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Feldenkrais Method – Origin, Benefits, Efficacy, And Methodology
Almost half the population of the United States has used some form of complementary and alternative medicine. It was found that in 2010, U.S. health care consumers spent US$31 billion in direct payments to practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine. Among these providers, the practitioners of the Feldenkrais Method are also counted.1
What Is The Feldenkrais Method? Where Did It Originate?
Feldenkrais Method was developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais. It is a gentle form of exercise which has been demonstrated to be effective for elderly people with limited movement.2
Dr. Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was an Israeli scientist and a Judo master. He was the first to take an interest in human movement from the perspective of a dynamics system.
- He developed the approach by combining his understanding of human movement with his martial arts training and extensive reading from Eastern and Western texts.
- Currently, more than thousands of registered Feldenkrais Method practitioners work in around 20 countries.
- The lessons are based on the principles of martial arts but they cover all aspects of human movement.
A fundamental principle of the Feldenkrais Method is that the processes of thinking, seeing, feeling, doing, and sensing are interrelated aspects of human movement. Thus, addressing one process requires addressing all other processes.
What distinguishes Feldenkrais Method from other mainstream approaches to the improvement of movement is its concept called unity of mind and body.3
How Is The Feldenkrais Method Beneficial?
People seek Feldenkrais Method for variety of reasons:
- To help recover faster from injury
- To help manage chronic conditions
- To boost performance
- To improve balance
- To treat post-stroke functional limitations
- To treat chronic low back dysfunction
- To improve musculoskeletal conditions
- To help manage multiple sclerosis
- To help in pain management1
Studies/Research On The Efficacy Of Feldenkrais Method
Recent studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the Feldenkrais Method in improving balance in the elderly.2
How Is The Feldenkrais Method Performed?
The Feldenkrais Method is taught in two parallel forms:
- Awareness Through Movement – This form is held as a group exercise.
- Functional Integration – This form is held as a one-on-one session.
Awareness through Movement lessons involve verbally-guided explorations of movement that last for around 30-60 minutes.
- In each lesson, a type of movement associated with a specific function, such as walking, is explored.
- This boosts one’s awareness of how one performs these movements.
- Next, it allows the person to investigate how to expand their action and ability to function.
By the exploration of new patterns of movement, the person may find out parts of himself or herself that he or she was not aware of previously, and may have excluded from their functioning.2
This method has 3 aims:
- Raised self-awareness
- Expansion of one’s range of movement
- Improved functioning
The goal is to make the entire body cooperate in movement and achieve maximum efficiency with minimum effort.2
The Moving With Ease program is a part of Awareness Through Movement lessons.
- They are quite suitable for people with osteoarthritis because they are very gentle and help manage pain.
- They also help the body move easily.
- The classes are self-explanatory by nature.
- The participants become aware of how they move and they strive to reduce their functional limitations.2
How Can People Get Started With The Feldenkrais Method?
Typically, the students undertaking the lessons of the Feldenkrais Method are called clients, instead of patients.
In order to become a certified Feldenkrais Teacher, the educational process is guided by international standards.
- The coursework for the Feldenkrais Professional Training Programs includes at least 800 hours.
- The course is distributed over 3-4 years in order to help the student gain significant experience with respect to:
- The range of lessons
- The development of teaching skills
- Interdisciplinary study
- Teachers who teach these courses have credentials as Certified Feldenkrais Assistant Trainers and Certified Feldenkrais Trainers.
- Only teachers with credentials as Certified Feldenkrais Trainers can become educational directors for training programs.
Teachers may have a wide variety of backgrounds, experiences, and credentials.1
Any Precautions, Contraindications, Or Interactions
Adverse effects such as falls or injuries are rare with the Feldenkrais Method.3
1. Buchanan PA, Nelsen NL, Geletta S. United States Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teachers®: a survey of characteristics and practice patterns. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jul 2;14:217. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-14-217. PubMed PMID: 24985488; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4086994.
2. Webb R, Cofré Lizama LE, Galea MP. Moving with ease: feldenkrais method classes for people with osteoarthritis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:479142. doi: 10.1155/2013/479142. Epub 2013 Sep 3. PubMed PMID: 24078825; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3776373.
3. Connors KA, Galea MP, Said CM. Feldenkrais method balance classes improve balance in older adults: a controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:873672. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nep055. Epub 2011 Mar 8. PubMed PMID: 19553385; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3137762.