Neurostructural Integration Technique (Bowen)
There is a glossary of terms at the end of this composition.
Definitions offered are only listed as they apply to this article.
Neurostructural Integration Technique (NIT) is more commonly referred to as the Bowen Therapy Technique. It is a system of gentle to gently firm, precise and powerful soft tissue activations that assists the body structurally and energetically in restoring its self-healing mechanisms. This light-touch therapy was developed by Australian Thomas Ambrose Bowen in the 1960′s and 1970′s.
“Bowen” was created to help people suffering from muscular-skeletal problems, yet it has been very successful with many other conditions as well. It is painless, non invasive and safe to use on anyone from the newborn to the elderly and provides lasting relief from a wide variety of acute or chronic conditions.
The Neurostructural Integration Technique is not acupressure, chiropractic, osteopathic manipulative technique or massage. There are no manipulations, adjustments or force used.
Tonya Marie Tronco uses thumbs and fingers to gently move muscles and tissues applying only gentle non invasive pressure. A treatment consists of a series of specific sequences of moves called “procedures,” with frequent 1 – 2 minute pauses to allow time for the body to respond. These pauses and the gentleness of the treatment make NIT unique. It offers rapid, long-lasting relief from pain and discomfort. Some people feel shifts in their bodies during and after an NIT session. While many experience immediate pain relief, improvement is just as likely to unfold over the next few days to a week. Most conditions respond within 2 – 3 sessions.
How NIT Works: The Bowen Technique helps the body remember how to heal itself. Bowen “Moves” send neurological impulses to the brain resulting in immediate responses of muscle relaxation and pain reduction.
The Moves create energy surges. Electrical impulses sent to the nervous system communicate with both brain and body to re-gain normal movement in joints, muscles and tendons. This helps relieve muscle spasms and increase blood and lymph flow.
The Neurostructural Integration Technique affects the body primarily through the nervous and the bioenergetic systems, to bring it into a state of balance.
Bowen “Moves” are applied throughout the body in specific locations and prescribed sequences to affect specific body systems, i.e., digestion, lymph circulation, respiratory apparatus, et cetera, and body parts such as pelvis, TMJ, shoulder, knee and so on.
The practitioner must maintain a keen sense of the tension in the tissue. This will reveal exactly where stress has built up in the tissue and how much pressure to use, where and when to do a move to release that stress.
The autonomic nervous system controls over 80% of bodily functions (cardiac, respiratory, peripheral circulation, reproductive, endocrine, gastrointestinal) and is susceptible to stress and emotional tensions. For healing to happen, the body needs to shift from sympathetic (fight/flight mode) to parasympathetic (vegetative mode) dominance. For this it needs time and space to literally unwind and “digest” physical and emotional stress. NIT facilitates these positive shifts.
Stretch Reflex: Most Bowen moves are done either at the origin, insertion or belly of muscles, where the Golgi and Spindle nerve receptors are located. These receptors inform the nervous system of the state of tension, length or stretch in the muscles and tendons and are stimulated during the rolling part of the Bowen therapy movement.
Joint proprioreceptors: All Bowen moves applied around a joint directly affect the joint and ligaments, which are richly innervated with proprioreceptors, those nerves that sense the position of your body.
Lymphatic circulation: The Neurostructural Integration Technique stimulates lymphatic circulation and drainage.
Spinal reflexes: Many of the Bowen moves are performed along the spine over the erector muscles (two thick columns of heavy muscles on either side of the spinal column which run from the base of the pelvis to almost the full length of the spine). These moves appear to produce referred reactions to other areas of the body. Often people will mention that conditions were addressed, other than the one for which they originally sought consultation, – even though the practitioner didn’t know about them (e.g., improved digestion, elimination circulation or sleep).
Fascia: The fascia, sheets of connective tissue, connect everything in the body: muscles, bones, internal organs and central nervous system. They play a major role in muscle coordination, flexibility, postural alignment and overall structural and functional integrity. NIT moves free the relationship between the fascia and the nerve, muscle or tendon being addressed.
