Celebratory and media articles
Now magazine reports: 05/11/13


"The Bowen technique, a gentle healing massage that involves subtle 'rolling' moves, was used by Elle Macpherson during her pregnancy and is an effective painkiller. Contact Isobel Knight at bowenworks.org for London based appointments or visit bowen-technique.co.uk for therapists nationwide."


Little People UK Conference 2014

The Bowen Association was recently invited to attend the Little People UK Conference. Delegates were all the families who had been affected by dwarfism or various medical conditions which resulted in small individuals. For both children and adults it was a very happy day lots of interesting speakers, children’s activities, and comedian Tim Vine. A day with plenty of chatter, laughter and appreciation for the fund-raising carried out during the year to support those families in need.

The actor and presenter Warwick Davies is a patron of the organisation, and he took an interest in the Bowen Association stand. Delegates viewed a short video presentation on the Bowen Technique and searched for practitioners in their areas on the website, which was open on the laptop throughout the day. People came from all over the globe - Scotland to Sussex, Australia to Ireland – to raise awareness and funds to help these families and individuals.

Angela Cannon

Web: www.littlepeopleuk.org

The Bowen Technique

Rachel Carlyle / 17 September 2013

It’s not often that you hear a complementary therapist admit that most patients get halfway through their first appointment and wonder if they’ve wasted their money. But that’s exactly how many feel during a session of Bowen Technique, a light manipulation of muscles and soft tissue that feels almost pointlessly gentle.

‘People say, “Er, is that it?” Or I can see they’re thinking, “What an idiot! I am never coming back”,’ says Julian Baker, who brought the therapy to the UK from Australia in the Nineties. There are now a thousand practitioners in Britain, and it has a diverse fan base, including celebrities such as Elle Macpherson, footballer Dwight Yorke and even the Chancellor’s wife Frances Osborne.

Most patients come to Bowen with a musculo-skeletal problem: typically backache, frozen shoulder or sports injuries. A first treatment might be 20-30 minutes: the practitioner will lightly ‘roll’ their finger or thumb over muscles and the surrounding connective tissues at specific points, many in the back and neck. The pressure is no more than you could apply to the eyeball. After four to six moves, the therapist will leave the room for a few minutes and the client closes their eyes and relaxes. Then the therapist returns for the next moves.

‘Those breaks are fundamental: you are starting a dialogue between the brain and the body’s systems so the body can heal itself,’ says Baker. ‘I tell clients, in between not doing much, I am going to do even less, I’m afraid.’

Bowen therapists work on the fascia, the connective tissue that wraps around muscles, which they believe can become twisted and cause pain – often somewhere else as the body compensates for the original injury.

But how can such a small movement make any difference? ‘You can say the same for a pin and a balloon,’ Baker explains. ‘The more tension you build in to a structure, the less pressure you need to apply to change it. If I stood in front of someone wearing a shirt and twisted the left-hand corner of it, you would see the material stretching – that’s where the tension is, and it would feel uncomfortable. All I need to do to release the tension is unwind that twisting. The body is not a pile of bones stacked on top of bones: it’s a series of tensions.’

Baker, Britain’s leading authority on the technique and the author of Bowen Unravelled (Lotus Publishing, £16.99), admits he isn’t sure exactly how it works. Even its Australian inventor, Tom Bowen, wasn’t sure. He was a labourer who left school at 14 and was self-taught. By the Sixties he was treating 13,000 patients a year with his homespun technique, though he never wrote down his methods or explained any philosophy behind them. It was only named after his death in 1982.

But several pieces of research in the past ten years have shown that it does work – although as with most complementary therapies that lack pharmaceutical-industry-style funding, most are small studies and not ‘gold standard’ trials. In one on patients with frozen shoulder, half were given three sessions of Bowen and the other half ‘fake’ Bowen. The Bowen patients had a 23-degree improvement in movement, compared with 8 degrees for the fake treatment. Other studies have shown good results for knee and ankle pain (19% reported full recovery; 69% a partial recovery), hamstring injuries, migraine (79.5% reported a positive result) and asthma (83% had fewer attacks and 75% used less medication afterwards). Therapists also report success with infant colic, bedwetting, hay fever and arthritis. If results aren’t seen within two or three sessions, clients are advised to stop.

