According to Hansen and Taylor-Piliae (2011), Bowen Massage Therapy is a non-invasive technique using specific series of gentle hand movements directly on the skin to stimulate nerve pathways.
The movement is intended to gently stretch the skin, muscle, and fascia in the affected area. This stretch stimulates nerve pathways and attempts to stimulate healing pathways through realignment of microfibers within the nervous system.
An essential component of the Bowen technique involves 2-5 minute pauses between sets of moves. These breaks allow for increased lymph and blood flow in the area, enhancing tissue repair (Hansen & Taylor-Piliae, 2011).
How does it work?
The main intended target of the Bowen technique is the nervous system.
The autonomic nervous system, along with stretch and tension receptors in muscle, are affected by hand movements. Conscious awareness of this sensory stimulated may activate certain neural regions that could affect neural outputs in the specific area contributing to the presenting problem.
It is postulated that reduction of stimulated pain receptors could account for decreased pain and improved mobility post-treatment (Hansen & Taylor-Piliae, 2011).
For more clarity on how this looks, you can watch the video below of one of our painPRO Registered Massage Therapists performing this technique on a patient.
Research has found favourable outcomes in regards to pain, migraines, joint mobility, and tissue flexibility.
More research is certainly needed to understand and improve effects of the Bowen massage therapy technique. What is known is that the Bowen technique is a “cost-effective, non-invasive treatment modality”that is applicable to acute and chronic pain sufferers (Hansen & Taylor-Piliae, 2011).
Will It Hurt?
To put it briefly: No.
The Bowen technique utilizes specific sets of movements that are unlikely to provoke any pain.
Individuals with severe pain issues may experience some discomfort, but will likely find the Bowen technique as one of few manual therapies that can be tolerated. Individuals, who have found other manual therapies too painful or have a very high level of sensitivity, are strongly recommended to try this technique.
Hansen, C., & Taylor-Piliae, R. E. (2011). What is Bowenwork®? A Systematic Review. Journal Of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 17(11), 1001-1006. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0023