The Feldenkrais Method® and Physical Therapy as an Alternative Form of Treatment of Poorly Managed Patients with Chronic Pain
Barclay Physical Therapy is one of few rehabilitation centers in the region that offers Feldenkrais® in conjunction with physical therapy for pain relief. Founder, Meena Narula, is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner. She views Feldenkrais as, “having a conversation with our body.” Meena became interested in the technique to ease her own rheumatoid arthritis. Since incorporating Feldenkrais,® she has regained flexibility she once had as a young dancer, despite bone X-rays indicating damage that makes her physicians marvel over her painless movements.
Feldenkrais Method was developed in the mid 1900’s by Physicist and Mechanical Engineer; Moshe Feldenkrais, PhD (1904-1984), as a way provide chronic pain relief with minimal reliance on prescription medication. Synthesizing his knowledge of biomechanics, athletics, and an empirical understanding of human development, Dr. Feldenkrais successfully taught himself to walk, climb and squat again without pain after suffering from a crippling knee surgery.
By focusing on mind- body awareness, learning how to move more easily through movement re-education, breaking brain triggering habits, along with learning how to respond in less stressful ways, the Feldenkrais Method® helps to free tightened muscles and joints, increase range of motion, improve flexibility, enhance balance and coordination, decrease tension and reduce chronic pain. The Feldenkrais Method® guides the individual through a series of specially designed movement sequences to promote the ease of motion during functional activities such as rising from a chair, walking, and running, turning and bending. These deliberate micro-movements, for example, helps one to consciously experience the way the spine flexes and extends.
This innovative two-part “body education” program teaches individuals to live more comfortably through the systemic correction of faulty postural habits and movement patterns that create pain and disability. The plasticity of the brain allows one to re-learn how to do things through self-discovery and repetition.
The first part of the method, Awareness through Movement, consists of a trained Feldenkrais® practitioner examining the natural movements of a patient through sensory exploration and experimentation. The instructor helps patients identify each person’s optimal, individualized style by introducing movement relationships among the various body parts in a variety of orientations. The practitioner may ask patients to lie on the floor, sit in a chair, or kneel, and then observe how they come to stand. The instructor will then offer the individual new approaches for arriving to the upright position through verbal cues. The emphasis is on learning which strategies work better and noticing the quality of these changes on the body. Clients learn to relax and abandon habitual patterns while adopting new alternatives.
The second part of the program is Functional Integration, where learning is communicated by slow, gentle manipulations and passive movements. Comfortably clothed, the patient lies or sits on a low padded table. The practitioner guides the patient through a series of precise movements that relax tender areas. The movements alter habitual patterns and provide new information directly to the neuromuscular system.
By listening to what the patient’s body is telling them, the individual becomes conscious of how one’s skeleton, muscles, and joints can effectively interact together to work equally with one another, so that no one body part is stressed more than the other.
At Barclay Physical, Founder Meena Narula is a certified Feldenkrais® Guild practitioner and Jessica Folk, MPT and Kathy Yax, PTA are trained under Meena Narula and have been incorporating the Feldenkrais Method® with physical therapy to patients for the past twenty years. Success has been reported by numerous patients suffering from orthopedic and neurological conditions that cause pain or limit mobility (like arthritis, stroke, fibromyalgia, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome and whiplash), as well as in athletes who need to recover lost function.
Feldenkrais, alone, may not cure pain, but helps people become more active and regain a better quality of life. Feldenkrais is often covered by insurance when it is included in a broader physical therapy program. If you would like to determine whether your patient will benefit from Feldenkrais® in conjunction with physical therapy, please call our office in Rochester Hills at 248-853-5853 to schedule a complimentary assessment.