Some GPs now refer patients to Bowen technicians (it costs £35-£45 per session). ‘I tend to be sceptical of such things, but after trying everything for my own sciatica, Bowen was the only treatment that worked,’ says recently retired Warwickshire GP Dr Claire Pickin, who went on to train in Bowen. ‘I began suggesting it to patients with musculo-skeletal pain and those for whom I had nothing else to offer from mainstream medicine. It more often helped than didn’t. What I think happens is that it sends the body into a deep state of resting so the muscle tension is spontaneously released.

‘Bowen is simple, gentle and without side effects. So often GPs dismiss older people in pain, saying they have to expect that with age. But Bowen was a great lesson to me – you can help the healing power of the body so people can lead a normal life again.’

More information

The two main Bowen organisations in Britain are the European College of Bowen Studies, where Julian Baker teaches (www.thebowentechnique.com) and The Bowen Association (www.bowen-technique.co.uk).

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.


© Saga 2016                                     
Following on from this Professional Beauty Magazine in their October issue report on research showing long term benefits in back pain treatment with Bowen.

Bowen Technique shown to have long-term benefits

20 December 2012

A study into the effect of the Bowen Technique has found that the therapy can have long-term benefits for those with chronic, non-specific low back pain (CNSLBP).

49% of the population reports lower back pain. CNSLBP is so called because in most cases, the pain does not stem from serious damage or disease, instead the issues are rooted in sprains, muscle strains, minor injuries or a pinched, irritated nerve.

The Bowen Technique focuses on soft tissue areas. Therapists use their hands to move over muscle, ligaments, tendons and fascias across the body. No hard-tissue manipulation or force is used, and the body is allowed to rest between movements.The philosophy behind the technique focuses on triggering the body's own healing systems rather than forcing the body to change.

37 participants with a mean age of 44.5 years took part in the blind study. 19 were allocated to the Bowen group and 18 to the control 'Sham Bowen' group.Each received three weekly treatments and was asked to complete a series of questionnaires, one before the treatments, one after each session, and a final one four weeks later.24 categories were created, covering pain and functioning, psychosocial and somatic changes, and general health.

Across all categories, participants in the Bowen group showed healthy improvement in four categories after the first follow-up session, compared to 11 in the control group. However, after four weeks, the Bowen group reported improvements in 21 categories, compared to 12 in the control group. The biggest changes came in the pain and functioning category. The results highlight that the Bowen Technique can see healthy improvement in CNSLBP following a four-week interval after treatment.

If you are looking for a registered Bowen Technique Practitioner, visit www.bowen-technique.co.uk

2013 Copyright © Trades Exhibitions Ltd

Link: www.professionalbeauty.co.uk/page.cfm/Action=library/libID=3/listID=25/libEntryID=687

Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls


The article below appeared in the Daily Mail in April 2007. It relates to Adventurer Bear Gryll's recovery and healing journey using the Bowen Technique.

