The Feldenkrais Method - Alleviate pain and tension through somatic education

Friday, April 13, 2012 by: Kiva Bottero
Tags: Feldenkrais, pain, posture

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(NaturalNews) Just as we develop social habits such as smoking or arguing, our body develops habits such as poor posture and tension. Feldenkrais is a method of somatic education that uses simple movements to experience the body within and undo these bodily habits through enhanced self-awareness. The Feldenkrais Method leads to improved posture, flexibility, coordination and a reduction in tension and pain. It's a safe, simple, and effective practice that anyone can do.

Awareness through movement

Theory aside, Feldenkrais operates on two practical levels. The most common approach is Awareness Through Movement (ATM) classes. In these classes an instructor guides clients through a series of 
movements that would best be considered explorations. The movements are simple and slow. They are not designed to be physically challenging movements that provide any sort of physical health benefit. Rather, they are designed to increase self-awareness.

In one example, a slow turning of the head from side to side gives clients an opportunity to 
become aware of that particular movement and how it relates to what they're thinking and feeling. It's a movement we unconsciously do many times in the day, so by consciously uncovering what's going on, a
 self-awareness of the body-mind emerges that can reduce pain and improve movement.

As awareness increases, people begin to feel things in their bodies that they had never felt before. A tension in the left shoulder causes the muscles to tighten, pulling the left side higher than the 
right. Armed with that information, it also becomes possible for people to realize that the physical tension in their jaw originates from their left shoulder. With practice, a person can discover that their 
tension is simply melting away through awareness.

Functional integration

Feldenkrais also has a bodywork component to it. In these one-on-one Functional Integration sessions, a trained practitioner helps a client learn more efficient ways of moving by applying precise touch in
combination with the client's focused awareness on the movement.

Scientific evidence

Scientific studies have confirmed Feldenkrais' efficacy. In one randomized controlled trial, participants complaining of neck and shoulder pain and disability were divided into a Feldenkrais group, a 
physiotherapy group, and a control group. The participants in the Feldenkrais group experienced less complaints after the 16-week trial. The physio group experienced the same level of complaints and the control group, more.

Studies into neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain and nervous system to change functionally and structurally based on input, have further proven the effectiveness of somatic education practices such as 

Though Feldenkrais seems abstract, it's a process that works, particularly for stress-related conditions that cause chronic muscular problems.


- The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education (http://www.feldenkrais.com/method/frequently_asked_questions/)

- Randomized Controlled Trial of Physiotherapy and Feldenkrais Interventions in Female Workers with Neck-Shoulder Complaints - SpringerLink (http://www.springerlink.com/content/p140qq2036hq8jq1/)

- Feldenkrais Centre (http://www.feldenkraiscentre.com)

About the author:
UB Hawthorn edits and writes for the Engaged Living Network. You can find him online at
The Mindful Word, Green Home Gnome, Green Building Canada and Greenhouse Gnome.

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