Effectiveness of the Bowen Technique
A study by Amy Norman presented in 1998 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Physical Education, Exercise and Sport Science, compared practitioner and patient responses in a survey evaluating the efficacy of the Bowen Technique in the treatment of pain. Practitioners rated the Bowen Technique effective in 85% for back pain with an average of 4.3 sessions, 88% for neck pain with 4.5 sessions, 83% for stress & tension with 4 sessions, 83% for other conditions with 5.8 sessions and 80% for fibromyalgia requiring longer treatments. Effectiveness rated by patients was 85% for back pain, 80% for stress & tension, 95% for TMJ, 80% for hip pain and 75.6% for other conditions.
I would say that from my own experience, efficacy average 80% and usually relief is experienced immediately in about 75% of the time; if not it will gradually happen in the days following treatment. Most often, most conditions can be improved if not resolved in a few sessions. Complex chronic conditions will require longer treatment but not always.
Effects of the Bowen Technique on Autonomic Nervous System and the Heart
This study, by Dr.Whitaker, MD, has shown that the Bowen Technique affects the Autonomic Nervous System by measuring changes in value and pattern in Heart Rate Variability before and after treatment.
Ashley Pritchard, at the Swinburn University department of Psychophysiology, Melbourne, showed that the Bowen Technique consistently reduced subjects level of anxiety, and enhanced individuals positive feelings by reducing tension, anger, depression, fatigue and confusion. Objective measures of decrease in Heart Rate Variability and muscle tension correlate with subjective feelings of relaxation.
This study by Dr. Whitaker, MD showed the positive effect of the Bowen Technique on patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, they all experienced various degrees of relief which lasted from a few days to several weeks. The measurements of shifts in the Autonomic Nervous System by Heart Rate Variability studies fully complemented the clinical assessments.
A research project on the application of the Bowen Technique on TMJ abnormality was started in Durango, CO by Dr. John Bauman, DDS. Assessment of masseter tension by Bio Feedback, measurement of bite and subjective symptoms were compared before and after treatment. Immediately after the 1St. treatment one third of patients felt dramatic relief in some of their symptoms and 20 out of the 22 patients showed significant improvement on the post Bio Feedback assessment.
Dr. Whitaker, using darkfield, phase and fluorescent microscopic live cell analysis, has shown blood chemistry changes following treatment. These changes corroborate the reports by certain patients, of experiencing transient flu-like symptoms, due to detox reactions lasting up to 5 days following a session.
Recently published study from England on Frozen shoulders by Dr. Bernie Carter and Rick Minnery & Bran Clarke as the Bowen Therapists at the Metropolitan University of Manchester (UK). This study involved 20 participants diagnosed with frozen shoulder and treated by the Bowen Technique. Participants claimed a high level of satisfaction with the therapy, a commitment to using Bowen in the future in case of relapse or for another condition and the intention to recommend the therapy to friends and family. 70% of participants regained full mobility (equal to the non affected side) by the end of the treatment. The other participants showed significant improvement in shoulder mobility and associated function. Some still reported some mild ache but none reported any invasive and intense pain they experienced before receiving Bowen. Even if the outcome of this small study doesn’t show 100% success, it showed that Bowen was a very effective treatment even with people who had a long standing condition with only 3 to 6 visits. This is a good outcome as other studies done on long standing frozen shoulders showed poorer results. From these 20 participants, 6 received 5 treatments, 6 received 4 and 8 received 3 treatments before being discharged from the study.
The NIT practitioner must maintain a keen sense of the tension in the tissue. This will reveal exactly where stress has built up in the tissue and how much pressure to use, where and when to do a move to release that stress.
Tonya Marie Tronco strives to do the minimum of moves to trigger in the body the desired self healing response. Doing too many “moves” could actually be counteractive. The sicker the patient or more acute their condition, the less she does during the session and the less pressure is used to do the moves.
Tonya is a reflexologist, an adept Clinical/Medical Massage Therapist, Neurostructural Integration Therapist and a Nationally Certified, State Licensed, Instructor of Neuromuscular Therapy. She is a Master of the Quantum Healing techniques of Transformative Ch’i.
Glossary of terms (definitions as relating to this article)
Acupoints: [ak-yoo-point·s] — “See Acupunture Points.”
