Information on Feldenkrais Therapy
Definition of Feldenkrais Therapy
The Feldenkrais Method is a unique approach to changing bodily awareness and improving the way that people perform some of the movements most essential to everyday life. Developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, the system integrates aspects of anatomy, physiology, physics, engineering, psychology, martial arts and neurology to train the body and mind to adopt healthier patterns of movement and self-awareness. Through the techniques of Awareness through Movement and Functional Integration, Feldenkrais practitioners reeducate their patients on how to use different parts of their bodies in unison in order to achieve more efficient movement, better coordination and increased flexibility. Awareness through Movement classes are usually taught verbally, with the students responding to the instructions of the teacher, whereas Functional Integration teachers take the process a step further and physically direct the students’ movements. Breathing is also important in Feldenkrais Therapy. Since breathing patterns are linked stress response, concentrating on changing these patterns when presented with stress can reduce the negative effects of stress on the body. When Feldenkrais practitioners perform the movements and breathing exercises associated with this type of therapy, the result is often a relearning of the patterns of movement that have been improperly learned. Since this can improve performance in several different types of coordination based skills such as athletic and musical performance, many professional actors and musicians have used the Feldenkrais method to become even better at what they do.
History of Feldenkrais Therapy
Moshe Feldenkrais was born in the Ukraine in 1904. He began living in Israel in 1918, where he practiced Soccer and Jiu-Jitsu. In 1929, he suffered a debilitating Soccer injury which eventually led him to develop the Feldenkrais treatment methods. During the 1930’s he studied Judo after meeting Jigoro Kano, who encouraged him to teach the system to others. He helped to found the Judo Club de France before the invading German army forced him to flee the country. In 1946, he re-aggravated his old soccer injury while teaching Judo to British sailors. Combining his knowledge of engineering and physics with the movements he had learned while practicing Judo, Feldenkrais devised a method of rehabilitation that consisted of reeducating the body in order to make movements more efficient and improve balance, posture, flexibility, and muscle control. Moshe’s first book, Body and Mature Behavior: A Study of Anxiety, Sex, Gravitation and Learning, was released in 1949. For the next four decades, Feldenkrais traveled around Israel, Europe and North America, teaching his method to others until illness forced him to retire in 1981, at the age of 77.
Is Feldenkrais Therapy Safe?
Since Feldenkrais Therapy is a method of teaching and exploring the correct patterns of movement in a slow and relaxed manner, there is no danger to anyone who chooses to learn it from a qualified teacher. Feldenkrais actually helps to correct harmful patterns, making it a form of treatment with no negative side effects or drawbacks. Almost anyone can benefit from learning how to move in a more efficient manner.
How to Perform Feldenkrais Therapy: Tips and Techniques
- Remember to start with less complicated techniques and exercises first, allowing the patient to stretch and increase flexibility throughout the session. As the session progresses, muscles and tendons will become looser, allowing for greater range of movement.
- Since Feldenkrais is focused on training the brain and nervous system instead of the muscles, it isn’t necessary to push the patient too hard during a training session. Gentle motions are enough to correct the improper patterns of movement developed over the years.
- Don’t be afraid to spend too much time on one area of the body. Sometimes the process takes a long time to affect even one small area or muscle group.
- Be sure to explain how each exercise will help the client’s specific problem. By doing this, you let them know that the routine was designed especially to fit their needs.
- Ask the patient to drink plenty of water, both before and after the treatment to aid in the flushing of toxin from the body. Without proper hydration, the released toxins will have no way of leaving the body.
Benefits of Feldenkrais Therapy
Feldenkrais Therapy has been used to remedy a variety of conditions such as neuromuscular conditions (cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia), repetitive strain injuries, Multiple Sclerosis, sports injuries and back pain. Patients also experience many beneficial side effects, including reduced levels of stress, greater ease and efficiency of movement, increased range of movement, improved control of the body, improved balance, and enhanced performance in sports, music, dance, and daily activities. Since Feldenkrais is designed to increase physical intelligence, many people find that they are able to do more physical activity, but use less energy in the process. People who reported feeling apprehension about performing certain movements had these feelings reduced after Feldenkrais Therapy and felt more confidence while engaged in a wide variety of movements.