Adventurer Bear Grylls' battle with back pain and high cholesterol

To the outside world, the adventurer Bear Grylls epitomises supreme fitness. The man who catapults himself into alien, life-threatening environments, surviving on his wits alone, practically bursts with good health - or so it seems to the viewer watching him on television from the comfort of the sofa. Yet despite appearances, Bear has been plagued with back pain for over ten years - for which he only recently found an effective treatment. More worryingly, he also suffers from high levels of cholesterol, caused by a genetic disease which killed his father and grandfather - and which poses as much of a danger to him as his Boys' Own exploits. Adventurer Bear Grylls may throw himself into some of the most uninhabitable places on earth but the super fit action man suffers from a genetic condition which means he suffers from very high cholesterol levels. Bear's father, former Tory MP Sir Michael Grylls, died suddenly of a heart attack at 66 in 2001; his grandfather also died prematurely of heart disease. But it was only six months ago that Bear had a cholesterol test. He was staggered to find that he had a reading of six-and-ahalf, which is very high for someone of his age and fitness. "I had been in the SAS Territorial Army and spent my life on physical challenges. Even when at home I exercised six days a week, alternating circuit training, running and yoga," says Bear, now 33. Without these high levels of activity his reading could have been even worse; his older sister, Lara, had an even higher reading of eight. Doctors recommend that cholesterol levels are under five and even lower for patients at particular risk of heart disease. Bear appears to suffer from a hereditary predisposition to dangerously high levels of cholesterol, which clogs the arteries and can lead to heart attacks and stroke. The condition - hypercholesterolaemia - affects seven people in 1,000. Men with the condition are at greater risk of heart attack: 80 per cent will have had their first heart attack by 60, but many will suffer one in their 40s or 50s. Although the condition is not caused by a bad diet, it can be improved by one low in fats. Despite the warning given by his father's and grandfather's heart attacks, Bear had enjoyed a diet rich in animal fats, especially meat and milk which he thought necessary to sustain his high-octane and physically strenuous existence. But soon after his cholesterol test, he came across The Rave Diet, written by American filmmaker Mike Anderson, who had seen members of his family die of cancer and heart disease. Based on fruit, vegetables and whole grains with as much raw food as possible and no animal fats or vegetable oils, it is a Spartan regime, but Bear has embraced it enthusiastically. "After I read this, the links between the heart disease which killed my father and grandfather, my high cholesterol and my fatty diet became startlingly clear. My mother fed my father butter and cream all day long. "It breaks my heart that my father never knew my children. He should have been around for another 25 years." Bear has learnt that the key to his survival may lie not in his awesome ability to live off hostile landscapes, but in adhering to the sort of lifestyle advice promoted in every GP's surgery. "I am planning to have my cholesterol tested again soon. But I think my new diet is the answer." Bear, his wife Shara and two sons (aged four and one) now eat neither meat nor fish, but get their protein from nuts, seeds, pulses and quinoa (a proteinrich grain which can be used like rice or as a porridge). They also drink oatmilk (made from oats mixed with water and other grains and beans; it is high in fibre, vitamin E, folic acid and phytochemicals, which fight cancer and heart disease). "We're not bonkers about it - if we go out, we eat what's available. And when I'm on an expedition I eat what I have to in order to stay alive. I've eaten sheep's eyes, the still hot meat from a zebra killed by a lion, and maggots which give you 70 calories to the ounce." As well as his risk of heart disease, Bear also suffers from chronic back problems.

Twelve years ago, aged 21, he broke his back when training with the SAS after his parachute failed to inflate at 16,000 feet. "I should have cut the main parachute and gone to the reserve but thought there was time to resolve the problem." He landed on his parachute pack, which was like an iron bar, and fractured three vertebrae. It was extraordinary that he was alive, let alone not paralysed - but incredibly the spinal cord, which channels messages between the brain and all parts of the body, had not been severed. Bear was treated at Headley Court, the defence forces' rehabilitation centre in Surrey. "The doctor said I was a miracle man. I had come so close to severing my spinal cord. Because of my age and my fitness, they decided I could avoid surgery." Instead, he underwent ten hours a day of physiotherapy, swimming, stretching and ultrasound treatment - a programme designed to help servicemen get back to active duty, but rarely available to civilians. The alternative - and one offered to most people in a similar situation, but without Bear's peak fitness - is surgery to fuse the broken vertebrae. 'I had nightmares for months. Still, I was lucky to walk away without surgery - but ever since, I have suffered twinges and pains." Deep massage helped, but he says he always felt physically 'unbalanced' by his injury.

