Feldenkrais Method® and Chronic Back Pain

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Chronic Back Pain

Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain

NY Times Oct 30, 2017 

Jane E. Brody


The Feldenkrais method is one of several increasingly popular movement techniques … that attempt to better integrate the connections between mind and body. By becoming aware of how one’s body interacts with its surroundings and learning how to behave in less stressful ways, it becomes possible to relinquish habitual movement patterns that cause or contribute to chronic pain.

Even after just one session . . When I make a point of walking upright and fluid, sitting straight . . . I have no pain. The slow, gentle, repetitive movements I practiced in a Feldenkrais group class helped foster an awareness of how I use my body in relation to my environment, and awareness is the first step to changing one’s behavior.

Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery

Cathryn Jakobson Ramin


The Feldenkrais Method is a postural approach that, by employing exercises in movement and encouraging the mind to reconnect with the body, helps individuals restore better physical function.

Feldenkrais Method Empowers Adults With Chronic Back Pain

Holistic Nursing Practice   May/June 2014, Volume :28 Number 3 , page 171 - 183

Pugh, JD


A phenomenological approach was used to explore the experiences of 11 adults attending Awareness Through Movement lessons in the Feldenkrais Method to manage chronic-episodic back pain. Semistructured interviews were analyzed. The results suggest improving self-efficacy through somatic education and awareness potentially offers a way forward given the back pain epidemic.

Feldenkrais method on neck and low back pain to the type of exercises and outcome measurement tools: A systematic review

Polish Annals of Medicine, November 2016

Vikram Mohan - Universiti Teknologi MARA, Aatit Paungmali - Chiang Mai University, Patraporn Sitilertpisan, Leonard Joseph,


Introduction: Feldenkrais method (FM) has been applied on a large number of people as an educational method to create awareness of themselves and of their own body postures.  ... Aim: This review aimed at determining the effect, type of exercises, duration and the outcome measure utilized in assessing the FM among individuals with neck and low back pain (LBP).  ... The review also determined type of exercises and outcome utilized in assessing the benefit of FM. Conclusions: Overall, judging from the increasing number of articles in recent years related to FM, this review reports sufficient evidence that FM is increasingly being used in the management of neck pain and LBP.


A dissertation presented to the Faculty of Saybrook University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology

Timothy J. Sobie

Available on ProQuest  November 2016


Back problems continue to be a leading cause for disability in all of medicine and are the number one symptom disorder for consulting integrative medicine practitioners. Feldenkrais® practitioners aim to clarify new functional interrelationships towards an improved neuroplasticity-based change in the cognitive construct of one’s own background body schema. These phenomena have been found to clinically correlate to chronic pain through concurrent distortions in the reorganization of usual sensory-motor cortical representations in the brain – being further associated with altered body perception (Wand et al., 2016). The Feldenkrais Method® (FM) is a comprehensive approach being manifested through manual sensory contact (FI®) techniques and movement experiences (ATM®) and has been anecdotally purported to improve symptoms and functions in chronic non-specific low back pain (CNSLBP). However, there is little scientific evidence to support superior treatment efficacy.

The effect of the Feldenkrais method on pain and anxiety in people experiencing chronic low back pain

New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy, 29(1): 6-14. 2001

Smith, A. L.; Kolt, Gregory S.; McConville, J.C.


The aim of this pilot investigation was to evaluate the Feldenkrais Method's effect on pain and state anxiety in people experiencing chronic low back pain. ... The Feldenkrais group experienced a 30-minute Awareness Through Movement session whilst the control group listened to a narrative of the same duration. ... Multivariate Analyses of Variance showed that the Feldenkrais intervention was effective in reducing the affective dimension of pain (p < .05), but not the sensory or evaluative dimensions, nor state anxiety. These findings are discussed in relation to previous research and some of the theoretical concepts assumed to underlie the Feldenkrais Method. The clinical implication of the findings involves the potential for the Feldenkrais Method to complement existing modes of pain management for people experiencing chronic low back problems.

Body Schema and Feldenkrais®: Effects Upon Subjects With Low Back Pain

Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 2013

Timothy J Sobie, Alliant Physical Therapy & Integral Medicine, PLLC


Back problems continue to be the number one symptom disorder for consulting complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners. Neuroscience continues to indicate that the human brain undergoes a process of somato-topic cortical reorganization in association with sustained states of chronic pain. Feldenkrais® practitioners aim to create individualized multimodal learning experiences that are believed to clarify an improved neuroplasticity-based change in the cognitive construct of one's own body schema. ... All subjects had a more balanced gait. Conclusions: Body schema–based somatic education interventions, like the Feldenkrais® method, deserve further investigation and do not appear to rely on treating the anatomical regions of perceived involvement directly.

