Treating Tension Headaches and Neck Pain with The Bowen Technique.

We have written a couple of posts about the Bowen Technique on ‘let’s talk! and they have always proved really popular. It is gentle, making it attractive to those who prefer a treatment that is less invasive. It can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, but here our expert Bowen therapist, Kate Weeks, looks at how it can provide relief to those who experience tension headaches or chronic neck pain. 

Bowen1My approach to treating clients who suffer with neck pain and tension headaches follows the general ethos of Bowen – to always look at the bigger picture. It isn’t enough to purely focus on the neck. It also isn’t enough to just try and ‘relax’. Muscle has memory at a cellular level, and postural habits die hard! Bowen is brilliant at ‘showing’ the muscles how to relax and resetting the way the muscle and fascia behaves.

Headaches have a variety of causes and symptoms. Tension headaches are common, and tend to be caused by muscle contractions in the neck and head, which in turn causes constriction of the blood vessels and can compromise nerve function. Clients often describe the headache as starting in the neck and working it’s way over the top of the head.

Working with tension headaches, I generally find the problems start at the lumbar thoracic junction, just about where the ribs end. Although it is impossible to separate all of the muscle and fascia connections in the body, some of the muscles that run up into the neck and the back of the head start here. The typical Western ‘head forward’ posture puts a great strain on these muscles, particularly when working at a computer or driving, as the added concentration and stress causes the person to hold themselves in a position of significant tension. The head is very heavy and the muscles act as an anchor to stop the person falling forward. For a successful outcome it is important to work with all of the muscle groups and fascia that influence the neck and head carriage and to help the client become aware of the postural habits that are creating the problem in the first place.

bowenWith neck pain, a similar situation applies. It is important to look at the bigger picture and notice head carriage, pelvic alignment and whether the tmj (jaw) is functioning well. I have noticed that muscles in the front of the neck are often overlooked when treating neck pain. Some clients, diagnosed with arthritis or similar neck conditions, become pain free after treatment. It isn’t that the arthritis has been cured, but that most likely the pain experienced was due to the muscle and fascial tension.

Bowen is a gentle technique, and does not involve manipulation. Three sessions are often enough and for some conditions, a maintenance programme is recommended.

Kate offers treatment here at The Terrace. Contact us on post@the-terrace or on 01823 338968 . To find out more about Kate, and Bowen see www.the-terrace.co.uk or www.kateweeksbowen.com

 

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Sciatica: Bowen technique & why time is of the essence.

sciaticIn a past post we discussed the Bowen technique, which is a gentle, non-invasive remedial therapy that offers effective treatment for a wide range of ailments.

Recently, our Bowen practitioner Kate Weeks heard from a client that she treated for sciatica in the early months of this year. Sciatica is caused by an impingement of the sciatic nerve, usually because there is pressure from a herniated disc at the origin of the nerve in the lower back. The sciatic nerve travels from the lower back, through the back of the leg where it splits into two behind the knee, travelling down either side of the calf. Pain can be felt anywhere along the nerve, and where pain is felt usually indicates where the nerve is compromised in the lower back.

Without getting too technical, we wanted to illustrate how important it is to look at the body in a holistic way when treating pain. Kate’s client presented with a pain in the lower leg, rather than in the back and had been diagnosed by his GP and prescribed heavy duty pain killers. Kate says:

“When presented with a case of sciatica, or in fact any muscular skeletal pain, I always ask the question ‘why?’. Why is the lower back compromised? Where are the tensional pulls coming from – is it the hamstrings pulling the pelvis or a jaw or neck problem that is holding the head out of alignment and therefore forcing the body to compensate elsewhere? Is a shoulder problem creating a twist through the torso? How much stress is the client experiencing at the moment?”

Bowen examines this picture of the body as a whole and mild cases can resolve relatively quickly as tension leaves the body and joints re-align., but in more serious cases it can take some time for the inflammation in the nerve to go down: Kate again:

” I have found that although after an initial set of 3-4 treatments, the client will still be experiencing nerve pain, about a month after the treatments the client reports a reduction in pain that continues until they are pain free or at a point where medication can be stopped and they can begin to exercise. I am not against steroid injections or surgery as they have worked very well for some, and in some cases the damage to the nerve or problem in the lower back is so severe that this is the only course of action available. However, this approach doesn’t tend to establish the ‘why?’.

Kate’s client was initially cynical about using a complementary therapy but was relieved to find that Kate was keen to work alongside the treatment recommended by his GP.

“I considered a number of alternative treatments but was persuaded to give the Bowen Method a trial. I attended 4 sessions with Kate over about 6 weeks which immediately eased associated tension and stress in my back and neck which had slowly developed over the past 4 months. Kate had a complete understanding of the physiological problem and we talked through a treatment programme.

About 2 weeks after my last session the pain in my leg eased and now 2 months on I am pain free with only mild aches and some pins and needles.”

So do consider Bowen when you can’t find relief from the pain of sciatica via your GP or hospital. Obviously we would love you to come and see Kate at The Terrace, but wherever you are as you read this, do look up your local practitioner and find out more.

‘let’s talk!’ about: The Bowen Technique

what-bowen-helps

Problems Bowen has been shown to help

Recently we have been asking our readers, and followers on Facebook and twitter, which therapies they would like to know more about. At The Terrace we offer psychotherapy and complimentary therapy, but within those areas there are many different approaches to emotional and physical well-being. It can be confusing – and in past posts we have looked at homeopathy and mindfulness.  But today we thought you may like to know a little more about The Bowen Technique.

Bowen  is a gentle, non-invasive remedial therapy that offers effective treatment for a wide range of ailments. Australian Tom Bowen developed this system of body work more than forty years ago and it is now recognised by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council and available on many private healthcare policies.

For the past twenty years Bowen has been practised in the UK and offers an effective and straightforward treatment to bring balance and correct function to the whole body. During the treatment, a series of gentle, rolling moves are made over the muscle at key points of the body using fingers and thumbs. Each set of moves is followed by a rest period of roughly two minutes to allow your body to respond with maximum effect. There is no adjustment or deep tissue manipulation and it is not a form of massage. For this reason it is suitable for all age groups including the very young and the very old. Treatment can be performed directly on the skin or through light clothing.

Bowen is a holistic treatment, and the whole person is treated, not just the problem area. It is often the case that chronic back pain originates from tight hamstrings, or that a shoulder problem has started in the neck for example. Getting to the root cause of the problem can lead to improvements in conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), hay fever, hormonal imbalances, high blood pressure, depression, sleep disorders, constipation, headaches and many more.

Kate Weeks practises at The Terrace and has recently found some great survey data from The European College of Bowen Studies (ECBS) that supports her view, and ours, that Bowen can offer gentle relief to many – even those who have exhausted all other forms of treatment.

1130 people were asked the following 3 questions.

1. Would you have a Bowen Technique treatment again?
2. Would you recommend the Bowen Technique to family/friends?
3. Overall has the Bowen Technique been of benefit to you?

97% would recommend the Bowen Technique to others and
97% said they benefitted from having Bowen therapy.

A recent article in Saga magazine offers more evidence and personal experience that highlights how mysterious our body is and how Bowen can work with it to benefit our physical health. It may be gentle, you may hardly notice the work the therapist is doing. But it offers an alternative to more traditional and potentially invasive therapies, so why not find out more?

Kate Weeks Bowen TechniqueKate Weeks
Cert. ECBS MFHT MBTPA
01823 338968 07721 462096
www.kateweeksbowen.com