“This is the gospel of Rolfing: When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself.” — Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D
I just LOVE this quote. My bodywork practice is all about balancing the body in gravity and assessing and treating specifically to achieve that goal. The “gospel of Rolfing” should be the gospel of all bodywork interventions.
A lot of people ask me how to describe what Bowen to their friends and family. There really is no easy answer because Bowen is evolving as a therapy and my practice of Bowen, in particular, is based on my 20 years of bodywork experience and my trainings in Rolfing, Neuromuscular Therapy, Myofascial Release and Cranial Sacral Therapy. Hopefully this will help people understand and explain what I do!
In my practice, it all starts with an evaluation of your posture.
Here’s a little insight into the inner workings of my brain when I evaluate your posture!
Standing Assessment: Are your pelvis and shoulders level? Is one lower than the other? More rotated? Or tilted? Is the head tilted? Is the head leaning forward over the shoulders? Are the shoulders balanced over the pelvis? Are the knees forward or behind the line between the hip and the ankle? Are the kneecaps looking straight aheah or do the knees look bowed or “X” patterned. Do the ankles collapse? How well does the head turn? How is the shoulder’s range of motion?
Walking Assessment: I’m going to integrate this more in 2017! How is movement thru your body? Does the impact of the feet on the ground dissipate thru the spine and shoulders and arms? Or does it get stuck someplace? Do the feet hinge well when walking? Are the ankles supporting the structure? And very importantly… what do YOU feel when you walk? What hurts or feels stuck or stiff?
Table Assessment: Does one leg assess longer than the other? Is there balance in the sacrum and hips? Does bending the knees cause pain and stiffness in the low back? When the head turns, does the short leg become the long leg? Are the pelvic bones and pubic bones aligned? How’s range-of-motion of the hips?
TREATMENTS – BOWEN THERAPY AND INTEGRATIVE BODYWORK
With Bowen Therapy sessions, I treat two clients at a time, each in their own private room (except I usually treat new clients by themselves for at least the first half of the session unless two people come together). The nature of Bowen Therapy is to leave the client’s body to rest and relax periodically during the session as the nervous system balances the body.
Bowen Therapy is based on a unique rolling movement across muscles (called the “Bowen Move”) that works great at releasing and relaxing a muscle. Following what I’ve noted in Pre-Treatment assessment, I work to achieve symmetry in your body using Bowen Moves!
Bowen Treatment is a targeted approach based on four factors – Vertebral Subluxation, Dural Drag, Sustaining Muscle Spasms and the Therapeutic Pause
- Vertebral Subluxations are viewed as a dysfunctional spinal segment associated with disturbance of the nervous system but are not treated like a chiropractor would. There’s no cracking or popping adjustments here!
- Dural Drag is an irritation of the “dura mater”, the outer meningeal layer of the spinal cord which encases the Central Nervous System (CNS). When there is irritation of the dura, there will be increased tension in the muscles on one side of the body. This condition of one-sided abnormal tension may be described as a “dural drag” and is evidenced by the presence of a functional short leg.
- Sustaining Muscle Spasms are particular points of spasm or tension in a muscle that seem to actually cause and hold the spinal subluxation place. These are the areas that Bowen Moves address to balance the body.
- Therapeutic Pause is one of the key elements of Bowen Therapy, the therapist leaving the room to give the body time to re-set and relax after releasing the tight, sustaining muscle spasms. Hence why I can treat two clients at a time!
So as a Bowen Therapist, I assess to locate the sustaining muscle spasm, thru assessments, to find where these muscles are holding spinal subluxations in place, causing dural drag (or irritation of the spine), resulting in a functional asymmetry in the body. Once the subluxation leaves, the Central Nervous System is allowed to activate it’s innate regulating and healing mechanisms in order to restore optimal function and symmetry.
Integrative Bodywork session are one-on-one treatments. I use the same assessments and still use Bowen Moves to achieve symmetry. But I also have 20 years of other tools that I can incorporate into the sessions. I find deeper Rolfing-style myofascial release, massage and manual therapy techniques to be great addition to sessions… and it feels amazing.
More gentle, cranial-based assessments and treatments are also a big part of my work and can have amazing balancing effects. I don’t typically leave the room during Integrative Bodywork sessions, so you get 100% of my attention. And… if you really just want a good deep-tissue massage, I can do that too.
Are Integrative Bodywork sessions better than Bowen? No, not at all. The goal of treatment is the same, it just may include a different way of getting there. It’s really more based on your personal preference (and budget!).