Felde-what? The Feldenkrais Method, created by Moshé Feldenkrais in the mid-20th century, was designed to reorganize brain-body connections in order to improve a person’s self-awareness and body movement. But does it actually work? Continue reading for a brief overview of the Feldenkrais Method and how it relates to physiotherapy today!
What Exactly is the Feldenkrais Method?
The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic technique that can help people reconnect with their bodies and learn how to move more efficiently. Some participants have reported increased energy, coordination, ease of pain and stiffness, and the ability to overcome physical and mental limitations. Practitioners have also found success rehabilitating stroke victims, multiple sclerosis patients, and people suffering from neurological injuries.
This method focuses on improving everyday physical activities with slow movements. For example, this method focuses on activities like sitting, standing, and reaching. The Feldenkrais Method helps individuals understand how the whole body participates in the healing and recovery process.
How does it Work?
While physical therapy has a similar methodology, Feldenkrais practitioners work to enhance an individual’s physical and mental awareness to promote fluidity in their movements. This therapy attempts to align the nervous system with other body parts in order to discover constricting habits and movements. Once these habits are discovered, people can learn new ways to expand their range of movement.
Additionally, self-awareness can help people improve their difficulties with movement, which will lead to an enriched sense of physical and mental functioning. As a result of the Feldenkrais Method, refined movements and focused attention help activate the brain’s neuroplasticity and improve a person’s overall performance.
The two formats of the Feldenkrais Method formats are Functional Integration and Awareness Through Movement. We’ll explore these methods in the sections below.
An individual works closely with a practitioner while using the Functional Integration (FI). This option requires the practitioner to develop a unique treatment plan for each patient. Another defining factor of FI is the fact that the practitioner will have hand-on contact with the patient as they guide their movements. Using props such as pillows and rollers to support posture and facilitate movement is also common.
Awareness Through Movement
Awareness Through Movement (ATM) involves facilitation in a group setting with verbal instruction from a Feldenkrais practitioner. Movements can include sitting, lying on the floor, standing, and other functional activities. The goal of ATM is learning which movements work better and noticing the positive changes in the body. It’s important to note that there are different levels of complexity to suit the varying needs of patients.
How can Feldenkrais help?
The Feldenkrais Method can help people of all ages. The techniques are specifically designed to treat restriction, discomfort, and other motion-related limitations caused by injuries, chronic pain, or other physical or neurological complications.
Increases in flexibility and coordination, as well as decreases in pain and muscle tension, have been reported by Feldenkrais methods participants. By experiencing these benefits, a person may also enjoy greater ease of movement and higher energy levels. These results can also help to reduce stress and feelings of anxiety.
Benefits of the Feldenkrais Method:
- Improved posture, movement, coordination, and balance
- Integrated movement with thoughts, feelings, and senses
- Better sleep
- Enhanced overall well-being
- Appropriate for all ages
- Safe, gentle, and non-invasive compared to other practices
Who Oversees Credentials and Training?
The most notable organization covering the Feldenkrais Method and its application is the International Feldenkrais Federation (IFF). The Feldenkrais Guild of North America (FGNA) certifies Feldenkrais training programs in America. Training usually lasts 3-4 years and practitioners must complete 750-800 hours of instruction and practice. Participation in ATM and FI lessons, lectures, discussions, and attendance are all requirements for graduation.
What are your thoughts regarding the Feldenkrais Method? Do you believe that it is an effective form of alternative therapy? Have you or your patients had success with it in the past? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!