Acupressure: [ak-yoo-presh-er] is a type of massage in which finger pressure on specific areas and acupuncture points on the body is used to promote healing, alleviate fatigue, et cetera. — See “Acupuncture” and “Acupuncture Points.”
Acupuncture: [ak-yoo-puhngk-cher] is a Chinese medical practice or procedure that treats illness and provides local anesthesia by the insertion of needles at specified sites of the body. — See “Acupuncture Points.”
Acupuncture points: [ak-yoo-puhngk-cher • point·s] (Chinese: 腧穴 or 穴位, also called acupoints) are locations on the body that are the focus of acupuncture, acupressure, sonopuncture and laser acupuncture treatment. Several hundred acupuncture points are located along meridians (connected points across the anatomy which affect a specific organ or other part of the body). There are also numerous “extra points” not associated with a particular meridian.
Bioenergetic Systems: [bahy-oh-en-er-jet-iks • sis-tuh m·s] refers to the metabolic systems of the body that order carry out the cellular processes necessary for life. — See “Bioenergetics.”
Bioenergetics: [bahy-oh-en-er-jet-iks] is the study of energy transformation in living systems. — See “Bioenergetic Systems.”
Bowen Therapy Technique: [boh-uh n • ther-uh-pee • tek-neek] — See Neurostructural Integration Technique.
Chiropractic: [kahy-ruh-prak-tik] is a therapeutic system based primarily upon the interactions of the spine and nervous system, the method of treatment is usually to adjust the segments of the spinal column. — See “Chiropractors.”
Chiropractors: (plural) [kahy-ruh-prak-ter z] practice the art and science of Chiropractic [kahy-ruh-prak-tik] which is an alternative medical system. They take a different, more natural, approach from standard medicine in the treating health problems. — See “Chiropractic.”
Fascia: Singular [fash-ee-uh]; plural fasciae [fey-shuh] is a layer of fibrous tissue that permeates the human body. A fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves, binding those structures together in much the same manner as plastic wrap can be used to hold the contents of sandwiches together. It consists of several layers: a superficial fascia, a deep fascia, and a subserous (or visceral) fascia and extends uninterrupted from the head to the tip of the toes.
Fibromyalgia: [fahy-broh-mahy-al-juh] is a catch-all term pertaining to ailments categorized by fatigue and chronic pain in the muscles and in tissues surrounding the joints.
Massage Therapy: [muh-sahzh • ther-uh-pee] or [muh-sahj • ther-uh-pee] Massage therapy is the scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for the purpose of normalizing those tissues and consists of manual techniques that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, and/or causing movement of or to the body to bring about relaxation and well-being.
Musculoskeletal System: [muhs-kyuh-loh-skel-i-tl • [sis-tuh m] (also known as the locomotor system) is an organ system that gives humans (and animals) the ability to move using the muscular and skeletal systems.
It is made up of the body’s bones (the skeleton), muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints, and other connective tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together. The musculoskeletal system’s primary functions include supporting the body, allowing motion, and protecting vital organs. The skeletal portion of the system serves as the main storage system for calcium and phosphorus and contains critical components of the hematopoietic system.
Nervous System: [nur-vuh s • sis-tuh m] is the system of nerves and nerve centers in an animal or human, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and ganglia.
Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT): [noo r-oh-muhs-kyuh-ler • ther-uh-pee] or [nyoo r-oh-muhs-kyuh-ler • ther-uh-pee] is a specialized form of manual therapy. A trained NMT therapist is educated in the physiology of the nervous system and its effect on the muscular and skeletal systems. The Neuromuscular Therapist also is educated in kinesiology and biomechanics and how to work in a clinical or medical environment. NMT is distinguished from other types of massage in that a quasi-static pressure is applied to the skin with the aim of stimulating specific areas of skeletal muscle. Often these areas of muscle are myofascial trigger points. — See “Trigger Points.”
Neurostructural Integration Technique (NIT): [noo r-oh-struhk-cher-uh'l • in-ti-grey-shuh'n • tek-neek] (commonly called “Bowen Technique” [boh-uh n • tek-neek]) is an extremely powerful, multi-dimensional, holistic method of healing. It is the very specific way in which the technique addresses the muscles that stimulate the stretch and golgi tendon reflexes as well as joint proprioceptors to heighten the sensory awareness of the body in the area worked that is worked. NIT provides the body with an opportunity to reintegrate on many levels, returning it to and maintaining normal homeostatic limits on a daily basis.
