In 1992, Dr. Audrey Butko’s back pain wouldn’t go away. The general practitioner tried physical therapy, chiropractic and medication, all to no avail.
“I couldn’t touch my toes,” Butko said, “and my knees were killing me. I was searching for someone to help but couldn’t find anyone.”
A friend told Butko about the Bowen technique, a process developed during the 1950s that consists of several series of gentle moves with the fingers and thumbs through lightweight clothing or on one’s skin.
“They used me as a demonstration for tight hamstrings,” Butko said. “It turned out to be exactly what I needed. Three days after my first treatment, the pain went away. I was sold on the technique.”
So much so that Butko left her successful 14-year practice in California to study the holistic, alternative technique at the group’s training center in Prescott. She opened the Bowen Center of Scottsdale two years ago and is the lone Valley practitioner who has completed advanced training.
Helen Renfro of Chandler learned about Bowen though a friend in Hawaii. She turned to Butko for help with recurrent lower back problems.
“After the first treatment, I cut my anti-inflammatories back,” Renfro said. “The next time, I stopped them. I was making serious progress until I wound up going away for several weeks. I’m back and I intend to keep showing up.”
Butko, 52, said Bowen opened a new door for her.
“I realized that the majority of my patients needed this, not pills, not surgery,” she said. “(The process) turns on the body’s natural healing mechanism. The moves we do send messages to the brain to turn on the healing mechanism. There are no side effects.”
Butko said the number of sessions a person will attend depend on need. She added it’s not uncommon for someone to note relief after one session, but some require four or five, scheduled a week apart.
“I’ve worked on people with spinal stenosis who were looking at surgery,” she said. “After several sessions, the pain was gone and they didn’t need surgery any longer.”
Butko said she had a patient whose brother, a chiropractor, said he didn’t want to work on his sister any longer. The woman came to Butko and her pain was gone in three sessions.
With the Bowen technique, a person lies on a bed or bodywork table, or sits in a chair. A session lasts 15 minutes to an hour. Practitioners target specific muscles and tendons. Using fingers and thumbs, the area is manipulated, the muscle is then challenged and moved in the opposite direction. The patient will be left alone for two minutes, allowing the released energy to travel through the body fully before the next move.
Practitioners say the technique is similar to tuning a stringed instrument that sends harmonic vibrations that balance the body. The technique seems to be effective for muscular, skeletal, or nerve imbalance. It has also been successful in treating chronic pain due to injury, Butko said.
The technique can be used on infants and the elderly. It produces a deep relaxation and can release blocked emotional energy.
According to the Bowen Web site, www.bowtech.com, the process can aid people with asthma, scoliosis, pain, frozen shoulder, stress, fibromyalgia, hip and back problems, muscular and skeletal injury, autonomic nervous system imbalances and chronic pain due to injury or emotional trauma.