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Natural Awakenings South Central Pennsylvania

Pain Relief Available at Carlisle Bowenwork Center

Jan 28, 2014 08:28PM ● By Nancy Somera

Nancy Bittinger with client

Throughout her career as a licensed massage therapist, Nancy Bittinger, of Carlisle Bowenwork Center for Wholistic Health and Wellness, has frequently sought out continuing education courses to learn new bodywork techniques to use on her clients.

After reading an article on Bowenwork, a system of soft tissue therapy that was developed by the late Tom Bowen, in Australia, she was skeptical, believing, “This is too good to be true.” Intrigued by learning that the gentle, rolling motions used by the therapist during sessions were easier on the practitioner’s own body, as well as the client’s, she researched further by calling Bowenwork practitioners all over the country. “When every one of them told me to do whatever I needed to do to take the classes, I signed up for the next available course,” Bittinger says.

That was 2011, and the beginning of a new direction in her career. “I am obsessed with it and keep taking more classes,” Bittinger shares. In addition to her initial training and certification, she has logged more than 48 additional hours fine-tuning the assessment process so she is able to get to the root of the problem in fewer sessions. Bittinger has studied with one of the world’s most expert Bowenwork practitioners, Graham Pennington, author of A Textbook of Bowen Technique, a comprehensive guide to the practice of Bowen therapy.

A typical session lasts between 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the nature of the problem. After discussing symptoms, clients lie on a massage table and Bittinger looks for clues in the body, such as the length of each leg or whether the pelvis is level, to identify underlying issues. Then she begins a series of motions designed to move the client’s central nervous system from a sympathetic state, where the fight-or-flight response occurs, to a parasympathetic state, where healing occurs.

These Bowenwork “moves” send sensory information to the brain, resetting tension levels and activating the body’s natural healing response. There are frequent rest periods between sets of moves, allowing the body time to assimilate and respond to the work. Because it works primarily through the nervous system, healing occurs on many levels as needed: physical, mental and emotional.

Conditions helped by Bowenwork include musculoskeletal, respiratory, digestive, reproductive, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, ADD, ADHD and sensory integration issues and migraines, among others.

Bittinger describes the method as life-changing. Clients that have been experiencing chronic pain for years and even decades find relief from this therapy. “Nothing works the way it works,” she maintains. She became a true believer when students yet to master the technique practiced on her during the training course and her own 10-year neck pain dissolved as a result. “I love my work and helping people so much,” Bittinger says. “I have found the thing I was meant to do in life.”

Location: 200 S. Spring Garden St., Carlisle. For more information, call 717-386-8279 or visit

Nancy Somera is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings.

October 2019