The FeldenKrais Method
The Truth Behind The Fiction...
In This Article –
- The Goal
- The Concept
- What Is Different About FeldenKrais?
- How Is It Taught?
- What To Expect When Learning The Method
The Short Answer –
The ‘Feldenkrais Method’ – tried and tested pain management technique or just a story of re-hashed ‘self-awareness’ theory that never works in practice? We take a realistic look at The Feldenkrais Method and its potential role in your rehabilitation.
We test the method, but find limited evidence behind it’s success, although the concept is not really new…
The Feldenkrais method helps you to build and maintain new relationships between your body and mind, achieving harmonious, graceful and most importantly, pain-free movement.
This method is based on a series of special neuro-motor coordination lessons that help you to achieve greater dexterity and improve your recovery from hip/ knee replacements, osteoarthritis. MS, stroke and many forms of chronic pain especially back/neck pain.
The Feldenkrais method focuses very specifically on developing your ability to self-regulate your own movement in line with your nervous system when carrying out a very specific function.
Flexibility and self-awareness are achieved by reprogramming the nervous system to make it more aware of what parts of the body are/ are not being used and then manipulating it to re-educate the neuro-muscular system to a better understanding of the self.
This in turn leads to altering a persons movements so as to reduce pain and build surrounding tissues to support the damaged area.
The Fundamental Concept
The Faldenkrais method is based on the concept that by freeing the mind to understand your own body better, you will be able to understand the difference in feel between ‘good’ movements and ‘bad’ movements.
This in turn will help you to achieve greater efficiency by developing a body that uses more of it’s healthy structure to support movement and that by focusing on movement, you can shape your own experience of moving to a much less painful one.
How Does The Feldenkrais Method Differ From Other Methods?
The Feldenkrais method is very much about learning how to understand and respond to your own body. Some alternative therapies will teach you to strengthen your core, others to make it more flexible.
Other methods like the ‘Alexander Method’ look to build better overall coordination, whereas the Feldenkrais method focuses specifically on using different body segments to avoid using the painful area as much as possible.
As such then the biggest single difference is that the Feldenkrais method is specific to building around each common movement. It’s training is centred around the context of specific actions.
It isn’t about building a ‘generally stronger core’, it’s focus is “when I do xyz movement, what is my most fluid, comfortable motion to do so.”
It is also teaches much more self-learning than prescriptive movements, teaching you to sense actions that are comfortable and those that are not. This may sound simple, but actually distinguishing which element of a particular action is the actual one that is causing you pain/ discomfort is probably the most essential part to being able to avoid doing it in future.
How Is The Feldenkrais Method Taught?
Either via one-to-one coaching sessions or through self-teaching programmes. You will be asked to lie on the floor and guided through a selection of well over 2,000 exercises covering a whole variety of different situations.
Once your body has learnt how to respond to each of these, it will subconsciously adapt the same principles to similar situations.
Coaching Starts On The Floor With Your Eyes Closed – Either At Home Or In A Class (Mostly In The States)
What Is The Difference between The Feldenkrais Method and The Alexander Method?
Feldenkrais actually took some key teachings from the Alexander method – most notably the impact that more fluid movement has on the body and the benefit of ‘re-learning’/ improving the mechanics of how we move.
It differs because the Alexander method is focused almost entirely on the balance between head/neck and shoulders, whereas the Feldenkrais method can be applied to the whole body.
What To Expect When Learning The Feldenkrais Method
You will be guided through literally hundreds of lessons building ‘awareness through movement’ (ATM teaching).
You will be asked to take up various positions sitting, standing or laying on the floor and your habitual movements will be explained with alternative movements to that habit presented.
The Final Word –
Like most rehabilitation techniques, the ‘Feldenkrais method’ relies on your complete dedication to it’s methodology and teachings.
It does have the advantage in that it can be learnt at home and so is both cost effective and convenient with timings.
It can also be used in conjunction with other treatments as well – so for example you could acquire the ‘greater understanding’ of how your body works and use it to achieve more fluid, pain-free movements while still attending a physio or enjoying massage therapy.
It is not like taking a painkiller where trying multiple versions at the same time is not recommended. The biggest risk here of doing that is that you lose track of which methods are actually making a difference to your pain levels.
Does it work? Well, the jury is still out on that one. Awareness of the Feldenkrais method is still very low, so numbers that have tried it are similarly low which makes it hard to find good numbers of either positive or negative testimonies.
Furthermore, it’s not an easy concept to test fairly as it’s benefits can take a number of months to realise and are rarely adopted in isolation (without using other recovery/ pain relief strategies) making it virtually impossible to define in clinical terms, what it’s individual impact has been.
However, what we can say is that its impact is certainly not harmful and has in some cases, made a real difference. The teachings of The Feldenkrais method do make sense – more fluid movements and greater awareness of moving correctly will ease your pain and aid recovery. So if it cant harm your progress and might really help, I guess the question is – what have you got to lose?
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