© Anatomy Trains
© Anatomy Trains
THE SHORT ANSWER:
Our muscles and connective tissue (tendons, ligaments and fascia) contain specialized cells that communicate with our central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). They send information about the length of our muscles and the tone or tension in the tendons, ligaments and joints. The gentle hands-on Bowenwork procedures use these mechanisms to normalize tension levels and create balance in the length of the muscles. The procedures are a gentle stretch, roll and release of the soft tissue. The result is a reduction or elimination of pain as well an increase in the range of motion around the joints and a return to normal function.
Due to the way in which Bowenwork is processed by your body, it is recommended that you do not have any other type of bodywork, such as massage or chiropractic, while receiving Bowenwork. One week after your course of treatment is complete is fine.
THE LONG ANSWER:
The Autonomic Nervous System is responsible for allowing the body to adapt to changes in its environment. It adjusts or modifies functions in response to stress; it acts through a balance of its two components, the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the fight or flight response; and the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for putting the body into a relaxed state where it is able to heal itself, and rest or sleep. For an analogy, you can think of the sympathetic division as the accelerator and the parasympathetic division as the brake and they work in harmony together to achieve homeostasis or balance.
Many of the core moves of Bowenwork are done over the nerve centers (ganglia) of the Autonomic Nervous System. Through the proprioceptive pathways Bowenwork can reduce the force of the sympathetic nervous system; this allows the clients to experience a profoundly deep sense of relaxation. Through this function Bowenwork not only facilitates healing, but can achieve the optimal function of internal visceral organs and tissues as well.
Proprioception is the sensory means by which the brain perceives the body’s orientation in space. It predicts the movement of limbs and the body without using vision. This is facilitated by the special nerve endings in our tissues called proprioceptors. When they are stimulated, relay information is sent through the spinal cord to the brain and back.
When a Bowenwork “move” is done, proprioceptors located in the skin, fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints are stimulated to relay neurological signals and reflex impulses via the peripheral nervous system (limbs and organs) to the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain). These signals are registered in the brain which then relays the signals that affect the stretch-length regulation (contraction and relaxation) of muscle fibers in the area where the “move” was applied as well as the adjacent tissues.
Specific proprioceptive pathways affected by Bowenwork include activation of mechanoreceptors (Meissner and Pacinian corpuscles), spindle cells, golgi tendon organs, spinal reflex arcs and stretch reflexes. Some Bowenwork “moves” are done in conjunction with bending the joints, which creates further signals through compression of Ruffini endings (mechanoreceptors) which relay the alternations in pressure and alignment of the joints to the brain.
Many of the Bowenwork “moves” are done either at the origin, insertion or belly of the muscle where spindle cells and golgi tendon organs are located, therefore the spinal reflex mechanisms are stimulated. This results in an alteration of the resting length of muscle tissue not only at the point the “move” was made, but also within the muscles of the corresponding dermatome and spinal reflex arc pathways. This explains how you get so much from such a gentle input.
When there is chronic pain or repetitive use injuries, the body can accommodate abnormal states of tension and begin to perceive them as a normal adaptation. Bowenwork subtly overrides this via proprioceptive stimulation and addresses dysfunctional motor and recruitment patterns in muscles and tendons.