Why Moving Forward with the Feldenkrais Method

Movement is essential for healthy functioning. With limitations in movement, healthy function and daily activities are compromised. The Feldenkrais Method offers an effective means to improve posture, flexibility and coordination, and to help those with restricted movement, chronic tension and pain, neurological problems, and everyone wishing to live more comfortably. The Feldenkrais Method is a unique approach to human change, acclaimed for its ability to access the power of the brain to improve many areas of human functioning, and is uniquely suited to help elders improve improve their quality of life.

Feldenkrais Exercises or Awareness Through Movement ®

Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) exercises or ‘lessons’ are easy to do, of benefit to everyone, and the results can be immediate and profound. These unique exercises were developed as a means to re-engage the nervous system in the fundamental learning process we all have access to as children, but lose as we get older. The exercises are structured to take advantage of the natural neuroplasticity of the brain, through stimulating both the motor and learning centers. They employ innovative movement sequences that address every area of the body and all aspects of human motor function.

The Benefits of the Feldenkrais exercises are:

    • Ability to move more easily and comfortably.
    • Improved co-ordination, posture and flexibility.
    • Relief from aches and pains.
    • Reduced stress and improved relaxation.
    • Ability to restore lost function.
    • Renewed physical vitality, and emotional well-being.
    • Ability to avoid injury and recover more quickly from them.
    • Greater ease and pleasure in all your physical activities.
    • Improved fitness and agility of your brain.
    • Restored confidence in one’s balance and stability.

The Class Format and Content

Moving Forward with the Feldenkrais Method: Flexibility, Balance and Pain Relief for Seniors exercise program is based in part on Relaxercise: An Introduction to the Feldenkrais Method (HarperCollins) by David Zemach-Bersin and Mark Reese. Only certified Feldenkrais Practitioners will teach the classes, and the team of teachers will be trained directly by David Zemach-Bersin.

The exercises featured in the classes are designed especially for elder citizens, and are non-stressful, gentle, easy-to-do and comfortable. Feldenkrais exercises can be designed for any age group, and can be done while sitting in a chair, or while lying on exercise mats. The course curriculum is ideal for a 6 week series that meets twice a week, but we can design any format which meets the needs of your institution. Each session lasts approximately 45-60 minutes. Participants will need to wear comfortable clothing.

I am deeply impressed by the Feldenkrais exercises. I am 78 years old and can’t handle most exercise programs. But, the Feldenkrais exercises are the most effective, easy to follow system I have ever tried. It is amazing how quickly there is an improvement.

Edith Weiss

Moving Forward with the Feldenkrais Method

Senior Class Titles

    1. Easy Flexibility
    2. Low Back Comfort
    3. A Healthy Spine
    4. Relaxed Shoulders
    5. Your Power Center
    6. Better Balance I
    7. Full Breathing
    8. Flexible Feet
    9. Face and Jaw Relaxation
    10. Dynamic Sitting
    11. Easier Walking
    12. Better Posture

The lessons are designed to improve ability, that is, to expand the boundaries of the possible, to turn the impossible into the possible, the difficult into the easy and the easy into the pleasant. For only those activities that are easy and pleasant will be part of a person’s habitual life and serve them at all times.

Moshe Feldenkrais

The Feldenkrais Method has totally changed the way I see myself, especially in relation to pain. I went from using a wheelchair to walking two miles most every day. Most of my mental energy was focused on how to live with pain. Now I have extraordinary mental freedom, and each day I am finding new things that I can do.  

Margaret Fletcher, M.D,

Retired spokesperson and educator for the American Arthritis Foundation

who has had rheumatoid arthritis for 45 years

Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais has developed a system that is many years ahead of conventional medical understanding.

Martin Rossman, M.D., Author, ‘Healing Yourself’

 The Feldenkrais Method is a remarkable, quick, and effective way to alleviate muscular tension, pain, and discomforts.

James Rice, M.D.

 The Feldenkrais Method is an extraordinarily effective approach to the enhancement of posture, balance, movement and behavior.

Sandy Burkhart, PT, Ph.D.