Then a year ago his wife suggested he see a Bowen therapist. The Bowen technique, developed in the 1950s, involves using rolling movements over muscles, ligaments and tendons. This is said to send impulses to the brain to trigger the body's own healing system. Precisely how it works is a mystery, but many professional football clubs maintain a Bowen therapist as it has been shown to be very effective in realigning the skeletal structure. "I was sceptical, but wanted to keep an open mind," says Bear. He went to see East Sussex based Bowen therapist Sarah Yearsley. "With the slightest squiggle of her fingers, it felt like petrol was being put back in my tank and I could feel all the stress seeping away. More importantly, after my back accident, my spine and pelvis had lost alignment, so I felt unbalanced." Sarah explained that Bear's pelvis was slightly twisted - and that this would cause endless problems and backache. Most fans of Bear's Born Survivor series will not have noticed anything wrong, yet a subtle misalignment - visible only to the expert eye - can impact on total health For Bear, who is often jumping out of planes, having complete structural alignment is even more important than for the average person. Bear describes himself as now 'hooked' and has treatment every month. It has helped him prepare for his most perilous challenge yet. Next month he is attempting a powered paraglide over Everest's 29,035ft summit. "I am scared I could black out in the click of a finger." If this venture seems inconsistent with his desire to lead a healthy life, Bear has an announcement. "This is the last of my big expeditions or challenges. They're getting too dangerous. I'm not on the Ranulph Fiennes road of trying to beat the last expedition." Sir Ranulph has been an inspiration to Bear all his life. As a boy, Bear climbed the bell tower at Eton, where the baronet had also once been a pupil. "In the lead lining, I found the initials RF. I put BG next to his," he recalls. But while he is 'full of dreams and ambitions,' he also has a family and a long-suffering wife at home. In fact, relaxation is vital to Bear, who says, somewhat surprisingly: "I don't thrive on stress. I love lying on the deck on our houseboat reading a book. "I'm terrified of walking into a room full of people. Sitting down at a dinner table with 15 strangers brings me out in a sweat." Yet, he says, fear isn't the reason not to do something. "I'm scared of heights, yet I've just abseiled 770 feet off Canary Wharf for charity. "But the folly of youth is that you think you're immortal. Losing my father and having my children has brought me to my senses. I want to be around to love and guide my sons for a long time."

by MOIRA PETTY Last updated at 10:18 24 April 2007




Bill Tarmey                Click on Bills photo to read the full story


Actor Bill Tarmey, who plays the legendary Jack Duckworth in Coronation Street

has used Bowen therapy to successfully remove his aches and pains that were so

bad they were keeping him awake at night. "The difference is enormous really

enormous....try Bowen and like me you may get one heck of a surprise"

says Tarmey.

“Although sceptical about alternative medicine prior to receiving Bowen therapy, it has proved highly effective at relieving tension and improving post match recovery in my neck and back.”
Lee Smith, (professional Rugby League player, Leeds Rhinos)
Read Danny Spiessens story below
The Irish Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A holistic way to treat injury

A seriously ill man in a wheelchair is back on his feet, with help from the Bowen technique, writes ISABEL CONWAY In Antwerp

WHEN BREDA McQuaid first met Danny Spiessens he had paralysis from the chest down. He had neither bladder nor bowel control, had lost almost half his body weight in a matter of weeks and was skeletal thin. “He looked desperately unwell,” she says of the previously healthy successful Belgian businessman who owns a chain of hair salons around the Flemish city of Antwerp.

In the summer of 2009 Danny Spiessens and his wife Anniek were on a beach holiday in Tuscany when he developed flu-like symptoms. “I got that shivery feeling, I was aching and thought it was flu. But on the third night everything felt blocked and I was shutting down, I could no longer move my legs or feel any sensation in them, it was absolutely terrifying.”

