Feldenkrais Method Teaches Therapeutic Movement

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By Deborah Thomas, Staff Writer

Awareness of your body's movement and how it communicates with your brain are the main foci of the Feldenkrais Method®. This healing art and movement education process may help people deal with cancer treatment-related side effects.

Method retrains body

The Feldenkrais Method was conceived by Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), a physicist and martial artist, mainly to recover from his own sports-related knee injury in the 1920s. He learned to decrease pain and improve performance when he paid attention to how his body moved.

Prior to his findings, most people believed it was difficult to retrain the body to do an already-learned activity once a person reached a certain age. But, Feldenkrais concluded the brain continues to develop throughout life and retains the ability to relearn. His findings have been confirmed by research in neuroscience.

Movement is relearned
MaryBeth Smith, director of the Feldenkrais Center of Houston, teaches free Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes for patients and caregivers at M. D. Anderson's Place ... of wellness.

When she works with a student, Smith says, she doesn't dwell on what hurts or what obstacles are in the way. Instead she discovers what brings pleasure to that person. Through being aware of movement, the student learns to perform everyday actions (for instance, gardening, singing or just being comfortable) using a new pattern that works better with current life circumstances.

Best way to move is individual
"Feldenkrais is different from physical therapy," she says. "We're not trying to fix something that is 'wrong' or to conform to an ideal.

 "We gently assist the person to find his or her own best way to move, and it may not be like anyone else's. Improvement in strength, flexibility and range of motion often result." Once the student finds the ideal movement for what he or she is trying to accomplish, the activity is relearned and incorporated into everyday living.

Awareness Through Movement at Place ... of wellness is underwritten by the C. G. Jung Educational Center, Houston, through funding by The Houston Endowment.

M. D. Anderson resources
Place ... of wellness

Integrative Medicine Program at M. D. Anderson

Additional resources
The Feldenkrais Center of Houston

The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education (The Feldenkrais Education Foundation of North America)

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