Other natural treatments for arthritis
Author/s: Leonard C. Bruno
The Feldenkrais method is a mind/body integration technique that uses movement to
enhance the communication between the brain and the body.
Purpose of Feldenkrais Method
With an increased awareness and correction of poor physical habits that unduly strain
joints and muscles, improved physical and mental performance is achieved, as well as a
more positive self-image and better overall health. This method offers exercises that help
the body to program the brain through movement, thus benefiting the total mind/body
Precautions before Feldenkrais Method
This method involves no pushing, prodding, or vigorous manipulation. Rather, it
prescribes a series of light movements performed slowly and easily, without any strain or
pain. Not everyone is suited to it temperamentally however, since it requires a degree of
patience and an ability to pay attention to small details or sensations.
Description of Feldenkrais Method
The Feldenkrais method is named after its creator, the Russian-born Israeli physicist,
Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984). Besides being a scientist who worked on nuclear research
and antisubmarine technology, he was also a judo master and an excellent soccer player.
After developing a chronic knee problem in the 1940s that was very painful, he decided to
explore the body's functions as a way of avoiding surgery. Drawing on the work of the
mind/body pioneer Frederick Matthias Alexander, founder of the Alexander technique,
Feldenkrais combined his knowledge of martial arts with neurology, physiology, anatomy,
and psychology to create a new system. His method helps people create more efficient
movement by combining movement training, gentle touch, and verbal dialogue. He eventually
taught himself to walk again without pain.
During his research and self-experimentation, Feldenkrais developed a theory that
approached the human being as a complex system of physical functions and intelligence in
which movement is a key that not only reflects the state of our nervous systems, but is
the basis of our self-awareness. Since he believed that all our sensations, thoughts, and
emotions necessarily result in some type of muscle change in the body, he believed the
opposite to be also true: changes in the normal interrelationships of muscle patterns can
affect and alter thoughts, emotions, and attitudes.
Since Feldenkrais felt that most people do just enough with their bodies to get by and
never push themselves anywhere near their potential for greater movement. He reasoned that
most had to be reeducated to first recognize or become aware of these faulty patterns or
habits. Only after this awareness could instruction and change begin. The body is then
taught how to function with greater ease, fluidity, and motion, resulting in better health
and an improved self-image.
Feldenkrais developed over one thousand different movements or exercises that are
taught in one of two approaches. Private one-on-one sessions focus on hands-on touch and
guided movement called Functional Integration. Group lessons are called Awareness through
Movement. Both names are registered trademarks. In both types of sessions, pupils (not
patients) are guided by teachers through a series of slow, gentle sequences of movements
designed to replace old, negative habits with new, positive ones. Private lessons are more
hands-on, while group lessons involve more floor work. Ideally, group lessons follow and
reinforce private instruction. At no time is any attempt made to alter the structure of
the body. Instead, a series of slow, nonaerobic, and often quirky and subtle movements are
repeated over and over, concentrating on only one body segment or joint at a time.
In sessions that last from 30-50 minutes, no rigid rules of posture or movement are
given, and each student is allowed to explore and experiment to find his or her own
optimal style of movement in the most comfortable and relaxed manner possible. The
important principle is that once a person becomes aware and learns a new, more efficient
and less stressful range of movements, the brain itself somehow seems to improve, making
the individual more aware in other aspects of life. Performers and athletes are among the
strongest supporters of this method, claiming both improved levels of performance and
enhanced personal growth.
Risks involved in Feldenkrais Method
All movements are light and easy and involve no strain whatsoever. There are virtually
no risks involved when studying with a certified Feldenkrais practitioner.
Normal results of Feldenkrais Method
Healthy students generally experience improved posture and relief of muscular tension
following a session. They also report better flexibility and coordination. This method is
also used to alleviate chronic pain, reduce stress and tension, and improve balance and
coordination. One-on-one sessions are especially beneficial for individuals