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How Bowen Works

There are several theories about how the Bowen Technique works.

One of these suggests that the “Bowen moves” stimulate proprioceptors and sensory fibers of the peripheral nervous system. This encourages the body to rebalance and return to its natural state of health. Proprioceptors ensure the perception of the body’s position and movement and are found in connective tissue, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia.

A certain type of receptor, particularly important for the efficiency of Bowen treatment, is the nociceptor. Nociceptors are affected or have the potential to affect tissues. This term is misleading because the pain nociceptors are located in almost all tissues, especially numerous in the fascia, a connective tissue membrane that envelops muscles, tissues, and organs. They are present in every muscle group, individual muscles, and microscopically, allowing movement in muscles and all the body’s joints.

The nociceptor plays a very important role, being particularly sensitive to aggressive stimuli, which are sometimes called pain receptors. However, pain is interpreted at a higher, cerebral level. The fascia surrounds all body tissues, creating a space between and individual fibers, up to an optimal and healthy level of fluid circulation throughout the body.

When an injury occurs in the body, like a fracture in a toe, nociceptors transmit a reflex response at a speed of 70-120 meters/second, along afferent fibers to the thalamus, and this information is then processed by the cortex and further transmitted back through different fibers to the injured site to begin the healing process, starting the inflammatory process in the area.

If the pain persists for a long period, it causes dysfunctions or restrictions even after the bone has healed, and the fascia remains contracted to protect the movement area of the surrounding tissues. Even if we limp, the fascia restricts movement and continues to maintain its shape.

With each Bowen move, the fascia is engaged and “disturbed” for a short time but is not forcibly displaced. When fascia adhesions are diminished and scar tissue becomes softer and contracts, the fascia reduces its contraction. Musculoskeletal structures become able to increase their range of motion and use their full strength potential, and in addition, nerves, blood vessels, and lymph nodes situated in these relaxed tissues function optimally.

By stretching collagen fibers and altering the connective tissue form, achieved by Bowen moves of low intensity, nociceptors in the fascia and connective tissue are stimulated to send a non-aggression impulse through the central nervous system to the cortex. Recognizing this information, the cortex initiates the healing process for this reparative phase. A message is transmitted through afferent fibers for the removal of inflammation and the relaxation of muscle fibers and connective tissue.

Contraction Reflex:

Most movements are performed at the origin, insertion, or body of the muscles, where the Golgi cell receptors are located, informing the nervous system about the state of tension, elongation, or contraction of the musculo-tendinous tissue. These receptors are stimulated during the “challenge” and “rolling” movements of the Bowen technique. In the case of a pain-muscle-spasm circuit, we can interrupt this vicious circle by changing the stimuli received by the nervous system.

Proprioceptors of the Joints:

All movements performed around a joint directly affect the joint, capsule, and ligaments, which are strongly innervated with proprioceptors. In this case, too, the stimuli will be received by the nervous system, inviting the normalization of joint function without the need for forceful manipulation.





Each Bowen move is performed at the superficial level of the fascia and affects the relationship between the fascia and the nerves, muscles, or tendons being mobilized. Fascia plays an important role in muscle coordination, postural alignment, and structural and functional integrity. After a trauma, all of these are negatively affected, as the fascia becomes rigid, contracted, twisted, and dehydrated, as demonstrated by the work of Ida Rolf and many other osteopaths. As a direct result of a Bowen session, the adherence often loosens, the affected tissue softens, and posture and mobility improve without forced mobilization or stretching.

Rebalancing the Autonomic Nervous System:

It appears that the Bowen Technique has the most important and profound effect in this area, where the body’s self-healing mechanism is governed. The ANS controls over 80% of the body’s functions and is very susceptible to external stress factors. Most people today live in a constant state of stress and sympathetic hyperstimulation of the ANS. Healing occurs when the ANS shifts from sympathetic dominance to parasympathetic dominance. The Bowen Technique acts as a catalyst for this change; during sessions, patients often fall asleep or enter a state of deep relaxation, with strong peristalsis often audible. This indicates a shift towards parasympathetic dominance, with a deep reduction in stress. This may explain why, after just a few Bowen sessions, the healing process frequently reactivates when recovery from trauma, illness, or surgery has stagnated or plateaued.

Trigger Points:

Many Bowen moves overlap or coincide with the location of Trigger Points. By eliminating these Trigger Points, pain sensation is removed, and joint mobility and muscle coordination are improve




Acupuncture Points and Meridians:

Most moves overlap acupuncture points, and some even cross two or three meridians at once. Acupuncture practitioners have correlated the indications and effects of Bowen moves with corresponding acupuncture points. They have also commented on the immediate change in the acupuncture pulse in response to movements and procedures. The overlap of these two systems could explain the extremely powerful energetic component of the technique and its effect on internal organs.

Cellular Memory:

Scientists have demonstrated that some specific Bowen moves trigger the recovery of the body’s cellular memory by accessing the “original pattern” and reinstalling the parameters of a previous state of well-being and balance.