Feldenkrais Method® and Multiple Sclerosis
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The Feldenkraid Method and Multiple Sclerosis originally published in QUEST/78 magazine
Paul and Julie are Educational Directors of their Professional Training Programs
My trouble is a demyelinating disease commonly referred to as multiple sclerosis. ... In short, an infant's reflexive movement develops into intentional movement, and intentional movement quickly becomes habitual. The infant laboriously learns to stand and then to walk. But as soon as such actions are learned they become "automatic." The infant merely punches up STAND or WALK on his motor cortex to trigger a complex series of habitual movements. Feldenkrais has an exact understanding of this learning process: the order of it, its fine and gross components, the basic neurological "pathways of preference" relating limb to head, eye to pelvis, hip to shoulder, and so on. These subtle relationships determine the way all human movement is initiated and learned, and it is Feldenkrais' remarkable understanding of them that enables him to reprogram the minds not only of "normally" functioning individuals but also of those, as Rubin puts it, "whose cortical library of learned information has been destroyed or has become inaccessible."
Norton Healthcare, Louisville, Southern Indiana and Kentucky, July 2, 2019
Jackie was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1977. Back then, patients with MS were told not to exercise because it was thought that the increase in body temperature during exercise made MS symptoms worse. Today, exercise is known to be beneficial for patients with MS, and Jackie is open to anything that might help her. She’s tried supplements, medications, swimming and other forms of exercise like yoga. Feldenkrais, a technique that improves function and movement through greater body awareness, is a therapy that Jackie added to her care regimen about three years ago. ... Since attending regular one-on-one sessions ... and participating in the Feldenkrais class, Jackie is walking better, getting up from the floor more easily and is free from neck and shoulder pain.
SenseAbility, Thursday, December 1, 2016
Beth Rubenstein, GCFP, M.S., P.T.
Beth Rubenstein has several resources available on her website: https://bethrubenstein.com/
The Feldenkrais Method explores how the brain and our nervous system can change. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease
that affects the brain and the nervous system. Here’s why I find the Feldenkrais Method to be beneficial to those with
Multiple Sclerosis: Since we know that MS can affect any part of the nervous system that is covered with myelin (the “insulation”
covering nerves), any approach to increase function must involve the whole person. That makes the Feldenkrais Method a good match; not only because it connects one part of the body to others, but because it involves little to no stress, energy use, pain, or sweat. It can lower an over-heated body temperature by relaxing the “fight or flight” system. ... The combination of awareness and flexibility is very powerful in combating the effects of this disease. Using muscles to move rather than to support will improve range of motion and aid in increasing energy. Initiating motion from the large muscles closer to the center of our bodies will allow for a more proportional distribution of movement, thus allowing energy and strength conservation, two major concerns for MS patients.
Short section of an interview completed on Future Life Now - Feldenkrais Awareness Summit
Full interview available at futurelifenow-online.com.
Beth Rubenstein, GCFP, M.S., P.T.
Also available at : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF9ekFcTkfk&feature=youtu.be
Beth Rubenstein, Physical Therapist and Feldenkrais Practitioner explores the importance of movement and awareness in taking charge even with multiple sclerosis (MS) in this snippet from the Feldenkrais Awareness Summit.
Relias Media, Morrisville, NC, US, January 2002
Alan D. Forker, MD, FACC , Professor of Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine
This review will focus on the Feldenkrais method (of bodywork); the Alexander technique and Trager approach will be described briefly. All three are best utilized in the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders; but they also have been used in headaches, chronic lung disease, Ménière’s disease, and mental depression. ... Feldenkrais methods encourage a life-long discovery process through which patients learn why they have pain and distress while they learn how to become more aware and promote self-healing. ... For willing, interested patients with low back pain or other forms of muscular soreness and pain; movement disorders associated with cerebral palsy, Parkinsonism, or multiple sclerosis; or post-stroke disability, consider the Feldenkrais method and massage.
