'I had been suffering from an extremely painful left knee for over 18 months, that hadn't responded to multiple physiotherapy sessions or sports rehabilitation. I was unable to walk either up or down stairs without sharp pain in my knee. It clicked uncomfortably with every step and I had been unable to straighten it for some months. As a keen marathon runner, my mental health was suffering badly and the advice I had been given was my running days were behind me.
James approached the first session by listening attentively to exactly what the various symptoms were, and discussing what would constitute success. I felt that my aim to run again, after such a long break, was taken seriously. After the first Bowen session, my knee no longer clicked; after the second I could walk up and down stairs without any pain and by the third session I could straighten my leg. James then used AiM to get me back to running and encouraged me to try longer distances, rather than the usual hesitation in getting back to normalcy. After only 2 months I was running a mile and 5 months later I am running for almost 45 minutes. I see him every couple of months at the moment.
The combination of Bowen and AiM has had a dramatic effect in my life, and it is strange to think I was injured for so long, and how quickly my body responded. The sessions are relaxing and enjoyable, yet unbelievably effective. It has quite literally changed my life: I feel normal again.'
Lloyd C. Hertfordshire
Lloyd’s knee wasn’t responding to physio because the knee wasn’t the problem: it was his jaw (I think as a result of dental work several years back) and how his body had reorganised around an accident he’d had as a teenage middle distance runner. Once I’d fixed the issue in his jaw, the knee pain stopped and then we used AiM to repattern how his body moved. I see no reason at the moment why he won't be able to run marathons again if he wants to.
"I was suffering from a seriously painful neck on one side, it felt like a steel cable running from my skull to my shoulder and even just lifting my head off the pillow was horrible. I was a professional Trapeze Artist for 20 years, and so I was quite used to good amounts of pain coming and going especially in the neck and shoulder area, but this time it went on for months with only temporary relief from various attempts at improvement from massage and physio.
I started coming to London every other week for work and once I met James I knew that Bowen was exactly what I needed. And it was. I can’t say it was comfortable, but after the first session I instantly felt the difference and in four or five 15 minute treatments I forgot that I had ever been in any pain. I can ’t recommend James' skill highly enough! He has a superb eye, laser-like attention to detail, knowledge, passion, humour and intuition in bucket loads."
Jane. Paris, France.
"Before I had the kids, I was a keen skier, but two C sections put me out of action for a while. I also had unstable ankles and hypermobility, and used to twist my ankle badly at least once a week whilst just walking.
I really wanted to get back into skiing, so I went to see James who did some work on my body and feet over a handful of sessions. The first year back skiing after children, I was more stable and my turns have improved. And I’ve stopped twisting my ankle all the time!
We do maintenance sessions every now and then and the second year of skiing was even better than before I had children. My ankle and hip joints are more stable and I’ve transitioned back to exercise and challenging yoga in a safe way and feel stronger. I continue to see James for top up sessions and I’m looking forward to the skiing season this year."
Sarah (Highgate, London)
[Update: May 2021. Sarah cannot remember the last time that she twisted her ankle. I've not worked on it for over 18 months.]
On June 15th, 2019 there was a preliminary study into the effects of McLoughlin Scar Tissue Release® (MSTR®) on Caesarean Section scars which was conducted at The Newcastle Clinic, Newcastle, UK with Consultant Radiologist Dr Peddada Raju.
A General Electric (GE) Soniq S8 ultrasound scanner was used to conduct the test on three test subjects with C-section scars. Each subject was pre-scanned and images including size and depth of scar tissue and the amount of vascularity both surrounding and within the scar were recorded. MSTR work was then applied for a total of 15 minutes per subject, as a single treatment. Immediately after MSTR treatment each subject underwent a post-treatment ultrasound scan conducted by Dr Raju.
All three subjects were shown to have decreased scar tissue in the post treatment scan. One example of improvement was of a scar that was initially measured at 31.5mm pre treatment. The scar was re-measured at just 18.1mm post treatment. Another example was that of a longitudinal scar reducing in size from 22.7mm pre-treatment to just 10.4mm post-treatment. An increase in vascularity was noted not only in the surrounding tissue but also actually through the scar. Interestingly it should be noted that NO vascularity was present in the pre-scan of the same area.
This initial work confirms the claim that MSTR helps open the densely bound collagen fibres that make up scar tissue to allow increased blood flow into the area once again. This preliminary work will be followed by a larger study that will be undertaken at ‘The Newcastle’ later in 2019.
Read Charlotte's story.
"I was initially recommended to see James by my Pilates teacher for back issues. His calm manner belies the power of his treatments. The technique is so minimal that it is hard to believe anything happens… but it does. I still don’t quite understand how.
Therefore, when I heard he was particularly interested in using Bowen on problem feet, I decided to give it a go. I was sceptical to say the least. I had had surgery for Morton’s Neuroma in one foot and arthritis in the other. Within no more than 2-3 sessions, I had begun to regain flexibility in my feet.
Now, nearly a year later, and with no further treatment needed for my feet beyond the initial 5 sessions it took for them to change, it is no exaggeration to say that my life has been transformed. I no longer need to use orthotics, but, even more life-changing, I have been able to return to dance classes after 30+ years, including Zumba and ballet - something that was quite unthinkable before my Bowen sessions with James."