 After suffering a serious stroke 10 years ago, my doctor told me I would never walk again. Thanks to the Feldenkrais Method I am still walking today.

Dora Good, M.A., School Teacher

Relevant Evidence Based Research on the Feldenkrais Method and Senior Citizens

(More studies available in our research archive)

 

Learning to Improve Mobility and Quality of Life in a Well Elderly Population: The Benefits of Awareness Through Movement. Feldenkrais Research Journal. 2, 17. 2005. Stephens, PhD, PT, CFP; J., Pendergast, BA, MPT; C., Roller, BA, BA, MPT, B.A.; & Weiskittel, BS, MPT R. S.

Objectives: This study tested the hypothesis that an alternative movement learning method, Awareness Through Movement, would produce improvements in coordination, mobility, economy of movement and quality of life in older adults.

Methods: A group of 31 older adults was studied using a prospective, repeated measures control group design. The SF-36 was used to assess health status – quality of life. Video motion analysis was used to collect data on walking and on a floor to stand transfer movement.

Results: Coordination of the transfer movement improved significantly in the experimental group. Vitality and mental health scores also improved significantly in this group. Interesting differences between young-old and old-old changes were observed.

Conclusions: Awareness Through Movement may be an additional effective method for pursing the objectives of healthy people.

 

Feldenkrais Method balance classes are based on principles of motor learning and postural control retraining: a qualitative study. Physiotherapy Dec 2010, Connors K, Galea M, Said, C, Remdios L.

Background: Feldenkrais Method® balance classes have been found to be effective in improving balance in recent studies, but there has been little research into possible mechanisms behind the effectiveness of these classes. Indeed there has been little research into the content of any balance training classes. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to analyse the content of a series of Feldenkrais Method balance classes to gain an understanding of how the results in these studies may have been achieved and the principles through which it may be effective. Design: Aqualitative research approach (content analysis) was used. Key findings were the extensive involvement of trunkflexibility and control in the balance activities and also the intensive attention to internal feedback, which was linked to body awareness training. Conclusion: The Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons contained many elements consistent with current theories of motor skill acquisition and postural control, providing a sound theoretical basis for the effectiveness of the Feldenkrais approach in improving balance.

 

Effects of Feldenkrais Exercises on balance, mobility, balance confidence and gait performance in community-dwelling adults age 65 and older. Journal of Complementary and Alternative Therapies, 16: 97-105, 2010, Ullmann G, Williams H, Hussey J, Durstine J, McClenaghan B.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine effects of Feldenkrais exercises in improving balance, mobility, and balance confidence in older adults.Methods: Participants (N = 47, mean age 75.6) were randomly assigned to a Feldenkrais group (FG, n = 25) or to a control group (CG, n = 22). Results: After completion of the program, balance (p = 0.030) and mobility (p = 0.042) increased while fear of falling (p = 0.042) decreased significantly for the FG group. Participants of the FG group showed improvements in balance confidence (p = 0.054) and mobility while performing concurrently a cognitive task (p = 0.067).

Conclusions: These results indicate that Feldenkrais exercises are an effective way to improve balance and mobility, and thus offer an alternative method to help offset age-related declines in mobility and reduce the risk of falling among community-dwelling older adults.

 

Getting Grounded Gracefully: effectiveness and acceptability of Feldenkrais in improving balance. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity 17(1): 57-76, 2009; Vrantsidis F, Hill K, Mooree K,Webb R, Hunt S, Dowson L.

The Getting Grounded Gracefully program, based on the Awareness Through Movement lessons of the Feldenkrais Method, was designed to improve balance and function in older people. Fifty five participants (mean age 75, 85% female) were randomised to the intervention (twice weekly group classes over 8 weeks) or the control group (continued with their usual activity). Significant improvement was identified for the intervention group relative to the control group for the Modified Falls Efficacy Scale score (p = 0.003) and gait speed (p = 0.028), and a strong trend evident in the Timed Up and Go (p = 0.056). High class attendance (88%) and survey feedback indicate that the program was viewed positively by participants and may therefore be acceptable to other older people.