Use of Awareness Through Movement Improves Balance and Balance Confidence in People with Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Study
Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: 2001
Stephens, James PT, PhD; DuShuttle, Dominique MS, PT; Hatcher, Carla MS, PT; Shmunes, Jenifer MS, PT; Slaninka, Christine MS, PT
This study examined the effectiveness of a structured, group motor learning process, Awareness Through Movement (ATM), on balance, balance confidence, and self-efficacy. Twelve people with multiple sclerosis were randomly assigned to either ATM or control groups. The ATM group participated in 8 classes, 2 to 4 hours each while the control group participated in educational sessions, over 10 weeks. Six outcome measures were used: the Basic Balance Master modified Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction in Balance (mCTSIB) and Limits of Stability tests; the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale; a number of prospective falls; Equiscale; and the Multiple Sclerosis Self-Efficacy Scale. The ATM group exhibited significantly improved mCTSIB scores indicating an average center of pressure position closer to theoretical center, had significantly fewer abnormal mCTSIB tests, and demonstrated improved balance confidence compared to controls. There was a trend toward improvement in all other measures in the ATM group compared to controls. These results suggest that this type of motor learning intervention can be effective in improving a variety of physical and psychological parameters related to balance and postural control.
(in German - Google can translate)
Helga Bost, Dipl.Feldenkrais pedagogue, St. Wendel / FRG
The Feldenkrais Method ® offers humans a possibility at any time to resume the process of organic learning of his life as it spontaneously happens in small children up to 4-5 years, in a sensually researching way to discover themselves and their environment in a safe, quiet atmosphere, curious, alert, open for everything new. ... The statistical evaluation of the surveys and interviews at the beginning and at the end psychological tests showed that the participants made a clear statement for themselves positive change in experience and behavior. Your general Feeling had improved, as well as the way she was with her Disease passed: they showed less brooding behavior and could confidently and openly looking ahead and also towards the environment. Mental and psychosomatic complaints diminished,
Neurology Care, April 2011
Dr. A.C. Bowling, Physician Associate at the Colorado Neurological Institute and Clinical Professor of Neurology at the University Colorado
The University of North Carolina, involving 20 people with MS, found no improvement in many MS symptoms or overall level of function. Feldenkrais did reduce stress and anxiety in this study. The research concerning its effectiveness is limited, but some studies suggest reduced anxiety, decreased levels of stress, and improvement in neck flexibility are possible with Feldenkrais.
A short film by Brad Beldner, 2016
Available on YouTube
A story of a woman and how a change in diet and using Feldenkrais how helped improve her multiple sclerosis. The story is narrated by her young son.
Multiple Sclerosis News Today, August 22, 2016
Patricia Silva, PhD in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases from the Leiden University Medical Center
in Leiden, The Netherlands
... like many other people, I have MS and have to live with fatigue, cognitive issues, trouble walking, and so much more — often at the same time.
As in so many cases, “everyone” recommends EXERCISE. This is especially hard for those of us who have never exercised and never cared to do so. ... One of the most peculiar aspects of a Feldenkrais class is that you actually spend a lot of time laying on a foam mat. Believe me, it is work. The goal is to pay attention to your body. ... With Feldenkrais, I found the right exercise for the capabilities I have, despite MS. It has also shown me, to my continual surprise, that I CAN do things I thought I could not and to think of alternatives when I find myself stuck. I now believe that I will not become wheelchair-bound (I hope) because I have changed and learned to move.
A method that emphasizes moving with as little effort as possible can make walking and other physical tasks easier.
Everyday Health, May 2016
By Cathy Cassata, Medically Reviewed by Samuel Mackenzie, MD, PhD
Moving more easily with less pain is high on the list for many people with multiple sclerosis (MS). But if you’ve tried various exercises only to find you’ve put more stress on your body instead of less, you might want to consider the Feldenkrais Method. ... While Feldenkrais movements are not like traditional exercises and are not aerobic, they can have similar effects on the body, such as increasing the production of synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant inside the joints. Practicing Feldenkrais movements can also promote better circulation, improved respiratory function, and better coordination and balance. It can also help to change habitual ways of moving or holding the body that contribute to pain by presenting the brain with alternatives.
