intensity and frequency following the session but I returned to running only 2 days after, which was a short 4K. I started off at an easy pace, consciously trying to detect any difference in my running. As the run progressed, the expected pain and discomfort didn’t surface and the most apparent difference was the freer movements of the hips – higher knee lifts, stronger push offs, back-kicks. I felt that my form was better and I just felt stronger. By the time I hit the final K, I was already at sub-5 minute pace. Data collected by the footpod also showed an increase in stride length, so it wasn’t only a perceived improvement but data-backed. I felt like a different runner! Sure, my fitness level was short but I was running pain-free throughout and couldn’t wait for the second session which was set 5 days after the first one.
The second treatment covered even more parts of the body. Lorna started with the back, shoulders before moving down to release the tight quads, hams, glutes, psoas, pelvis, thorax areas, and the feet. Again, these were all done with just a little pressure, almost like the plucking of guitar strings. She also rubbed some magnesium oil on the plantar as she worked the area. I was in a state of extreme relaxation and after the session, could only managed a slow 5K at the Kiara Park! There were dull aches here and there, so I didn’t want to push things. Indeed, Lorna said I should just keep things very easy, but it was OK for me to race Men’s Health 5K (which I completed in 2nd place – race report) 2 days after.
By the time I got home, the lower back got progressively tighter and sore (which was expected, as the body readjusted to its natural state. Lorna also said the release phenomenon will occur over the next couple of days. I had absolutely no trouble sleeping that night and the restful state continued to the next morning. The body will regain its full energy as it progressively corrects itself.
The third and final visit was 7 days after the second one and it was more or less a repeat of the second, at least for me. But it really depends on how the “patient” feels like, which may necessitate a more specific approach. I came out feeling just as relaxed.
So here comes the final analysis. I believe the Bowen approach worked well for me. In fact, I wished I’d heard about it in January. I’m very happy with the outcome just from three sessions. While there are still some discomfort now and then, they’re no longer as persistent nor bad as before. The change in my running form is the most tangible after years of attempted reform. There’s greater range of motion from the pelvis and my stride length has seen an increase as well. When I run, I feel stronger, like a new runner. As a result, I’ve been enjoying my short weekday miles much more. Granted, my fitness is short but with these few weeks set aside for low mileage and there being no training plans, I’m just keeping things on maintenance mode. I’m curious to see how I do when longer runs are re-introduced into the regime when 2017 plans are clearer.
Due to its subtle, gentle and non-invasive nature, Bowen Therapy can be the first consideration for those with chronic pain or injuries. In all my visits, Lorna was always candid enough to share her knowledge and experience. If it was something she couldn’t help, she wouldn’t. The number of treatments per case are usually three, which means you won’t be committing to something too long a term nor too expensive.
Sessions are strictly through appointments so, do contact them first at:
Disclaimer: While I know my tibia from my fibula, I’m not medically trained, thus this post does not constitute medical advice of any kind. Every person is an experiment of one and thus results may vary.