CB, Primrose Hill
I saw James initially for Bowen as my ankle was sore after a strain a few years back and I’d suffered with headaches and migraines since I was 18. I noticed quite a dramatic difference in regularity of my headaches after about 3 sessions: instead of the usual 2-3 a week, it turned into 1-2 a month. My ankle pain also disappeared.
James told me about his ‘scar work’ and I booked in for a session for my C-section scar. Interestingly, after the appointment I no longer felt the emotional charge from my scar or the previous sensitivity in the surrounding area. Over time, I’ve noticed that the scar has become barely noticeable, the redness gone and the skin is smoother. Now I’m pregnant again with my second, I’ll definitely be seeing James post birth!
Beauty Expert & Facialist
"I’ve been having Bowen Therapy with James for the past 2 years for various issues. Initially I saw him for a very tight, stiff, painful lower back which wasn’t resolving after months of physio & massage therapy. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but to my complete surprise a couple of days following my Bowen treatment I felt an opening in my back. The blockage was no longer there, I felt lighter. I could bend down freely and touch my hands to floor, something that was utterly impossible to do prior to Bowen therapy.
As I got such a great result, nowadays if I have an issue, whether is back pain, muscle tightness or pins & needles in my legs, I turn to James and within one session I am back to normal.
Up to this day I am still puzzled how such a minimal rolling movement could have such a big impact in my wellbeing. Bowen must be magic."
[Bowen isn't magic, but people are regularly surprised at how a few, well-targeted moves can make a big difference to their lives.]
“Just wanted to write a note to tell you that I haven't seen my mother this active in over a decade. She's lost so much weight, is walking so much better (even her friends have complimented her on this, not knowing of the work she's been doing).
Thank you so much for everything and your sessions this summer, I never thought I'd see my mother get to this level of activity and confidence, let alone in just a few months. She's excited about her new-found mobility, and for that we as a family are forever grateful.”
I did two sessions of Bowen and Anatomy in Motion while this lady was staying in her Knightsbridge home in August 2018. She carried on doing her exercises afterwards and her daughter sent me this email at the end of October.
James is an engineer in his 30s who came to me primarily because of pain he was getting in his left foot and knee. It would hurt to walk from the first steps he took in the morning and he would have to put his feet up to rest “like an old man” by about 8pm every day. He also had a constant ache in his back when he was sitting and would get a pain in his left shoulder blade when taking in a deep breath.
Anyone who practices Bowen has to get used people asking what on earth Bowen is as it is far from being as well known in the UK. This first answer often leads to a second layer of questions, which boil down to what the difference between Bowen, osteopathy, physiotherapy and chiropractic is.
There are two things to flag before answering: first, the work of excellent therapists working with the body from all backgrounds can look and especially sound quite similar. This is because (second caveat) it is ultimately the skill of the therapist and not the name of their style which matters. Regulation does not (and never will) stop there being good and bad practitioners in every style.
What is Physiotherapy?
Growing out of early C20 physical rehabilitation work, physiotherapy is the approach to physical therapy which is historically established within the NHS. Physios thus have exclusive right to call themselves by the title Physiotherapists or Physical Therapists (even though there are many other people doing physical therapy). They typically offer:
Physio treatment encompasses everything from stroke and post-operative rehab to working with sports injuries. Training and style differs from country to country, so someone trained in Australia or Canada may work differently to a British trained therapist.
Key Idea: Rehabilitative improvement of the mechanical function of your body.
Techniques Used: wellbeing advice, corrective exercise, manual therapy (massage, ultra sound etc)
Session Length: first session 30- 60 minutes, ongoing shorter (often 30 minutes).
What is Osteopathy?
The first osteopathic training centre opened in 1892 and the approach is based on the idea that correct muscular-skeletal structure will promote optimal health. Since 1993 osteopathy has been regulated and can be available on the NHS.
The original philosophy of osteopathy is to give structural corrections, specifically of bone and soft tissue, using a wide variety of manual techniques so that the blood can circulate unhindered. Osteopathy has been evolving over its 120 year history, and many osteopaths now use corrective exercise and have adopted an understanding of their work which can be quite hard to distinguish from a physiotherapist.
Key Idea: correction of physical structure leads to better blood circulation and better overall health.
Techniques Used: many different types of manual therapy (including soft tissue and sometimes velocity manipulations or “crunches”), advice, sometimes corrective exercise.
Session Length: Longer initial appointment then often 30-45 mins ongoing.
What is Bowen?
Tom Bowen saw himself as part of the osteopathic tradition, and the philosophy behind his work is similar to both classic osteopathy and chiropractic. What is very different is how he worked to get his results.
The mechanism of Bowen is probably neurological, using brief corrections followed by periods of rest. To the best of our understanding these movements, and the breaks which follow them, effect the nervous system through the superficial touch receptors in the connective tissue under the skin.
Key Idea: Neurological stimulation leading to muscular-skeletal, proprioceptive or endocrinal change.
Techniques Used: joint mobilisation, the Bowen Move, holding points.
Average Session Length: Initial and ongoing sessions 30-60 minutes (depending on several factors).
The London Bowen Clinic currently offers Bowen Technique, MSTR Scar Work and AiM in Cambridge and Primrose Hill, London NW1 and NW3.