Modern Day MS, September 2015
by Teisha Rose
Recently I wrote an article sharing how over the years I have become more proactive in my journey with multiple sclerosis. Part of this shift has been exploring different approaches to my wellbeing; trying to minimize the impact of MS and maximize my functioning. ... Feldenkrais can be of great benefit to people who have neurological issues such as stroke, traumatic brain Injury, multiple sclerosis and parkinson’s disease. ... In 2003 and 2006, I experienced two aggressive relapses that significantly impaired my mobility. On both occasions, after leaving rehab, I had individual lessons with a Feldenkrais Practitioner. During these lessons, the practitioner gently guided my movement as I lay on a table, sat on a chair or moved around the room. During these sessions I experienced a new awareness of my body’s functioning. This increased the freedom of movement in my walking, decreased the tension (and pain) I had in my back, made balancing when experiencing vertigo easier, and functioning with numb fingers possible.
Healthy Place - For Your Mental Health, February 2016
An online journal
Professional staff writers, reviewed by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School with final editing approved by Natural Standard.
Recently, the Feldenkrais Method has been studied as a means to improve muscle and joint pain, to improve quality of life in chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, and to reduce anxiety levels. ... The Feldenkrais Method is based on the concept that improving patterns of movement may enhance overall physical and psychological performance or recovery from disabling conditions. ... The goals of Awareness Through Movement are to increase awareness of what types of movements work best for a participant, to find sequences of movement to replace uncomfortable or habitual patterns and to improve flexibility and coordination. ... Early evidence suggests that steadiness and comfort with daily movements, depression, anxiety, self-esteem and overall quality of life may improve in patients with multiple sclerosis who use Feldenkrais bodywork or participate in Awareness Through Movement sessions.
"From light and sound to electricity and motion, these non-invasive techniques featured in The Brain's Way of Healing, by Dr. Norman Doidge, M.D., provide promising insight into our brain's ability to rebound and heal from disease and injury."
Featured on: The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), February 2017
Includes a short video of Moshe Feldenkrais working with a young girl.
Feldenkrais Method (Functional Integration) What is it? Feldenkrais functional integration lessons involve private sessions tailored to each person’s needs. Gentle non-invasive touch is usually performed with the student laying on a table. It’s a hands-on form of tactile, kinesthetic communication. While a massage therapist works with muscle and a chiropractor works with bones, these touch therapists work with the nervous system. Sessions happen with a therapist, but the Feldenkrais Method can be taught in groups. Who is it for? Cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, children born missing parts of the brain. Why do scientists think it works? The method is based on the fact that neural pathways to and from the brain are spread throughout the body. Feldenkrais believed that increasing our awareness of movement is key to refining our brain maps for movement. Many people with strokes or cerebral palsy develop spastic limbs that can't move, making it difficult for them to develop mental maps to control fine movement. When a person is relaxed, touch and simple movements make it easier for the brain to create the mental maps needed to start moving properly. In essence, it’s using the body to talk to the brain through soft touch.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
In addition to being essential to general health and well-being, exercise is helpful in managing many MS symptoms. ... studies have confirmed the benefits of exercise, including improvement in cognitive function and mood enhancement. Inactivity in people with or without MS can result in numerous health problems ... Mind/body techniques like those used in yoga and Tai chi and visualization techniques like those used in Feldenkrais, enhance the body’s ability to make adjustments to movement execution, possibly enabling the body to adapt to its sometimes-changing ability levels as affected by MS. Living with MS can mean change and stress, which can deplete an individual both emotionally and physically, potentially increasing fatigue. Physical activity acts as a form of stress management. Yoga, Tai Chi, aquatics, Pilates and Feldenkrais can can assist in lowering levels of harmful stress hormones that may be impacting the immune system.
