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Bowen Therapy: the evidence that proves what we already knew

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Bowen Therapy in the Treatment of Myofascial Neck Pain — a Randomized, Single-Blinded Clinical Trial (RCT)

It has been more than half a century since Tom Bowen's passing, yet his legacy continues to quietly thrive across the globe. Hong Kong stands as the only country with Bowen therapists fully integrated into its hospital system. Led by Lisa Black and Col Murray, and Irene Lim (who trained under Lisa and Col), the International School of Bowen Therapy (ISBT) has been training over 500 occupational therapists and physiotherapists who have made significant strides within the Hong Kong General hospitals since 2013.

Their recent groundbreaking single-blind Randomised Clinical Trial on Myofascial Neck Pain (MNP) has firmly established the efficacy of Bowen Therapy. This research, combined with previous studies, highlights its potential as a viable treatment option for various issues beyond neck pain. MNP can significantly disrupt daily life, affecting sleep and mental health.

The study enrolled ninety participants who had endured MNP symptoms for an agonizing period of 5-6 years. After a rigorous screening process, the chosen individuals were divided into two groups of 45. The Bowen Therapy group received eight treatments over a span of 12 weeks, while the control group continued their usual routines of physiotherapy, chiropractic therapy, acupuncture, or self-management and received a neck care education pamphlet.

The study's conclusion revealed that ISBT Bowen Therapy effectively treats chronic myofascial neck pain, providing pain relief, improving functionality, and enhancing overall quality of life. The positive outcomes persisted even at the three-month post-treatment follow-up (24 weeks from commencement of the trial). With reduced pain, patients can regain their physical and mental well-being, resetting their occupational participation.

The success of this model of care is expected to be promoted not only within pain clinics in Hong Kong but also internationally. The study was carried out by dedicated individuals from the Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care and the Department of Occupational Therapy at the Prince of Wales Hospital, overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID era.

Bowen Therapy, a specialised hands-on approach, applies gentle and sustained pressure to myofascial connective tissue restrictions, facilitating improved motion and reduced pain. In the UK, there are several training institutes for Bowen Therapy, such as The Bowen College UK, College of Bowen Studies, and Bowtech UK. Over 8,000 individuals in the UK have undergone BT training since 1993, acknowledging its highly effective nature.

This groundbreaking research challenges skeptics by providing empirical evidence of Bowen Therapy's effectiveness. In the Pulborough area of West Sussex, there are multiple clinics offering Bowen Therapy, including my own. Additionally, practitioners like Emma Stafford in Horsham and Ping Ping Therapy in Storrington and Billingshurst contribute to the local availability of this treatment. Equine Bowen Therapy options are also present in the region, considering the involvement of the horse jumping and racing community.

If you're curious to learn more about Bowen Therapy, feel free to reach out. Starting in April 2024, I'll be teaching a short introductory course that enables you to bring the power of Bowen Therapy to your home and assist your family. While it won't make you a certified Bowen Therapist, it may inspire you to embark on the exciting journey of Bowen Therapy.

Lastly, when seeking a Bowen Therapist, I recommend checking their credentials, ensuring they are registered, possess full training certificates, insurance, and actively participate in continued professional development.

For those interested, the published research article and additional case studies are available at the following links:

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