NST: Neurostructural Integration Technique (Advanced Bowen) 

by Lynda Sharp
The Neurostructural Integration Technique (NST) is considered by many to be the world’s leading technique in structural and spinal therapy for lasting pain removal and rejuvenation.

NST is a remarkably effective professional bodywork technique, which initiates a process of natural auto-regulation in the spinal column and consequently throughout the whole body. The effect of this is a rapid elimination or reduction of symptoms, followed by an increase in energy and an unmistakable sense of wellbeing.

The response to NST is most often profoundly effective and sometimes miraculous.

NST is essentially a soft tissue osteopathic-style therapy, designed to remove pain, physiological dysfunction and even psychological imbalances, by restoring the structural integrity of the body. Its application is suitable and safe for all ages, from newborns to the elderly.

As its main aim is to reintegrate the body-mind complex as a whole, it is often called contextual healing, consequently regarding illnesses as symptoms of imbalance. For this reason there are no contraindications, rendering the technique useful for a wide range of conditions from acute pain to chronic conditions.

Not every condition will respond in the same way. Advanced degenerative conditions often require a multifaceted approach, of which the NST may form an exceedingly significant part. A treatment comprises the application of sequences of specialized ‘moves’ to the body, carried out in a very specific and systematic manner. Characteristically, skilful soft tissue manipulation is applied to the lower and upper back, abdomen, neck, arms and legs. There is no forceful manipulation, rather a cross-fibre manoeuvring of muscle, tendon, ligament or nerve, using varying pressure and incorporating resting periods to allow the body to respond. Treatment can be done either through clothing or directly on the skin. Throughout the session the recipient experiences deep relaxation, essentially providing the body with a ‘window of opportunity’ to reorganize itself comprehensively via the natural activation of various neural reflexes and important regulatory systems. Substantial relief is frequently attained after the first session, while longterm resolution, is typically attained after the second or third session. A session generally lasts 25-45 minutes, but can be as short as five minutes in certain circumstances.

Conditions which frequently respond well to NST:
• Spinal conditions
• Cranial conditions
• Headaches including migraines
• Neck conditions including whiplash
• Back conditions: pelvic, lumbar, thoracic
• Shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand conditions
• Leg, knee, ankle and foot conditions
• All visceral conditions
• Asthma and other respiratory conditions
• Arthritis and joint conditions
• Menstrual, fertility and menopausal conditions
• Accident injuries
• Sporting injuries
• Acute and chronic fatigue
• Stress conditions and emotional depression

The origins of NST go back to the 1950s in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, when self-proclaimed osteopath Tom Bowen began to develop it, at that time simply calling his work ‘soft tissue therapy’. After Bowen’s death in 1982 interpretations of his earlier work sprang up and have been in use since that time. Of noteworthy mention is the Bowen Technique, developed in 1986 by Oswald Rentsch, one of Bowen’s early students. However, it was not until 1991 that practising Applied Physiologist, Michael J. Nixon-Livy from Australia recognised the urgent need for much of the unique later work of Tom Bowen to be organized into a practical, usable and teachable system.

Importantly, this system would have to retain the high level of clinical effectiveness that characterized Bowen’s later work when he was alive.
Intensive clinical trials and experiments were undertaken in Melbourne, Australia, over a four-year period on hundreds of individuals, to establish the most effective and reproducible interpretation of Bowen’s work.

In 1995 Nixon-Livy’s work had achieved the status of a truly integrated and effective system, and was given the name Neurostructural Integration Technique (NST), being deemed representative of the later advanced style of Tom Bowen’s work. It is important to understand that the qualities which make the NST style unique set it apart from all other interpretations of his work currently being taught. NST is clearly and emphatically in a class of its own.

Bowen was born in Australia in April 1916 and died in 1982, ironically of health complications, at the age of 66 years. He started his therapeutic career by working with junior football clubs in Victoria, Australia, as a masseur, and treated the general public at home after hours. Early in his career, Bowen discovered that he had what can only be described as an extreme hypersensitivity of the fingers and hands, which apparently enabled him to feel nerve transmission and consequently find blockages in the nervous and muscular systems. Add to this unique ability of touch a discerning eye for variation in the muscular surface tension on his client’s body, and you have a man with a rare and powerful experimental methodology for probing the body.

There is absolutely no doubt that Bowen demonstrated genius-like abilities with the development of his unique work. He became famous throughout his career for being able to cure the incurable and find solutions when none seemed possible. He treated everybody the same, from street drunkards to the well-known and powerful.

As with many geniuses whose work continues to grow and prosper well after their death, Bowen’s work in all its forms is becoming generally known around the world as Bowen Therapy and continues to grow in popularity amongst a wide variety of therapist groups.

With veterinary permission, I treat horses with NST to great effect, for a wide range of problems.