 

Feldenkrais Method balance classes improve balance in older adults: a controlled trial. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Advance access published online 24 June 2009. Connors K, Galea M, Said C.

Objective: To investigate the effects of Feldenkrais Method balance classes on balance and mobility in older adults. Design: Prospective non-randomized controlled study with pre/post measures. Participants: Convenience sample of 26 community-dwelling older adults (median age 75 years) attending Feldenkrais Method balance classes formed the Intervention group. Thirty-seven volunteers were recruited for the Control group (median age 76.5 years. Results: At re-testing, the Intervention group showed significant improvement on all of the measures (ABC, p=0.016, 4SST, p=0.001, gait speed, p<0.001). The Control group improved significantly on one measure (4SST, p<0.001). Compared to the Control group, the Intervention group made a significant improvement in their ABC score (p=0.005), gait speed (p=0.017) and 4SST time (p=0.022). Conclusions: These findings suggest that Feldenkrais Method balance classes may improve mobility and balance in older adults.

 

Study of the effects of various forms of exercise on balance in older women. Unpublished Manuscript Healthway Starter Grant, File #7672, Dept of Rehabilitation, Sir Charles Gardner Hospital, Nedlands, Western Australia, 1999. Hall SE, Criddle A, Ring A, Bladen C, Tapper J, Yin R, Cosgrove A, Hu Yu-Li.

Abstract. People over the age of 65 account for 4% of all hospital admissions due to injuries sustained from falls. Frequency of falling increases with age. Exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on reducing the number of falls. This study compared the effects of Feldenkrais Method and Tai Chi to a no exercise control group on balance and mobility in a group of 59 randomly assigned, elderly women. Both TC and FM showed improvements in measures of quality of life, balance control, walking and activities of daily living compared to the control group.

 

Effects of Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement on Balance in Adults With Chronic Neurological Deficits Following Stroke: A Preliminary Study. Complementary Health Practice Review, Vol. 10 No. 3, October 2005 203-210 DOI: 10.1177/1533210105285516 ©2005 Sage Publications. Peer Reviewed. Batson G and Deutsch J.

The Feldenkrais Method is a complementary approach to motor learning that purports to induce change in chronic motor behaviors. This preliminary study describes the effects of a Feldenkrais program on balance and quality of life in individuals with chronic neuro¬logical deficits following stroke. Two male (48 and 53 years old) and 2 female partici¬pants (61 and 62 years old), 1 to 2.5 years post-stroke, participated as a group in a 6-week Feldenkrais program. Pretest and posttest evaluations of the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), the Dynamic Gait Index (DGI), and the Stroke Impact Scale (SIS) were administered. Data were analyzed using a Wilcoxon signed-rank test. DGI and BBS scores improved an average of 55.2% (p = .033) and 11% (p = .034), respectively. SIS percentage recovery improved 35%. Findings suggest that gains in functional mobility are possible for indi¬viduals with chronic stroke using Feldenkrais movement therapy in a group setting. Keywords: Feldenkrais; balance; stroke; complementary medicine. Instrumentation: Movement Imagery Questionnaire (MIQ) (Hall and Pongrac), Dynamic Gait Index (DGI) (Wrisley et al), Berg Balance Scale, Stroke Impact Scale (SIS), Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE) (Folstein et al)

 

The Effects of Six Week of Feldenkrais Method on Selected Functional Parameters in a Subject with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Physical Therapy 72: (suppl.) S86,1992. Narula, M., Jackson, O., Kulig, K.

Effect of Six Weeks of Awareness Through Movement Lessons on Selected Functional Movements Parameters in Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis (A Pilot Study Using Single Subject Case Study Design). Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science in Exercise Science, Oakland University, Rochester, MI: 1993. Narula, M.

In a study done with twenty-one subjects with RA who engaged in a series of Feldenkraisexercises, results showed a significant positive change in both the muscle activity and the perceived effort of the studied tasks. Two years after the study ended, a follow-up was done and a large percentage of subjects reported experiencing improved mobilityncreased function and continued to maintain higher levels of function than before participating in the study. In addition, a large percentage of study participants continued to use the skills that they had gained from doing the exercises, and felt that the Feldenkrais Method taught them new ways to reduce pain and discomfort before RA could progress to long term deformity and disability.

