A couple of weeks ago, the Marrickville Police and Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) asked if I’d return to support their kids sport program – their annual 3 on 3 basketball competition. Of course I said I would – last year’s event was a lot of fun !
Last year, all players of one team came to see me for a quick treatment before playing. Tight hamstrings, aching lower back, not feeling able to move easily. We only had time for a 10 minute treatment before they had to play. In the lunch break, they ran over to me with smiles and thanks – they were feeling great. And, they went on to win the competition.
Could they have won without Bowen before playing ? Possibly, they were all good players. But a schedule of 8-10 fast-paced games through the day was going to take a toll…
Did Bowen help them to move more freely ? And recover faster between games ?
Did their Bowen treatment give them an edge in performance over other, equally talented teams ?
A split second in sport
Being “the best” at a sport is multi-faceted. Having skills is key. Fitness and strength another. Mental toughness and belief. Commitment and practice.
As time has progressed, more and more athletes are reaching the limits to what a body can do. A split-second can now decide a winner from second (or an even lower) place. That split-second for professional athletes can have a massive impact on sporting careers.
This has led sports people to look to other areas that can help give an edge over competitors. Lightweight clothing, specialised shoes, aerodynamic helmets, compression clothing are all commonplace.
Unfortunately, looking for that “split second” has taken some sports people into unethical or illegal methods.
Looking for a natural edge
Sports people have been looking to other forms of therapy to find a (legal and natural) “edge”.
In last year’s olympics, many of the swimmers were sporting round “bruises” on their back. Those marks were caused by cupping. Michael Phelps was most notably seen with the marks, as well as other swimmers and athletes believing that it keeps them healthy and enhances performance. Said to stimulate flow of energy in the body and enhance recovery, cupping pulls blood to a certain area. It is believed to improve circulation and loosen up muscles and joints, and is suggested to have anti-inflammatory effects.
At the time of the olympics, there was much debate related to scientific research to substantiate the results, versus anecdotal use of the therapy over the past hundreds of years.
Regardless of this, how athletes feel they perform as a result of treatment is enough to have more and more athletes looking to alternative or complementary methods to gain an edge over others. At least one research paper has even stated that athletes tend to be among heaviest users of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), in their efforts to enhance performance.
But cupping is simply one such CAM therapy that was widely talked about last year, where we can visibly see that athletes use it. Other traditional and alternative therapies such as massage, acupuncture, Bowen Therapy, kinesiology, magnet therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, cryotherapy, ??? don’t leave the giveaway visible marks.
I think that when athletes find an alternative therapy that really delivers results, it’s kept secret ! not letting others in on their secret weapon…
I wonder how many use Bowen Therapy and don’t tell others ?
The body is a fine-tuned machine
Think about Formula 1 racing. Teams of mechanics work to ensure the car is working in top shape, and perfectly in balance. Any imbalance will slow that car down ever so slightly.
Any slight imbalance, a slight loss of performance, can be the difference between winning and losing. A skilled driver in an unbalanced car is unlikely to win the race.
Similarly, a skilled athlete in an unbalanced body will be unable to perform at their best. Imbalances in the body will slow it down, prevent it from going over that hurdle, make it unable to turn and react quickly, unable to play that shot as hard as possible… and can contribute to injury.
Legs with tight hamstrings won’t run as fast as legs that move freely. Shoulders that don’t move easily will make swimming strokes harder or give a less powerful tennis serve. A pelvis that’s uneven will make moving more difficult.
Bowen Therapy for sport performance
What if there was a therapy to improve stamina, stimulate recovery AND balance the body ? thus enhancing sport performance ?
What if I said that Bowen Therapy can do this.
Balance and symmetry
Bowen Therapy helps the body move into balance and symmetry. Balancing the body through gentle moves, with some focus on specific muscle areas of problem, helps bring the body back to the state it should be. And if the body has symmetry, then all muscles can work smoothly and evenly – much like a formula 1 car.
One client that comes to mind is a keen amateur golfer. A back injury had him try Bowen Therapy. As his body came back into balance (from quite uneven and twisted), I encouraged him to also have a golf pro look at his swing, to ensure his technique wouldn’t result in re-injury. He was all smiles following a body that now moved due to Bowen, and a little work on technique. His swing was smoother and better, he was hitting the ball longer, and his game was better than ever !
Personally, I love my regular Bowen and ensure that I have treatments in the lead up to longer hikes. With 15kg (or more !) on my back and hiking up/down steep hills, I want to be pain-free to enjoy the hike ! Being in balance helps prevent strains and overuse injuries on trail. Injuries in wilderness areas can put the whole hiking group at risk, and the last thing I’d want is needing to be airlifted out !
Increasing numbers of runners and triathletes are using Bowen Therapy in their training and preparation for races. GB triathlete Victoria Gill says that Bowen Therapy helped “the quality of my training is better, with the same number of hours and level of training”
Ready for competition
With the body taking a few days to fully integrate the bowen moves, treatment 2-3 days before competition is the ideal timing to give an athlete best results.
While treatment a few days prior to competition is ideal, treatment at any time is better than none. My basket ballers at last year’s PCYC 3-on-3 showed that even a very short, focussed treatment just before competition can be enough to make a difference. A quick balance of the pelvis or relaxing of tight hamstrings had them moving on the court far more easily.
Recovery from sport doesn’t need to involve the “no pain no gain” of freezing ice baths or painful massage.
Bowen Therapy in the days after a big competition can help the body relax again, taking it down from the fight/flight adrenaline rush of competition. At the same time, dealing with any niggles that arise, prompting the body to begin to rebalance.
Bear Grylls may be one of the more extreme examples of needing recovery after “sport”. He sees Bowen Therapy as an essential part of both his preparation and recovery. “Bowen has helped keep my body together despite the continual bashing it takes,” he explains. “It’s a vital support in putting right a whole range of new aches and pains, making sure that old injuries don’t cause me problems, and helping me fight stress and fatigue.”
Whether a professional athlete, looking for an edge over other competitors… an amateur, trying to improve their last Saturday ParkRun time or perform better in their favourite sport… or just someone wanting to minimise risk of injury while enjoying sport… Bowen Therapy can enhance your sports performance !