The Feldenkrais Method and Back Pain.

The Principle of The Feldenkrais Method Works, But Does It Apply Well To Back Pain?

In This Article –

  • The Methods’ Rise In Popularity
  • Can It Relieve Back Pain?
  • The Results

The Short Answer –

You suffer with back pain. Everything you do causes your spine to move and your pain levels to increase. Your back is fundamental to your life and now you’re being asked to sit in a quiet room and think about disengaging your body parts and exercising each independent of the others. 

I wonder if I am indeed living in a parallel universe if I believe this may make any difference whatsoever……

Today we review the Feldenkrais Method and back pain.

Growing Slowly

The Feldenkrais Method is still largely unknown as a reliable technique for reducing back pain. I am sat in my living room with my wife and several highly recommended books (and a dvd) to guide me through a series of exercises that will (apparently) reduce my lower back pain.

The trouble with the Feldenkrais method is that it’s still new in our consciousness – too new to have had significant research done around its long-term efficacy. Several researched reports have tried to pull together the limited trials and draw conclusions from it, but each one has reached the same general outcome – that there has not been enough research completed to draw a viable conclusion one way or the other.

(Image) “I’ll Try Anything To Escape Another Spinal Injection”

Can It Help Relieve Back Pain?

The Feldenkrais Method and back pain reduction is not implausible if you can see the benefit of a much higher self-awareness and the ability to replicate more fluid movements. For me (or at least according to my wife), I am as clumsy and heavy-footed as they come and the chances of me doing anything ‘smoothly’ are as likely as my three year old daughter watching Peppa Pig on TV and asking for a bacon sandwich.

The more traditional approach would be to adopt a ‘build core strength’ philosophy whereby muscles around the spine are worked in the view that this will then protect the spine through added support. The Feldenkrais Guild® of North America (FGNA) would dispute this approach however, pointing out that it is not individualised enough and doesn’t isolate the areas that are actually causing the pain.

By isolating each individual movement of the body and being ore aware of how each body part is inter-connected, you can make more controlled, deliberate and ultimately pain-free movements.

Much of the teaching of the Feldenkrais Method is done via attended classes at local halls, but with this technique being new to many countries, these are few and far between unless you live in the States – in which case they are still expensive and time consuming.

So with the help of my new ‘trainer’ (my wife), several highly recommended books and a dvd, I lie on a mat in our lounge and prepare to follow her every instruction.

As I wait detailed instructions of the first exercises, I can’t help wondering how a (relatively) fit 45 year old has ended up here.

Especially after all the rest, painkillers, physio and massage I have been through previously. Even though the massage has genuinely eased my pain, I can still be in agony after sitting down for long periods of time (even with a proper back support)

I have however now read several accounts of individuals using the Feldenkrais method and back pain being at least partially reduced, which has given me heart.

Mindfulness Word Image

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The Results

I was originally hoping to flood this section with photos of the main exercises to follow, but on reflection with over 1000 exercises on offer, posting just a tiny selection, would not do them justice.

Having also looked around at the various videos on youtube, I found the same problem. They are too basic to justify your time – you really need to fully read/ understand the concepts of the techniques and then take them step by step.

We started with basic eye moving exercises. How is this supposed to help, you may ask? Well the point is showing a video of someone with their eyes closed will do nothing for you – but it is apparently an essential start to the technique.

Separating Movements

One of the central concepts is that you need to learn to be much more conscious about every movement you make.

Eye movements are an essential part of how your body begins it’s movement and by getting more conscious control of your eye movements, you gain more conscious control of your bodies other contractions.

These contractions are the ones that often unconsciously set off tightening of muscles and back pain. Most of the exercises are actually fairly similar to this, but despite being largely completed while sitting or lying on the floor, they actually leave you feeling quite exhausted at the end.

The Final Word –

Did it work? Well, in truth it’s a job to know just yet. My pain does feel a bit reduced in the days afterwards and I think once I have fully learnt the teachings around the Feldenkrais method and back pain, I will definitely come back and update you all. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from anyone who has already tired this method and what your conclusions were…..

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References –

1. The Feldenkrais Guild of North America.

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