Osteopathic: [os-tee-uh-path-ik] refers to Osteopathy. — See “Osteopaths” and “Osteopathy.”
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT): [os-tee-uh-path-ik • muh-nip-yuh-ley-tiv • tek-neek] or [os-tee-uh-path-ik • muh-nip-yuh-luh-tiv • tek-neek] is hands-on healthcare. It involves using the hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. Using OMT, an osteopathic physician will move muscles and joints using techniques including stretching, gentle pressure and resistance. — See “Osteopaths” and “Osteopathy.”
Osteopaths: [os-tee-uh-path·z] are physicians trained in the field of “osteopathic medicine.” Doctors of Osteopathy [os-tee-op-uh-thee] (D.O.s) like M.D.s are equal in their authority to diagnose and treat various health conditions, prescribe medications, and perform surgery. The difference between an M.D. and a D.O. is in their approach. Osteopathic medicine emphasizes the whole person, and the connection between the musculoskeletal system and disease and symptoms. — See “Osteopathy.”
Osteopathy: [os-tee-op-uh-thee] is a therapeutic system originally based upon the premise that manipulation of the muscles and bones to promote structural integrity can restore or preserve health. Osteopathic physicians use the diagnostic and therapeutic techniques of conventional medicine as well as manipulative measures. — See “Osteopaths.”
Quantum Healing: [kwon-tuh m• hee-ling] “Quantum” is a contemporary term taken from “Quantum Mechanics.” Simplified; it means energy. You and I have the inborn ability to heal and maintain ourselves. Optimum health, joy, prosperity, et cetera, are a part of our original make-up. Quantum healing alters or adjusts the energetic fields of information in our matrix to enable a change in an idea or concept. Quantum healing neutralizes adverse or damaging energetic frequencies and replaces them with a more harmonic and healing perception restoring the matrix back to its original divine blueprint.
Reflexologist: [ree-fleks-ol-uh-just] or [ree-fleks-ol-uh-jest] is a therapist who practices reflexology. — See “Reflexology.”
Reflexology: [ree-flek-sol-uh-jee] is a system of massaging specific areas of the foot or sometimes the hand in order to promote healing, relieve stress, etc., in other parts of the body.
Transformative Ch’i: [trans-fawr-muh-tiv • chee] is an approach to health developed by Keith Coleman Pierce that uses both time–tested and cutting–edge techniques which have been developed into a quantum system that is designed to move the Whole Body toward health, joy and prosperity. In Taoism and other Chinese thought Ch’i is believed to be inherent in all things. The unimpeded circulation of chi and a balance of its negative and positive forms in the body are held to be essential to good health in traditional Chinese medicine.
Transformative Ch’i Facilitators: [trans-fawr-muh-tiv • chee • fuh-sil-i-teyt-tawr z] practice the art and science of quantum healing. However, the term “healer” is inaccurate (terme mal approprié). Transformative Ch’i facilitators are intuitive, trained professionals and very adept in assisting their clients to focus on “healing.” However, they are not, themselves, the “healer.” Healing is innate, i.e., you and I have the inborn ability to heal and maintain ourselves. Optimum health, joy, prosperity, et cetera, are a part of our original make-up. Transformative Ch’i facilitators join with you in altering or adjusting the energetic fields of information in your matrix to enable a change in an idea or concept. It is you, our client, who then neutralizes adverse or damaging energetic frequencies and replaces them with a more harmonic and healing perception, restoring your matrix back to its original divine blueprint. Traumatic Energetic Frequencies (TEF): (plural) [truh-mat-ik • en-er-jet-ik • free-kwuh n-see’z] come from emotional wounds or shock that change the vibrational characteristics of a “troubled” area of the body. TEF actually alters electrons in affected tissues thus changing their vibrational frequencies. A TEF is born from trauma acquired in this present life and from trauma encountered by our predecessors and from our own past life experiences.
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Tonya Marie Tronco may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.