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Bowen Studies & Research

There are a growing number of studies on the effectiveness of Bowen Therapy. Some of the study results and recent research is detailed below:

The results of a study with 24 volunteers performed between October 2002 and March 2004 were very positive, evidenced also by the fact that every volunteer reported that they would recommend the Bowen Technique to a fellow Asthma sufferer.

Bowen addresses the individual as an integrated biodynamic system as opposed to his or her isolated ailment. Asthma has a myriad of triggers ranging from emotional trauma, stress levels of the individual, exercise, food and environmental allergens. These factors are so varied, that a holistic therapy like Bowen should be considered as a valid option for the health of an Asthma sufferer.

Further details can be found at www.bowenasthmaresearch.co.uk.

A study into the effects of Bowen Therapy on Back Pain was conducted in June 2007. The outcome was on the whole very satisfying, not to mention revealing, with almost 90% of treatments given resulting in either a complete or partial recovery.

By triggering a re-balancing of the muscles around the lumbar and pelvic areas, Bowen Therapy may help to stabilise a weak area, reduce compression around the nerve roots or improve circulation to the spinal discs, muscles and joints.

Bowen therapy helps to reduce pain and also improve range of movement throughout the body.

Of the 351 volunteers, 124 (35.3%) reported a "Full Recovery", 191 (54.4%) reported a "Partial Recovery", whilst 32 (9.1%) reported "No Change". The course of treatment was not completed by 4 (1.1%) of the participants.

A pilot study to investigate the use of The Bowen Technique as a treatment for people who live with chronic, non-specific Lower Back Pain.

© Copyright Michael Morris (Contact: m.f.morris@warwick.ac.uk) - this article should not be reproduced without permission.

1st October 2012


Almost half the adult population of the UK (49%) report low back pain (LBP). Most cases of lower back pain are known as 'non-specific' because they are not caused by serious damage or disease, but by sprains, muscle strains, minor injuries or a pinched or irritated nerve. 

The Bowen Technique is a soft tissue remedial therapy, which involves the therapist using fingers or thumbs to move over muscle, ligament, tendon and fascia in various parts of the body.

The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility of conducting a trial into the effectiveness of the Bowen Technique as a treatment for the management of Chronic, non-specific low back pain (CNSLBP), using a Randomised Control Trial approach.

Thirty-seven participants, 21 female, with a mean age of 44.5 years took part in the study. Nineteen were allocated to the experimental, Bowen, group, and 18 to a control 'Sham Bowen' group. Participants were blinded to their group allocation. Each participant received three weekly treatments, and were asked to complete a questionnaire comprising six different measures before treatment, one week after their final treatment, and four weeks later.

Measuring pain and functioning levels, psychosocial/somatic changes and general health, 24 'categories' were created from the measures. The Bowen group recorded a positive change by the second follow up in 20 of these categories. By contrast the control group showed an improvement in twelve at the same time point.

Pain and functioning - the data takes in results from 12 categories. At the first follow-up, the Bowen group showed healthy changes in 3 categories, and the control group showing changes in 6 categories. By the second follow-up, the Bowen group showed healthy changes in eleven of the categories, compared to five categories in the control group.

Psychosocial/somatic changes - there were 9 categories. The Bowen group failed to register any healthy change after the first follow-up, compared to 3 in the control group. At the second follow up, the Bowen group showed a healthy change in eight, compared to five healthy changes in the control group.

General Health - 3 categories. The Bowen group showed a healthy change in 1 category by the first follow up, compared with 2 from the control group. The Bowen and control groups showed 2 healthy changes at the second follow up.

The data highlights that the Bowen treatment group changes occur mostly following a four-week interval after the treatment, potentially highlighting the longer term effects the Bowen treatment may be having on the body, and gives rise to the idea suggested by many in the profession that the body takes time to adjust to the treatment, and that following treatment, therapists should allow time for the body to 'rest' with no further treatment being applied for a period of time.

We should remember that this was a pilot study, and as the subject matter involved common and very prevalent symptoms, as such any study which would look to reach an 'effectiveness' score, would require a much larger sample size, and most importantly a much larger budget! For example, the UK BEAM study recruited from 181 general practices in Medical Research Council General Practice Research Framework; 63 community settings around 14 centres across the United Kingdom. In total, there were 1334 patients consulting their general practices about LBP!

However, it was felt that due to the commonality of the symptoms, and the prevalence seen within the clinics of Bowen therapists throughout the world, that this was a subject worth investigating further and would hopefully provide the catalyst for future research into Bowen.

In 2004 Catherine Vivian conducted a pilot study of the perceived effects of Bowen Therapy on children with Cerebral Palsy.

The study concluded that there were a number of perceived improvements. Improvements in co-ordination and flexibility had the largest number of changes. The changes to behaviour demonstrated that Bowen therapy affects more than isolated muscles and connective tissue.


Research Success into Treating Boys with Dyspraxia/DCD by Dr Melanie Morgan-Jones

Extract from Penny Post website.

