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.
My 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.
With 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.