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The Feldenkrais® Method And Back Pain

Written by: Renate Prandl, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Stress, inflammation, degenerative or traumatic changes to the discs and facet joints, overweight, heavy lifting, or poor posture are amongst the root causes of back pain. Some estimate up to 95% of adults will experience it at some point in their life, and five out of 10 adults have it every year.


Probably you know what I am talking about.

I am very passionate to help people manage and probably even get rid of back pain in a doable, holistic, and sustainable way. Pairing the concepts of the Feldenkrais® Method with High-Performance Coaching™ tools is one of the secrets to living a more active, healthier, and potentially wealthier Life by Design.

What is The Feldenkrais Method®?


The Feldenkrais® Method is an educational approach based on neuroscience, physics, and sensory-motor learning that cultivates a better body awareness and helps you find new ways to move as effortlessly as possible.


Feldenkrais involves learning, which is different than mere training, exercising, or practicing. Dr.Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), an engineer and founder of the Feldenkrais Method, martial artist, and pioneer in neuroscience, was adamant about it. He felt that exercising for the sake of exercising had very little value if it did not engage the brain. He developed a system that used movement and perception while heightening awareness to help develop higher levels of skills.


There are 2 modalities:

  1. Functional Integration (FI) is a one-on-one hands-on approach.

  2. Awareness Through Movement (ATM) is for group settings.

Why use the Feldenkrais® Method, and what distinguishes it from traditional physical therapy?


Although there are many similarities between Feldenkrais® and PT with regards to motor learning, the difference is that the Feldenkrais® teacher does not direct the client’s learning by addressing a “correct” form or modeling a preferred way of doing a movement. Instead, we set up conditions for the student/client to learn by developing a better way to discriminate for themselves what is the best movement CHOICE. This allows the student to refer to their own sense of judgment and decide what is needed in times when there is no instructor.


A common feature of the Feldenkrais® Method is to REDUCE EFFORT or stress since this interferes in the learning process. Also, for learning something new, we need to proceed at our own speed.


Feldenkrais® sessions introduce us to non-intuitive understandings to improve by guiding one’s attention to small movements and to the subtle details of a movement. We are often lead to believe that if, at first, you don’t succeed, try harder. Force and effort can be added later on once the skill is acquired but can run interference when addressing new strategies that are different from our HABITS.


3 specific ways in which the Feldenkrais® Method can help people with back pain:


Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor nor a medical practitioner, so these are guidelines based on my own research, training, and working with clients dealing with back pain. They should not in any way be seen as medical advice or a substitute for medical care or treatment.


First and foremost, I strongly believe that back pain has to be seen in the context of a daily healthy lifestyle routine. If you add Feldenkrais® exercises to your routine and if you do them consistently during the day – whilst in the office, in a meeting, on a plane – the pain will go away (unless you have a trauma and need specific Feldenkrais® moves)

  • For a quick “rescue” fix (if you have NO other option), you can do small movements with the pelvis, watch your breathing and your posture. Download the free PDF of how to deal with back pain in an “emergency” situation. Here’s the link.

  • The Feldenkrais® Method does not “fix” the issue but helps you find better ways of everyday movement. Once you know what you are doing, you can change. What do I mean by that? If in a session you find out that your habitual posture is sitting and standing with more weight on one leg or one side of your butt, this side of the spine will get compressed over time, pinching nerves or letting disks bulge. A chiropractor can ease the pain, but if you don’t change your posture in sitting or standing, the back pain will come back. If you refine your symmetry (“neutral”), your muscle tone will change, the space between the vertebrae will even out, and you will have more freedom of movement with less or no pain J Sitting with ease, turning with ease. We are interested in improved function.

  • In the Feldenkrais® Method, we do not teach isolated stretches (muscular). The most recent studies do not show benefits with stretching for injury prevention, better performance, etc. We teach full body lengthening movements (skeletal). Create more space between the vertebrae, make vertebrae move (!), and make movements like turning or bending – which seem to get avoided when people experience back pain – more congruent and fluid.

Case study 1: Helen D.

Scenario: severe backache after years of poor posture, too much stress, the birth of triplets

Feldenkrais work (weekly): lots of small moves, lots of “rolling on the floor,” lengthening the spine, doing movements in a non-habitual way

Result: moved better, run better, and finished a SINGAPORE MARATHON (I did run with her to support her during the race, and we both finished without any injuries or back issues!!)


Case study 2: Siobhan D.A

Scenario: severe backache and very restricted movement after training too hard for triathlon

Feldenkrais work (weekly): starting with micro moves, going slow, resting in between to let the brain absorb and “download” new movement pattern (all traits of the Feldenkrais® Method), reversing some movements, doing some activities in imagination only

Result: competed in several TRIATHLONS without any problems and also improved her overall time due to better form in swimming and running J


Case study 3: Duncan J.

Scenario: low back pain was a concern as my client was to take part in a celebrity dancing on ice show in the UK.

Feldenkrais work (week intensive and homework): small moves, lots of rolling and turning, added ROLLERS for more special awareness and balance

Results: Made it to the grand final and came third in the contest. Has since been on stage again as a singer, as a lead in musicals on Broadway and London’s West End


Get your free pdf “Emergency Back Pain Survival Kit” here as my gift to you. Make a healthy back a lifestyle choice!


For more info, follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and visit my website.


 

Renate Prandl, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Renate Prandl is Asia's Premier Sustainable Life Mastery Strategist, Certified Feldenkrais® Expert, sports coach, mentor, and Certified High Performance™ coach. With over 40 years of combined experience as a Professor in a business school and entrepreneur, Renate uses a variety of proven techniques and applications to help you reach your highest potential, get to the Next Level, and potentially live your Life by Design - in a holistic, doable and sustainable way. Her "Power of 3" systems help you turn obstacles into stepping stones and build Physical, Emotional, Financial Resilience. Renate is the CEO of Body & Brain, Founder of Body And Brain Mastery, International Bestselling Author of 3 books, and has lived on 3 continents. Her mission: Anything is possible.

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