Effects of the Bowen Technique on Flexibility Levels
Michelle Marr, MSc BSc (Hons) PgCertEd MCSP Chartered Physiotherapist and External Lecturer for Coventry University. Nicky Lambon, MA MCSP SRP DipTP, Principal Lecturer and Programme Manager at Coventry University. Julian Baker, Director of The European College of Bowen Studies, 6 The Bridge, Frome, Somerset, BA11 1AR
Hamstring strains are the most common sport-related injury in the lower limb, with high recurrence rates and lengthy recovery periods. Causal links between lack of flexibility and development of muscle strain injury are frequently reported. The financial implication of treating such injuries provides a continual drive to deliver more effective, evidence-based treatment. Since 1994, a complementary therapy called ‘The Bowen Technique’ has been used to treat inflexibility and many other conditions. The technique provides gentle rolling moves over fascial interfaces without heating, stretching or specific joint mobilisation. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of the Bowen technique, on the hamstring flexibility of healthy subjects, over time.
A single-blinded, longitudinal, RCT was performed on 116 male and female volunteers. Participants were randomly allocated into a control group or Bowen intervention group. Three hamstring flexibility measurements were taken from each subject over one week, using an active knee extension test and an electrogoniometer. An independent assessor verified the results.
Data were analysed using independent t-tests. Significant increases in hamstring flexibility were demonstrated in the Bowen group immediately post-test (p<0.0005). These increases maintained for one week (p<0.0005) without further treatment.
A single treatment of the Bowen technique significantly increases the flexibility of the hamstring muscles in healthy subjects and maintains this increase for a period of one week in the absence of tissue heating, stretching, or specific joint mobilisation. Previous quantitative research has reported sustained flexibility increases for a maximum of twenty-four hours. This study has provided new information relating to the subject of flexibility. The superficial and gentle nature of the Bowen Technique invalidates explanations of tissue creep yet provides implications for plasticity following proprioceptive stimulation along the thoracolumbar and lumbopelvic myofascial slings. Further research is required into such proprioceptive mechanisms in relation to manual therapy techniques.
This paper was accepted for publication in the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies with the title “The Effects Of The Bowen Technique On Hamstring Flexibility Over Time: A Randomised Controlled Trial”. Publication date: July 2011
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