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What is Bowen
and How Does It Work?
A Brief Anatomical and Physiological
Explanation for the Medical Profession
The Australian developed Bowen Therapy or Bowen Technique can be
used to treat a range of acute problems such as sport and work
related injuries. As an example, Bowen Therapy will provide
immediate relief and mobility to a sprained ankle.
If used holistically, Bowen therapy will allow the body to repair
itself from a wide range of chronic, long term health conditions and
can be used improve the performance and well-being of people.
In both cases these results are obtained by allowing individual
muscles to relax or return to their uncontracted length.
This is achieved by using one, or both, of the two Bowen techniques.
One Bowen technique is used on tendons and the other Bowen technique
is used on muscles.
The aim of the Bowen technique for tendons is to activate the Golgi
tendon organ (a type of proprioceptor) which will trigger the tendon
to automatically relax. This technique will vary depending on the
length and location of the tendon.
The second type of Bowen technique is carried out on the muscle
(usually on the belly of the muscle) where the vein and lymphatic
vessels connect to the muscle.
The aim of this Bowen technique is to gentle push the blood and
lymph fluid along their respective vessels, away from the muscle.
This process is similar to squeezing toothpaste out of a toothpaste
This is achieved by gently using the fingers to slide the skin over
the underlying muscle. An important part of this Bowen Technique is
to move the blood and lymph fluid gently enough to avoid stimulating
the nervous system.
If this Bowen technique is performed correctly, the first
physiological effect is the lymphatic system will flush any excess
or trapped neurotransmitters from the synaptic cleft. The immediate
effect of this is the muscle stops trying to contract.
The effect of moving blood along the vein, away from the muscle, is
that due to pressure differential, blood will exit the muscle to
replace the blood moved along the vein.
This in turn allows space for fresh blood to enter the muscle from
As muscles need energy to relax, the fresh blood entering the muscle
will supply energy to the myosin heads allowing them to release,
which allows the muscle to relax or return to the muscle’s
The improved blood flow will also supply additional nutrients and
oxygen to speed the repair of any injury to the muscle.
To use Bowen Therapy as a holist treatment requires relaxing
selected muscles to improve the posture of the patient. This follows
the belief that “the structure of the skeleton affects the function
of the organs”.
One example is if a person has bad posture and is physically bent
and twisted, the internal organs (liver, kidneys, spleen etc) are
all being squeezed and squashed out of shape. While this may not be
fatal, the organs will not work as effectively as they are meant to.
As the Bowen treatment improves the patient’s posture, the internal
organs return to their correct shape and location. The following
improvement in organ function is one of the reasons Bowen Therapy
achieves the quick results it does on a wide range of health issues.
The last piece of the Bowen puzzle, and possibly the most important,
is the effect Bowen Therapy has on the Autonomic Nervous System.
If a gentle Bowen Therapy relaxation treatment is carried out, brain
mapping shows the patient’s brain will produce Alpha waves and the
patient will feel like they are in a deep meditation.
When this occurs, the Sympathetic Nervous System stops overriding
the Para-sympathetic Nervous System and the body goes into automatic
repair mode. The Para-sympathetic Nervous System is often referred
to as the “resting and digesting” division of the Autonomic Nervous
To achieve a similar state, Australian hospitals now put severe
trauma patients into a drug induced coma for several days, purely to
accelerate the body’s repair work.
Because of the affect Bowen Therapy has on improving posture,
improving the blood and lymphatic flow, the improvement in organ
function and the way it allows the body to go into automatic repair
mode, Bowen Therapy has a legitimate claim to being the most holist
form of health care ever invented.
This thesis was researched and written by Robert M. McCusker to
improve the effectiveness and understanding of Bowen Therapy as a
way to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the death of
Robert has been trained by Bowtech, Smart Bowen and the
International School of Bowen Therapy.
He also has the experience of over 15,000 Bowen Therapy treatments
and Honours in Anatomy and Physiology.
Robert M. McCusker
Balmain Bowen Centre
99A Victoria Rd
© Robert M. McCusker 2007
Robert McCusker has been trained by Bowtech, Smart Bowen and the
International School of Bowen Therapy. He also has the experience of
over 15,000 Bowen Therapy treatments and Honours in Anatomy and
Phone: (02) 9555 2117