Melanie Morgan-Jones runs a Bowen Therapy practice and children’s clinic in East Garston. Her study related specifically to an investigation into whether an improvement could be made to the neuromuscular function of children with Dyspraxia/Developmental coordination disorder (DCD). The study involved children from the counties of Berkshire, Wiltshire and Hampshire, specifically boys between the ages of 8-11. (N.B. 50% of children with Dyspraxia/DCD also have other conditions such as ASD, ADD, ADHD).

Over a 6 week period the children received a non-invasive therapy once a week and the data gathered showed statistically significant improvements in their balance, manual dexterity, aiming and catching, but also in the children’s general control of movement. Importantly, by the conclusion of the study, most of the children, were found to be no longer classified as having the motor coordination difficulties classification. This was according to an internationally recognised diagnostic tool called the MABC-2 (Motor Assessment Battery test-2 for children) which was used to test the children before and after the 6 weeks of Fascia Bowen therapy. Importantly, for these children, their quality of life in terms of performing everyday tasks, improved.

This was the first study of its kind using this particular therapy, namely Fascia Bowen therapy but it was also the first study to test the therapy with children diagnosed with Dyspraxia/DCD. Melanie conducted the research with ethical approval from the University of Bath and was granted her doctorate on April 21st 2015.

A randomised controlled trial, by Michelle Marr, Julian Baker, Nicky Lambon and Jo Perry. Published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, July 2011 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2010.07.008)

The hamstring muscles are regularly implicated in recurrent injuries, movement dysfunction and low back pain. Links between limited flexibility and development of neuromusculoskeletal symptoms are frequently reported. The Bowen Technique is used to treat many conditions including lack of flexibility. The study set out to investigate the effect of the Bowen Technique on hamstring flexibility over time.

An assessor-blind, prospective, randomised controlled trial was performed on 120 asymptomatic volunteers. Participants were randomly allocated into a control group or Bowen group. Three flexibility measurements occurred over one week, using an active knee extension test. The intervention group received a single Bowen treatment. A repeated measures univariate analysis of variance, across both groups for the three time periods, revealed significant within-subject and between-subject differences for the Bowen group. Continuing increases in flexibility levels were observed over one week. No significant change over time was noted for the control group.

A study into the effects of Bowen Technique on Knee Pain and Ankle Pain was conducted between June and August 2009, in which 110 clients received treatments.

The cause of ankle joint pain is often associated with an imbalance in the muscle tensions around the leg or foot. Bowen Therapy is thought to provide a trigger that the body uses to reset muscle spindle length, reducing the tightness within the muscles and tendons, and easing compression on surrounding tissues, such as blood vessels and nerves. Pain relief occurs as the body's natural healing mechanisms are stimulated.

People affected by knee pain or ankle pain were given the chance to try out a natural therapy that has shown remarkable success in treating all kinds of joint and muscle problems - the Bowen Technique. During Summer 2009, Bowen practitioners from across the UK took part in a national study. It was designed to provide testimonial evidence of how Bowen can help with knee pain and ankle pain, a common cause of lack of mobility and in some cases, time off work.


Participants had three treatments and gave a subjective score as to their change after receiving the course of treatment. In summary, 19% of clients were "Fully recovered", 69% of clients reported a "Partial recovery", leaving 12% reporting "No change".

The research was carried out over a six week period; each participant received three Bowen treatments. The participants had all been suffering Migraines for at least 10 years, some for over 30.

The results were very positive; of the 39 participants in the program 31 volunteers reported an improvement in their migraine symptoms.

Migraine can be triggered by a wide range of stimuli and the effects debilitating for sufferers. Bowen can provide fast and effective pain relief and in some cases permanent correction that can last up to two years.

Further details can be found at www.bowenmigraineresearch.co.uk.

A study into the effect of Bowen Therapy on shoulder or neck pain was conducted in the summer of 2008. 271 clients new to Bowen were treated and of these 86% showed a full or partial recovery after only 3 treatments.

Shoulder and neck pain can be particularly debilitating especially where there is restriction as in adhesive capsulitis or 'frozen shoulder'. It can also be linked to emotional problems and where the client is experiencing particularly stressful situations. Shoulder and neck pain can be linked to RSI and carpal tunnel problems which are symptoms that can respond well to Bowen Therapy.

Detailed analysis of the results from this study showed that 30% reported a full recovery, while a further 56% said that their symptoms had improved to some extent. Fewer than 10% reported that there had been no change. If the figures are adjusted by removing the incomplete/other modality treatments then there was a "Full recovery" in 31% of the clients, a "Partial recovery" in 60%, giving an overall improvement rate of 91%.

The study was designed to help consolidate the many anecdotal experiences of people who have reported to their therapists that Bowen Therapy has provided significant pain relief. More mature clients, or clients with chronic symptoms, are likely to experience even better results after a number of additional sessions.


BTPA is pleased to award contributions from its Development Fund to help support research and studies into the effectiveness of Bowen Therapy. If you are interested, further details on research funding can be obtained from studies@bowentherapy.org.uk. Grants are awarded on merit and determined on a case by case basis. Projects should aim to increase the awareness of Bowen Therapy and understanding of its impact. BTPA made a contribution to several of the studies listed above.

BTPA has developed a standardised data collection form within its range of members’ resources which can be used to gather uniform information, across the range of client treatments, suitable as the basis for research.