Self-reported interoceptive awareness in primary care patients with past or current low back pain

Journal of Pain Research · May 2013

Jennifer Daubenmier, University of California, San Francisco; Cynthia Price, University of Washington, Seattle;

Elizabeth Bartmess, University of California, San Francisco, Anita L Stewart, University of California, San Francisco


Mind-body interactions play a major role in the prognosis of chronic pain, and mind-body therapies such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and Feldenkrais presumably provide benefits for pain patients. The Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) scales, designed to measure key aspects of mind-body interaction, were developed and validated with individuals practicing mind-body therapies, but have never been used in pain patients. ... Cross-sectional comparison between the two groups showed marked differences in eight aspects of interoceptive awareness.  ...Self-reported aspects of interoceptive awareness differ between primary care patients with past or current low back pain and mind-body trained individuals, suggesting further research is warranted on the question whether mind-body therapies can alter interoceptive attentional styles with pain.

A Three-Paradigm Treatment Model Using Soft Tissue Mobilization and Guided Movement Awareness Techniques for a Patient With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Case Study

Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, September 1997

Cottingham JT, Maitland J.


It is not uncommon for physical therapists to report difficulty in treating certain subjects with chronic idiopathic low back pain. The purpose of this case study is to present a three-paradigm model of intervention that may be adapted to the treatment of such cases. The model consists of: 1) relaxation paradigm, consisting of pain modulation procedures; 2) corrective paradigm, involving manual techniques and exercise to correct specific faulty biomechanical alignment(s) eg., pelvic asymmetry); and 3) integrative paradigm, utilizing guided movement/mobilization techniques for improving the subject's overall pattern of posture and movement. 

Wide Dimensions to Yoga Therapy: Comparative Approaches from Viniyoga, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, and the Feldenkrais Method®

International Journal of Yoga Therapy: 2002, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 25-38.

John Kepner (Viniyoga), Victoria Strohmeyer (Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy), Staffan Elgelid (Feldenkrais Method)


Three well-known but very different mind/body methodologies for working with individuals are presented in a common framework consisting of: definition, methodology, case studies, and credentialing requirements. Chronic lower back pain is the presenting symptom considered by all three. ... To promote understanding of divergent views, we believe it is instructive to present a set of short, complementary case studies that provide a common framework with which to begin to compare and contrast how therapists from different perspectives are actually working today.3 Feldenkrais® is not Yoga, but from the hazy focus on complementary and alternative therapies by many medical institutions today, it appears to be a similar mind/body intervention, and the teaching methodology itself may offer insight to Yoga teachers working one-on-one with clients.

A different way to relieve years of back pain

The Washington Post, September 27, 2018

Lisa Rein


In my first Feldenkrais class, we lay on our backs with eyes closed and drifted our eyeballs left to right and back again. We shifted our heads from side to side as our eyes followed in their sockets. Then we changed it up, moving our eyes in the opposite direction from our heads.

This may sound like a simple sequence. It’s deceptively challenging. And it continued for an hour, with sitting variations, eyes alternately open and shut, a brain workout that included tracking our thumbs as our bent arms moved at eye level from left to right and back again.

These eye calisthenics were supposed to relieve my years of back pain. ...  And at the end of that first class, I was surprised: I felt a little different, lighter. I could turn my neck a bit more to the left. My right hip moved more freely.  ...  as Moshé Feldenkrais ... writes in his book, “Awareness Through Movement,” “The eyes are not only for seeing.”  Like shifting the shoulders, ankles, pelvis, spring and limbs in certain ways, exercising your eyes can improve the organization of the entire trunk, he writes, by moving in ways that are not habitual and make you aware of how other parts of your body respond.  ...  The brain, he maintained, can be retrained to reorganize the way we move our bodies, eliminating unnecessary and harmful patterns.

Improved interoceptive awareness in chronic low back pain: a comparison of Back school versus Feldenkrais method

Disability and Rehabilitation, Volume 39, 2017 - Issue 10

Teresa Paolucci, Federico Zangrando, Marco Iosa, Simona De Angelis, Caterina Marzoli, Giulia Piccinini & Vincenzo Maria Saraceni

Complex Unit of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Policlinico Umberto Hospital, Rome, Italy


To determine the efficacy of the Feldenkrais method for relieving pain in patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP) and the improvement of interoceptive awareness. ... The efficacy of the Feldenkrais method is comparable with that of BS for nonspecific chronic low back pain. The physician can recommend a body–mind rehabilitation approach, such as the Feldenkrais method, or an educational and rehabilitation program, such as BS, to the patient, based on his individual needs. The 2 rehabilitation approaches are equally as effective in improving interoceptive awareness.

Your Guide To Coping With Back Pain

McClelland and Stewart, 1985

Judylaine Fine

Chapter 23: The Feldenkrais Method: The Israeli Connection

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