After breaking both legs and battling cancer, Sherrie Clark, of Union, was “pretty broken and beaten.” She found relief from her pain and stiffness through Bowen therapy. She was so impressed by the results of the treatment that she became a certified professional Bowen work practitioner in 2009. Clark now offers her Bowen therapy services to youth for free. Among her free clients are Medomak Valley High School athletes, who she has helped return to action quickly after injuries.
Bowen is an alternative type of physical manipulation named after its Australian founder, Thomas Ambrose Bowen. The therapy involves soft tissue mobilization using the thumb and fingers in a rolling motion. The technique “stimulates the body’s autonomic nervous system to rebalance and heal itself. Once this occurs, the body can initiate a healing response affecting the musculoskeletal framework, but also the fascia, nerves, and internal organs. The body’s response to Bowen improves circulation and lymphatic drainage, enhancing the elimination of toxins,” Clark’s website states.
Clark, RN, BSN, a registered nurse for years, specialized in pediatric and adult critical care. She suffered a life-changing injury in a fall off a garage roof in 1999, when she broke both legs. One of the breaks was a compound fracture in her lower leg.
She was diagnosed with stage four thyroid cancer in 2006 and underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments. She developed a frozen shoulder after surgeries. She went to a chiropractor, but found no relief. After three sessions with Bowen therapy, her shoulder was no longer frozen. “I said, ‘Hey, there is something to it,’” Clark said.
Her first treatment with Kristine Anderson, in Camden, was a whole-body treatment. Clark was skeptical after the first treatment, but after the second treatment she could raise her arm beyond 90 degrees, and after the third she could raise her arm to her ear.
After recovering from the accident and cancer treatments, she realized she was no longer able to spend long hours on her feet, so she sought out an alternative career that would still allow her to help people.
She was introduced to Bowen therapy while a cancer patient. “I was very ill and unable to swallow,” she said. “The Bowen procedures I received allowed me to swallow easier, relieved my pain, and decreased my swelling. I was able to have my feeding tube removed early and I no longer needed pain medication. Because of the dramatic healing experience from the Bowen work, I decided to study Bowen.”
Many hospitalizations, nine surgeries, and the experience of using a wheelchair gave her a deep sense of compassion and understanding of her patients’ pain and suffering.
As a Bowen work practitioner, she now specializes in holistic, alternative health care. “Helping people feel healthy, balanced, and comfortable is my goal. I turned around a bad situation and found another way to help people,” Clark said.
With Bowen therapy, a practitioner works a few minutes, then lets the patient rest to start the healing process, then returns and works a few more minutes. The alternating rest and work fit Clark’s new life perfectly.
“I could still help people,” she said. “I love Bowen therapy. It is a passion of mine.”
After deciding to offer her services to youth for free, she discovered that Bowen founder Tom Bowen “never charged kids either.” When she offers her services to youth for free, Clark said, “it comes back to you.”
Clark has had good results getting athletes back to playing quickly. She has helped to relieve swelling and promote healing of ankle, knee, and hip injuries, as well as others.
One of the first student athletes she treated was a cheerleader with severely flat feet. “She had just come from practice and was complaining about her feet hurting,” Clark said. Clark offered Bowen therapy. “She came faithfully and regularly. Her feet straightened out, her arches raised, and her feet never hurt again,” Clark said.
“The good thing about working on children is they are resilient and heal quickly,” Clark said.
She worked with Medomak senior Cameron Martin during the 2015-2016 season, after he sustained a nasty high-ankle sprain during a basketball game. A cheerleader’s mom suggested to his mom, Kali Martin, that she take her son to Clark.
“Cam came to me three times and did everything I asked him to do, Epsom salts and stretching,” Clark said.
She also used kinesio tape on Martin, which is a flexible compression tape. The tape helps reduce swelling, promotes lymphatic drainage, and lifts the skin to initiate healing.
“It makes a huge difference,” Clark said of using the tape on a bad hematoma and on bruises. “I use it anytime someone is in severe pain,” she said, including in cases of carpal tunnel and tennis elbow.
Cam Martin “had a really bad sprain last year at the end of the season,” Kali Martin said. “There was very little (doctors) could do. It was really swollen and he could not get his shoe on.” After leaving the hospital, she took out Clark’s business card and gave her a call. Clark told her that if she could bring him to her, she would begin treatment right away.
“The swelling went down. It was a relaxing, beautiful, healing environment,” Kali Martin said.
Cam Martin went back to Clark before the 2016-2017 season for a “tuneup.” “She is very nice and definitely helps a lot,” he said.
When a Medomak teammate injured his hip early this season, Cam Martin brought him to Clark. The teammate missed just one game with the injury.
“The nurse in me loves to help people feel better,” Clark said.
“She has been very helpful,” Medomak boys basketball coach Nick DePatsy said. “Not only has she done a great job on them, she just educates them and gives them good ideas to help them. Food and nutrition are a part of it. She has a lot of productive ideas to get them back quicker.”
“She doesn’t even charge kids. She has been good that way,” DePatsy added.
“No one really knows what Bowen is. It is relatively new in this area,” Clark said. “It is easy on the body.”
Anyone who wants to check out Bowen therapy for free can visit Clark at the Knox Family Planning Clinic, behind the Rockland Library, where she provides services a couple of times a month. On March 23, she will be at Eastern Tire’s Health Fair in Rockland from 9-11 a.m.
Clark can be reached at 785-2468 or on her cell phone at 975-6805.