Bowen Therapy versus Massage ?

When many people hear about Bowen Therapy for the first time, they often try to understand what it’s like in comparison to other therapies.  In this article, I’ll explain a little about the similarities and differences between Bowen Therapy versus massage.  This can help to understand which may be more suitable to your circumstance.

What happens in a massage?

There is a large variety of massage types – deep tissue, remedial, relaxing, etc – so the information here will be quite general in nature. 

Massage involves repeatedly rubbing or kneading to certain muscles to encourage those muscles to relax. The massage therapist’s hands are usually constantly on the body throughout the session. The moves tend to be along the muscle fibres, and repeated until the muscle relaxes.  

Relaxing massages are more general in their treatment of the body – they feel good, but often of little use in addressing injuries.  Remedial and similar massages target specific muscles, and can be useful in addressing pain or injury.  

How Bowen Therapy differs to massage

In many respects, Bowen Therapy could be considered the opposite of massage.

Movements in a Bowen treatment are quite different to massage.  Fingers or thumbs push into the edge of the muscle or ligament, before making a cross-fibre rolling move.  While some moves can be quite firm or feel tender, most are on the gentle side.

Bowen has hands on the body to only do moves or assessments, then the body is given a hands-off pause to allow the body to adjust itself.  The move or assessment may be repeated to confirm that the muscle has indeed softened.

The therapy can be done effectively both directly on skin, as well as through loose, lightweight clothing.  Bowen Therapy also doesn’t use oils.

Which is best for me?

The end goal of both Bowen Therapy and massage are usually similar – the body feels relaxed, muscles softer and in less pain.  

A good, experienced massage therapist should give lasting relief.  Many massage therapists will likely only massage the site of pain (especially if they’re told where is sore).  Some people experience only temporary relief if the source of pain is not addressed.

At Simply Bowen Therapy, I treat in an assessment-led way.  My assessments determine where restrictions are in the body to target work in those locations, rather than treating areas of the body that hurt.  It may seem odd to release a neck or jaw for a client with lower back pain, or work on balancing the pelvis for neck restrictions or shoulder pain, but often the source of tension is not where pain is felt.

If you’ve tried massage but found the pain has returned quickly, then it’s time to try Bowen Therapy.