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Bowen Therapy

Bowen therapy is a soft tissue therapy that uses a gentle rolling massage to alleviate a wide range of conditions.

An Introduction to Bowen therapy

It works by stimulating the soft connective tissues and fascia of the body. Research into the importance of fascia in the body is relatively new, and its main function is for keeping the muscle integrity in your skeletal system. Over time our muscles can become strained and unbalanced from repetitive movements. Particularly from bad posture habits building up over time. Bowen therapy addresses these tensions with a light massage technique where the therapist uses their fingers and thumbs to apply gentle pressure to the targeted areas.


How it works

Therapists will work on small patches of the body one at a time. The typical Bowen movements consist of three phases:

  • Taking the skin of the affected area slack
  • Challenging the soft tissue
  • Rolling the skin over the muscle

The pressure applied is generally quite light, which makes it safe for all ages and bodies. The theory is that the massage technique prompts the body to start its own healing process, rather than from the direct action of the therapy.

A unique part of the therapy is that there are breaks during the session, in which the therapist will wait a few minutes before performing the next movement. This is to allow the patient to relax and give the body time to react to the movements just performed. This begins the repairing phase of the treatment.

Benefits of Bowen Therapy

How can Bowen therapy benefit you?

The main reason why people choose Bowen therapy is to help manage pain or for a particular musculoskeletal condition. Often people try the treatment if they have a chronic condition that has not responded well to common treatments.

Some of the other reasons people may choose to see a Bowen Therapist include:

  • To improve flexibility, posture and mobility
  • To improve coordination
  • To improve mental wellbeing
  • To manage stress
  • To increase energy and vitality
  • To find relaxation

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Further reading / Bowen Therapy studies

Like with many complementary and alternative therapies, the volume of clinical investigations into the effectiveness of Bowen therapy is limited, however new research into the therapy is emerging.



A systematic review of Bowen therapy trials found over half concluded it was effective for pain reduction and 33% reported improved mobility. The consensus is it may offer improvements in pain reduction for various conditions but further research is needed before widespread recommendations can be given. Specifically, Bowen Therapy has been shown to be effective at reducing low back pain.


Frozen Shoulder

A study using the Bowen technique to treat people with a loss of shoulder range was found to have varying degrees of effectiveness in recovery. Even people with a long-standing frozen shoulder experienced improvements in their shoulder mobility and associated function.


Physical and Mental Wellbeing

A six-week study of hospital staff found Bowen therapy helped to reduce stress and improve physical and mental wellbeing. Data indicated that the Bowen technique was successful in reducing pain and stress, reducing muscle tension, improving mobility, and improving overall energy, wellbeing and sleep.



The results of the Bowen Technique National Migraine Research Program found initial results that Bowen therapy can be considered as a holistic option for managing headaches and migraines when triggered by a combination of factors such as hormonal, sleeping patterns, neck and jaw tightness, exercise, travel, lack of food, allergies and stress levels of the individual.



A pilot study of Bowen therapy for boys with developmental coordination disorder (DCD), also known as dyspraxia found to have a positive physical impact. Results showed significant improvement in motor function post-intervention. With 60% of the children no longer clinically being classified as having a movement difficulty.


Motor Function

A 2011 pilot study found that 13 sessions of Bowen therapy increased motor function in participants with chronic stroke. The results suggest that exploration through further research is appropriate.

Choosing the right Bowen therapist for you

You may want to consider a Bowen therapist who specialises in a particular area (i.e. sports injuries or pregnancies) if you have something you want to focus on. Whilst there are no laws regulating Bowen therapists, the Bowen Therapy Professional Association (BTPA) has a list of registered UK therapists on its website.


Who is Bowen therapy suitable for?

Because the Bowen technique is a gentle therapy, it is suitable for newborn babies with colic or feeding difficulties right through to elderly arthritis sufferers. Midwives even work with Bowen therapists during labour if a baby is in the breech position and needs to be turned.

Bowen therapy is also suitable for people with injuries. Especially sports injuries where repetitive movements cause micro-tears in the muscle fibres. Anyone going through trauma can also benefit, as the therapy works on balancing the body’s autonomic nervous system – taking the body out of your fight or flight response, into a calmer rest and digest state.

What to expect in your first Bowen therapy session

What to expect in your first Bowen therapy session

A typical Bowen therapy session can last from 30 minutes to an hour. In the initial consultation, your therapist will discuss your problems and piece together your health background.

In the session, you will typically lie on a massage table or can sit on a chair if required. You will typically wear light clothing during the treatment. Depending on your focus area, your therapist will either work directly on the skin or through your clothing.

During the session, it is not uncommon for your therapist to leave the room for a few moments after applying a particular Bowen technique. This is to allow your body to adjust to changes before they move onto the next technique.

Some people have reported only needing one session. However, you will typically have a few follow up sessions depending on the severity of your condition.

A Bowen therapy session is considered relaxing and helps to relieve stress. Because of this, it can be maintained as a regular treatment for overall good health and wellbeing.

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Medical concerns

Holistic disciplines can assist you in your wellbeing, though they are not a substitute for medical care. This information should be used as a guide only to help you explore which holistic disciplines may assist you. We recommend researching the discipline and speaking with a practitioner before choosing to book any service.

This information is not, nor is it intended to be used as a medical diagnosis. Any information provided must be considered as guidance only, and not a substitute for obtaining a diagnosis from a medical professional. Please see the full terms and conditions of use. Always consult your doctor for any medical concerns.