Overnight Spiessens, now 49, was crippled with an acute form of transverse myelitis, an infection of the spinal cord. How he caught the infection is a mystery; he believes it could have been from swallowing infected water while swimming in a rock pool in Mexico earlier that year, or through eating contaminated shellfish on holiday, or from an old back injury.

He was taken to hospital in the Italian city of Pisa where he suffered septic shock – total body failure – several times. Critically ill in those early days, it was many weeks before he could be taken back to Belgium. Eventually he returned, to a rehabilitation centre in Antwerp where he was told he could expect to remain in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

“I was always so healthy and active, skiing, horse riding, doing sports. I felt my life was stolen away from me. But I am by nature a very positive person and I was determined to get better,” he recalls.

Just after his return Spiessens’s wife, a former intensive care nurse, told a regular client, while working in one of their hair salons, about her husband’s illness. Recently qualified as a Bowen technique practitioner, Breda McQuaid, from Moybridge in Co Monaghan, believed she might be able to help. She had already treated some family members including her 85-year-old father, her 80-year-old mother and friends for a variety of ailments with great success during her training.

Spiessens was to be one of her first real clients and to date his recovery is the most extraordinary she has encountered.

“I had never heard of the Bowen technique until Breda started treating me but I was willing to try anything to try to walk again,” says Spiessens. “But I could feel a difference from the moment she started treating me. Actually I was calling it Breda’s ‘hocus-pocus’ but each time she treated me I could feel the improvement. It was truly astonishing how my legs were strengthening and my general health was improving steadily.”

Breda McQuaid (46), a mother of four who has lived with her Irish husband in Belgium for the past 14 years, is a former general nurse and trained in London as an accident and emergency nurse practitioner.

She hadn’t heard of the Bowen technique until she suffered back pain following a car crash in Antwerp. She turned to it as a last resort after having physiotherapy for over a year, still needing to take strong pain killers. “I found a lady who did the Bowen technique. After that first session I was pain free for five days and following the third one the pain stayed away for nine months. I had a top-up session then and it has never come back.”

She felt the treatment was so remarkable that she resolved to train as a therapist herself at the Bowen Training College in the Netherlands.

When McQuaid started treating Danny Spiessens he was bedridden and weighed just 48kgs. He responded to the first treatment, experiencing sensation in his right leg, and by the fifth treatment in October 2009 he was walking with the aid of a walking frame, had gained weight and muscle and had regained bladder control. McQuaid continued to treat him every two weeks and by June 2010 Spiessens was able to drive a car again and was enjoying remarkably improved health.

He takes up the story: “Doctors in Italy and Belgium were so surprised, they believed I would probably be in a wheelchair always. One of them said it was a miracle. I know that the Bowen therapy helped to make me walk and be healthy again. But it was not the only factor, in my opinion.

“I doggedly persisted, making myself stand and then take those first steps, telling myself that if I could walk a step or two then I could build it up and walk a kilometre one day.

“I take loads of vitamins and instead of alcohol, though I am allowed the odd glass of wine, I swallow an awful lot of fish oil.” His daily swimming routine has also helped develop stamina and physical fitness. Now only using a walking stick on the street, as a psychological prop, his dream is to be able to put on his skis one day and take on the challenge of a gentle slope.

“I know, if I keep making this progress I can manage the ski turns. Not so long ago I felt my life was over, now I have it back again.”


The Bowen technique is a holistic approach to pain relief and injury recovery, claiming to tap into the body’s blueprint and reset the body to heal itself. The potential for recovery is stimulated by a series of gentle moves over muscles and tendons on specific areas of the body. Usually a patient needs no more than three or four sessions. The trained practitioner uses thumbs and index fingers making gentle rolling type moves across precise points on the body. These moves aim to disturb the muscles, connective tissue and subtle energies, sending a message to the brain, which responds by starting the repair process, creating balance and stimulating energy flow. Bowen therapy critics argue that studies backing its claims have only been carried out on small numbers of patients, and that there is a lack of scientifically-controlled research and published evidence.

See bowenireland.com