Rock Climbing Conditioning: The Bowen Technique PDF Print E-mail

Rock Climbing Injuries and The Bowen Technique

Column #80, 5th December 2009

As a rock climber, what are the barriers to enhancing performance? What is it that can slow progress and prevent achieving the return on all the hours of training and practice? Hopefully you have none, but in recent discussions and workshops with climbers I have found that the number one barrier is Injury. There are many causes and solutions to injuries, but here’s how The Bowen Technique can help.

What is the Bowen Technique?

The Bowen technique is a soft tissue remedial therapy, named after its innovator Tom Bowen and here are a few points for starters:

  • Applied for structural alignment, injury management, prehabilitation, performance enhancement and functional movement.
  • The technique involves the therapist using fingers or thumbs to move over muscle, ligament tendon and fascia in various parts of the body.
  • The work is very subtle, relaxing and gentle involving no hard or prolonged pressure.
  • During a session the client will lie on a therapy table or bed, although the work can be effectively carried out with the client in a chair.
  • Most people will have responses within three to four sessions, when even long standing chronic pain can be relieved. Other conditions might need to be treated more often, but in either case it is recommended that clients return for regular treatments every six to eight weeks to maintain optimum health.
  • For further details visit

Bowen for Rock Climbers – The Perfect Combination

So what is it about ‘Bowen’ that works so well for rock climbers? The key element is the connective tissue (fascia), which you can read more about in the previous article; “Fascia connects everything in your body – bone, muscle, organs – and is what gives you stability, strength, power and structure. It is possibly the most important tissue for a climber.”

When we think about strength and power we all to often think of the muscles only. However, it is the fascia, with its extraordinary properties, that connects everything in the body, allows muscles to glide and integrates our systems, to unlock our potential and enable us to perform feats such as a one arm pull up with two fingers, whilst twisting at the hips to gain grip with the toes at a higher foot hold.

This fascial system is exactly what The Bowen Technique works with. So when through climbing, the body’s tissues have become damaged/overused and we have developed strains, tears, adhesions, trigger points and even holding patterns, some remedial therapy can release pressure on pain receptors, aid repair and restore fluid movement once again. After all, when we see a conditioned climber in action, it is exactly that – fluidity in motion – no blockages, weaknesses or compensations.


Given the intensity of climbing, trigger points and the like are commonplace. Try this now; Palpate with your index finger up and down your forearm, locating the different muscles and see if there are any sore/tender spots. Typically these are areas of overuse/strain and will be decreasing available strength and endurance. So if you feel the need to reduce injuries and unlock some energy potential, then think more about the connective tissue health and how methods like the Bowen Technique can help you.


Jack Walton
Written on Friday, 24 September 2010 15:49 by Jack Walton

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