 

The Feldenkrais Method in the Treatment of Chronic Pain: A Study of Efficacy and Cost Effectiveness. American Journal of Pain Management 1999: 9:22-27. David Bearman, MD, and Steven Shafarman

 

Abstract: A preliminary study was undertaken to determine both the efficacy and cost effectiveness of the Feldenkrais Method for treatment of Medicaid recipients with chronic pain at the Santa Barbara Regional Health Authority (SBRHA), SBRHA staff wished to offer treatment for chronic pain patients beyond what is provided for in the Medicaid scope of benefits. Conventional intensive chronic pain treatment programs costs range from $7,000 to $30,000 and are not covered by regular Medicaid benefits. Patients with chronic headaches and/or musculoskeletal problems were enrolled in the study. Seven patients began the program: all completed it. Patient satisfaction, function, and perception of pain were evaluated by using the national Pain Data Bank (NPDB) protocol of the American Academy of Pain Management. Participants reported more mobility and decreased perception of the pain, both immediately after the program and in a one-year follow up questionnaire. Results compared quite favorably with NPDB comparison groups. Cost effectiveness calculations were based on Medicaid costs for one-year periods pre-and post-intervention. Patient costs dropped from an average of $141 per month to $82 per month. This represents a 40% savings.

For more related research, please visit our research archive.

 

Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc.

Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais’ method will be of great benefit to all of humanity.  From my own experience I know the remarkable results achieved.

David Ben-Gurion, First Prime Minister of Israel

The Feldenkrais Method was developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, (1904-1984), a distinguished physicist and engineer. Feldenkrais studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, and was a close associate of Nobel Laureate, Frederic Joliot-Curie, at the Curie Institute in Paris. In the early 1940’s, Feldenkrais found himself unable to walk due to a serious injury, and thus began an intense study of the relationship between movement, healing and learning. Feldenkrais not only restored his ability to walk, but also made revolutionary discoveries that culminated in the development of the method that bears his name.

The Feldenkrais Foundation

The Feldenkrais Foundation is devoted to promoting the Feldenkrais Method, supporting scientific research, as well as bringing the Feldenkrais Method to under served populations, such as seniors and victims of stroke. Activities include a low-fee clinic, and developing programs that use the Feldenkrais Method to remediate balance issues in the elderly, MS, scoliosis, and stroke recovery.

Feldenkrais Foundation Staff

Anat Meiri – Executive Director and Faculty

Anat Meiri has been a Feldenkrais Practitioner since 2009. She began her Feldenkrais Method Professional Training in 2003 in Berkeley, CA, and before that danced professionally with Rina Schinfeld Dance Theatre in Tel-Aviv, and with the Deborah Slater Dance Theatre Co., Papas and Dancers and the Peck-Peck Dance Ensemble.

David Zemach Bersin – Co-Founder, Program Director

David Zemach-Bersin studied closely with Dr. Feldenkrais from 1973-1984 and is the co-founder of The Feldenkrais Institute of New York. David is Director of the New York City, and Baltimore Feldenkrais Method Training Programs, and has presented the Feldenkrais Method widely. He is an Honors graduate of UC Berkeley, and the co-author of Relaxercise (HarperCollins),

Marek Wyszynski – Co-Founder, Clinical Director

Marek Wyszynski is a Physical Therapist, Feldenkrais Practitioner and past supervisor of the Pain Treatment Program at Lenox Hill Hospital. He is co-founder of the Feldenkrais Institute, and author of many articles, including ‘Feldenkrais Method for People with Chronic Pain’ in the journal of The American Academy of Pain Management.Marek is Director of Feldenkrais NYC, a member of Hospital for Special Surgery Rehabilitation Network.

 

The Feldenkrais Method is an incredible, quick and easy tool, and a must for anyone who suffers from chronic pain and tension, and loss of flexibility.

Alex Shester, M.D.

 

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