A Bowen Treatment - What to Expect
Stay well hydrated in the days prior to a Bowen treatment, as this will ensure the 'message' and vibrations of the moves will travel efficiently through the muscles, fascia and tendons.
Please wear light clothing to your Bowen appointment to allow for sufficient range of motion as may be required, and also for comfort.
It's preferable to receive a Bowen treatment 5-7 days after other body work, such as massage, chiropractic, physiotherapy or acupuncture. This will allow the Bowen moves an opportunity to be completely integrated, so that none of the other treatments will interfere with the processing*.
During the Treatment
Treatments are performed on a massage table, however Bowen treatments can also be performed seated. The practitioner will cover you with a sheet or blanket, which allows your nervous system to be contained and focused on the moves.
The practitioner will perform several sets of moves with pauses of 2 minutes or longer in between. These pauses are necessary so the body can acknowledge the moves and in some cases, pauses of 15 or 20 minutes are needed. During these pauses, the practitioner will preferably leave the room, or alternatively, stay as far away from you as possible. This improves the ability of your autonomic nervous system (ANS) to interpret the sensory information and send it back to the muscles.
You may feel a deep state of relaxation or even fall asleep. You are left to relax in a comfortable, warm atmosphere. It is a quiet time, with little talking, except if you wish to provide feedback to the practitioner about any sensations you may be experiencing.
After the treatment, it is not uncommon to feel a bit lightheaded or even dizzy. Your practitioner will guide you or ask you to lie down on your side for a few minutes and breathe deeply.
Following the Treatment
The practitioner will ask you to drink lots of water in the days following your Bowen treatment, walk and move as much as possible (at least take a few steps every hour in the first 2 days right after the treatment) and refrain from other manipulative bodywork* for another 4-5 days.
Frequency and Results
People often find lasting pain relief within 3-6 sessions and return for maintenance treatments monthly or quarterly. Sometimes people also experience a worsening of their symptoms, which is a sign that the body is processing and healing. Such symptoms will usually disappear within a few days.
Bowen treatments are generally scheduled 5-10 days apart (most often weekly) to allow the body and nervous system to fully integrate the moves from each treatment.
* Integration with other treatment programs
The Bowen technique is referred to as a complementary modality, which means it will enhance and complement, rather than interfere with other medical attention. However manipulation, deep tissue massage, acupuncture or the use of electro-therapy immediately following a Bowen session can undermine its effectiveness.
This is due to the fact that following a Bowen session, the body most often continues to go through changes for the next 2 to 5 days, from self adjustments to a noticeable release of toxins. This self healing process can be short circuited by applying other modalities too soon.
The ideal situation, when possible, is to experience the technique for 3 (weekly) sessions, without any other modality in between. This is usually sufficient time to know if you are going to benefit from it.