|The art, practice and science of Feldenkrais®
Director: Robert J. Burgess BEd, PT, PhD, Feldenkrais Practitioner
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the feldenkrais method® in rehabilitation
The Feldenkrais Method (FM) is a very powerful rehabilitation tool.
Musculoskeletal Medicine (if you see a traditional MD or PT this is what you get) is regional only, i.e. where it hurts is where the problem is. A low back pain is caused by some pathology or dysfunction of the lumbar spine. In the Feldenkrais Method it is also appreciated that the musculoskeletal system is a system and that interactions between body segments can cause excessive strain and pain, i.e. a global view of human movement. Hence a rigid thorax or an immobile pelvis could be the underlying cause of the strain in the lumbar spine and hence the ultimate cause of the low back pain. These differences between traditional medicine and a Feldenkrais approach to musculoskeletal pain can be mutually inclusive and not exclusive (new observations and techniques usually meet with resistance from the old established methodologies- this does not need be so). This is the initial major difference between medicine (as it stands today-it will change and include a FM model soon enough) and FM.
The second major difference is that "treatment" in the Feldenkrais Method consists of exercise and mobilizations that promote improved motor control to avoid the excessive strains causing pain. It is a learning model. It is Movement Education versus a structural approach (stretching, strengthening, manipulation, medications, surgery). There are educative aspects to Medicine but minimal and nothing like the power of FM. Again FM is not alternative but a yet little known and under utilized aspect of human movement and learning that could well be integrated into Medicine.
FM can be utilized in a rehabilitation setting as an adjunct to traditional medicine. Or it can be used as a stand alone process for movement education, posture and body-mind awareness. I am a physical therapist and I integrate traditional PT with Feldenkrais movement learning processes.
Pain, pathology and function
The primary contribution of FM is a focus to function rather than pain and pathology alone.
For most regular musculoskeletal problems:
Skeletal choreography: Coaching
To improve your golf, dancing, singing, you see a coach who studies your movement and makes suggestions about your "technique". We all move and act with our own skeletal choreopgraphy. Our skeletal choreopgraphy can be a graceful joy or a painful flop. We can be coached.
Who is it for?
When you begin to move with greater ease as nature meant and free yourself of old inhibitory muscular habits then you will feel easier in yourself. Maybe you will discover a little of how and why you might have stopped yourself.
Differences between the Feldenkrais Method and other "therapies"
Firstly, there is nothing wrong with differences.
Feldenkrais belongs in the realm of body-mind psychology where attending to and improving movement and function enhances our being. FM can also be utilized very powerfully in rehabilitation of musculo-skeletal pain and pathology.
When you visit a Feldenkrais practitioner they will attend more to the whole body with your pain/dysfunction issues and perhaps be a little more aware of all the inter-relationships affecting your pain. This is how we function in life- all of ourselves.
On a spectrum with pain and pathology at one end and function at another, your Feldenkrais practitioner will be at the function end. Pain changes as a consequence of better functioning. Traditional medical therapies will only work with the pain and pathology aiming then to change function as a consequence. Both have a place and sometimes better to have both available.
While Feldenkrais work is always concerned about pain and pathology this does not determine "treatment" to the same extent as in traditional therapies.
Some therapies can be painful. While this is effective and perhaps necessary at times, it is avoided in Feldenkrais work. In FM the body is coaxed to new awareness and movement and never pushed.
Feldenkrais works with the central nervous system (CNS) to change movement patterning. Muscles are lengthened and the skeleton better aligned by improving CNS organzation. No painful stretching or strengthening only functional learning.
In FM, the hands on process provides information for the CNS to learn and be reminded of a simpler organization with freer joints and muscles. FM does not manipulate to alter structures, rather, the hands on guides new movement learning.
Hands ON and Classes
FM uses a hands on one to one processes called Functional Integration and class movement lessons called Awareness Through Movement.