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Bowen and... surgery

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Bowen is a great choice to help a person’s body both prepare for medical procedures, and to help the body recover.

The chances are that your body was not in the best of shape prior to needing surgery. It was probably moving differently, holding itself crookedly, compensating to manage pain or enable movement. The fascia restrictions and muscle memory won’t disappear with surgery, and the body won’t suddenly gain alignment. In addition the surgery will cause massive disruption to the body, not just at the site of surgery but also the muscles and tissues in surrounding areas. Muscles and ligaments are being cut, pulled and stretched to enable the relevant part to be accessed and repaired or replaced.

Even with all due care by expert surgeons, your body may not become perfectly aligned post-surgery. While the reason for the surgery will hopefully have been addressed, you now have a wound as well. Even in minor keyhole surgery there is some trauma to the body; for something major like a hip replacement, there could be new problems generated by the surgery itself. There is a chance that your legs may be a slightly different length. It’s possible that the pelvis won’t quite sit the same. Joints will bear weight differently. Other muscles will begin to adapt as the body tries to adjust to a new normal. The exercises given by a physical therapist will be great for building new strength, but for many those exercises alone could feel too slow and will only address the region of the surgery, not the peripheral areas also affected.

Bowen can help begin to address these compensations and posture patterns prior to surgery, as well as helping manage the pain of the condition you’re having surgery for. Post-surgery, Bowen can also help gain alignment quicker, to enable faster recovery, and help return to normal life as soon as possible.

A case study - hip replacement surgery

A client had taken a fall and ‘broken’ his hip; he’d had full hip replacement surgery.

In hip replacement surgery, the damaged cartilage and bone is removed and replaced with a prosthetic joint. The hip and thigh will be cut open and muscles connected to the thighbone moved to access the hip joint. The hip will be dislocated to separate the ball from the socket. The damaged ball at the top of the thighbone is then cut off. An artificial ball, attached to a long stem, is inserted into the thighbone. The hip socket is hollowed out, then replaced with an artificial cup-shaped socket. A spacer (plastic, ceramic or metal) replaces the cartilage, to provide a smooth surface between the ball and socket. Then the ball is put back into the socket, to re-create the joint, and the skin cut closed.

This is not the most fun you will ever have.

It generally takes around 3 months to recover from a hip replacement but after 9 months, recovery for this gentleman was slow. He was doing all the exercises given, and some more, but making no progress. His pelvis was uneven. His knee wasn’t sitting right and it was weak and painful. His foot was also quite stiff, unable to flex as well as he’d like, so he couldn’t move easily. He was needing to use a walking frame to walk anywhere. A relative was convinced that Bowen therapy would help.

After the first treatment he was without his walking frame. He was still being guided, a hand on the elbow, to be sure he remained stable on his feet. As he arrived for a third treatment, again without the walking frame, he was waving away the helping hand, insistent that he was okay. His main complaint was that his ankle wasn’t flexing enough, giving him the risk of tripping as he walked.

Within the space of a few Bowen treatments, he had gone from being reliant on a walking frame to being able to move about independently again.


Your surgery might have been some time ago, in which case your problems may be related to scar tissue. Scar tissue forms internally as well as externally, so while you may not have any external scars it's quite likely that you will have some internal ones. Scar tissue is tough and fibrous compared to regular tissue, and it doesn't flex the way regular tissue - and particularly muscle tissue and fascia - should. Again there's good news. Bowen therapy is actually very good at breaking down scar tissue and allowing healthier tissue to form in its place.

So if you're having surgery, or if you've already had it, a few Bowen sessions might be just what you need to get your body back into tip-top condition.

Adapted from ‘Hip replacement - how to really help recovery and regain a normal life’ by Lisa, published on 1 Feb 2018

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