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  • Writer's pictureDr. Romi Fung, ND

Is Pain Stopping You From Living Your Life Optimally?

A common complaint I get from patients in practice is chronic pain: Low back pain, sciatic pain, knee pain, neck and shoulder pain. And by the time they get to me, they have likely tried the whole range of extensive bodywork and practices including Massage Therapy, Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Cupping, Tuina Chinese Massage, Shiatsu, Physiotherapy, etc. I do admit each one is very effective, especially when the actual cause of the pain is indicated for that therapy. I will essentially refer patients to them as I see fit. However, there is one modality that I've come to love utilizing in my practice.

I practice a type of bodywork called 'Bowen Therapy.'

Now you're probably going to ask what that is, and why you've never heard of it. Bowen Therapy utilizes gentle rolling-type moves on top of muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves where we challenge the muscle, and slowly roll on the exhale of the patient. These moves activate nerve bundles below the muscle and soft tissue of the body, and are done over clothes.

A typical Bowen Therapy session involves the practitioner performing a unique set of moves on precise points on the body in a specific order with careful pauses in between. Pauses last for approximately 2 minutes which gives the body time to integrate that message, prompting to reset, repair and balance itself. When the pause is longer, it has been found that the effects are better. It is a minimalistic, efficient and gentle procedure.

How does Bowen work? Here's where my research has gotten, with the works of Dr. Robert Schleip.

Bowen Therapy works by stimulating the superficial fascia underlying the subcutaneous fat tissue. Through the works of Dr. Schleip, we know that the fascia is more than structure; There are four mechanoreceptors that underlie the fascia. The one most involved in this technique are the Ruffini receptors.

Ruffini receptors, in short, respond to mechanical tangential pressure. What this means is that these receptors are activated with pressure that is perpendicular to the tissue, ie. against the tissue and not along the tissue. By stimulating these receptors, they exhibit changes to the nervous system as well as induce muscle relaxation. Sustained pressure produces parasympathetic (The 'rest and digest' response, as opposed to the sympathetic ,or 'fight or flight' response) reflex responses such as increased vagal activity which causes a decrease in heart rate, decreased EMG activity and synchronous cortical EEG patterns.

Ruffini receptors also activates the anterior lobe of the hypothalamus. This induces a more quiet emotional activity, an increase in synchronous cortical activity and softening of the muscles. In other words, pressure to these areas causes a person to be much more relaxed! And not just relaxed, but there's also relation to the receptors to the neuroendocrine system. Many of the sensory neurons of the enteric brain are mechanoreceptors, when activated trigger neuroendocrine changes such as production of serotonin (the feel good hormone) and regulate histamine (in inflammation).

In addition to the fascia, Bowen Therapy helps restore the holding patterns associated with proprioceptors in our muscles. Proprioceptors are receptors that allow us to know where our body is in space; without them, you wouldn't feel where your arm is while raised, or balance yourself as you bend to the side. The proprioception affects the central nervous system to release patterns in our muscles that were compensated from past injuries, postures and movements.

So ultimately, what does this whole description mean in plain English? We work with the muscles in a way that sends a signal to the brain that responds by relaxing the body and giving the body the environment it needs to work on itself, and stimulate the body's own innate healing abilities.

Pain does not have to be a constant pattern for life - you just need the right signals to inform and signal the body that these are not the patterns that were once before. Bowen Therapy re-teaches the body its normal, healthy patterns.

"Bowen Therapy helps erase bad memories and reset the brain, giving it a subtle stimulus that then has a domino effect on many systems via the autonomic nervous system (ANS)." - Sanja Tamburic, ND

I find Bowen Therapy to be effective and gentle. This is really good for patients with Fibromyalgia. It is normal for someone going through a treatment with me to feel sleepy, and even fall asleep! Though not just pain alone, people presenting with the following conditions typically respond well to Bowen Therapy:

Structural imbalances: Low back pain, tennis elbow, shoulder pain, sciatica

Sports injuries, plantar faciitis, achilles tendon strains

Chronic fatigue, ear infections, TMJ issues, allergies, bedwetting, Multiple Sclerosis, Kidney and Urinary Tract issues

Stress management, anxiety and depression

Promotes wellbeing

Migraines and headaches


Are you experiencing pain that has really taken a lot away from you? Don't know if Bowen Therapy will help? Contact me and let's schedule a Meet and Greet and we'll talk about your concerns.

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