MS Focus magazine
By MSF Staff (based on the published book: The Nia Technique: The High-Powered Energizing Workout that Gives
You a New Body and a New Life, By Debbie and Carlos Rosas, 2005)
Regardless of age, gender, or physical ability, Nia has something wonderful in store for you! Nia has been practiced internationally since the 1980s and is incorporated into fitness and health programs, including college drama departments, prisons, drug and cardiac rehabilitation centers. It has been used as a psycho-social program for treating eating disorders, mental illness, survivors of sexual and physical abuse, and those with autism, Down syndrome and chronic illnesses. Yet, Nia is not well-known. Nia is an expressive movement practice that utilizes your entire being to attain physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Nia is to exercise what holistic medicine is to healthcare. An acronym for Neuromuscular Integrative Action, Nia is based on the belief that there is a dancer, martial artist, and highly aware person within each of us. It is a fusion of the martial arts, the healing arts, and the dance arts. ... Moves inspired by Moshe Feldenkrais are performed both slowly and quickly. Awareness and sensation offer a gateway to positive change within the body. Focus is on breath, voice, circulation, the five senses, rhythm, and emotions stuck in the body.
Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, Volume 44, Number 10, October 2012
Jaana Paltamaa, PhD, PT, JAMK University of Applied Sciences, School of Health and Social Studies, Jyväskylä, Finland
Tuulikki Sjögren, PhD, PT, Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
Sinikka H. Peurala, PhD, PT, Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
Ari Heinonen, PhD, PT, Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
To determine the effects of physiotherapy interventions on balance in people with multiple sclerosis. ... These findings indicate small, but significant, effects of physiotherapy on balance in people with multiple sclerosis who have a mild to moderate level of disability. ... inspection of the results based on the authors’ analyses, as reported in the original articles, indicated a significant effect of Awareness Through Movement (Feldenkrais) groups on the modified Clinical Test of Sensory Interaction in Balance (mCTSIB) and ABC scale compared with educational sessions ... In addition, both cycling progressive resistance training and a home-exercise programme reduced FES and Feldenkrais-based group therapy yielded significant improvements in balance confidence (ABC-scale). ... we recommend further interventions focusing on fall prevention in people with MS.
The Feldenkrais Journal, 2016
Feldenkrais Guild® of North America
A short edited video documentation of Intimacy is available for viewing at:
The most recent work I directed is a dance theatre piece called Intimacy. ... I used the Feldenkrais Method to assist me in many aspects of the creation . . . Each morning we began rehearsals with an Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lesson ... At the heart of the work is Michelle Ryan ... At 30, at the peak of her professional dance career, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). ... To be able to see Michelle's physical disabilities as a constraint within which to discover and unearth new possibilities provided us with unlimited creative freedom ... With the Feldenkrais Method as a guide in the creation and development of Intimacy, I was able to support my very great friend Michelle be back on stage doing what she does so expertly; dancing and performing and inspiring others .
Feldenkrais Guild® of North America, February 8, 2018
by Ingrid Willenz-Isaac, GCFP
Some of my touching elicits more toe twitches, puzzlingly not even always in the foot I’m touching. My mind flashes back to the first practicum
of my training when a young woman diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis approached my table. “Don’t get hypnotized by her diagnosis,
look at her organization!” was my trainer’s quick advice then. It was sound advice. ... Interest in the movement challenges of Multiple Sclerosis motivates me to do a little research, not in order to gain a full and comprehensive understanding of the condition, but enough so I can be a friendly, aware partner in the neural dance that is a Functional Integration® (FI®) lesson. ... Looking for Feldenkrais resources to help me think about movement and balance in the context of MS, I turn to an eight-part video series from the Amherst Evening Lessons made available through the International Feldenkrais Federation.
For Feldenkrais Practitioners only
International Feldenkrais Federation
Series of videos of Moshe Feldenkrais providing FI®'s on clients with Multiple Sclerosis
Article on the Feldenkrais Guild UK website
Susan Dillon (Feldenkrais Practitioner), President of the Cambridge Department of the Multiple Sclerosis Society in England
I came to know the Feldenkrais Method many years before MS (Multiple Sclerosis) came into my life. It was the appearance of the symptoms
of my first big MS episode in 1994 that finally moved me to take the plunge into the 4-year Feldenkrais training, and, as it turns out, a lifetime
commitment to the Method ... What I finally hit upon, for me, was that I taught my Feldenkrais ATM classes .. and of course teaching the classes meant that I had to prepare the classes and thereby spend a good bit of time each week going through the class that I was planning to teach that week. When I stopped teaching the classes, I ceased practicing the ATMs. Then I would have an episode and it would take several months before I could get myself back into the habit of practicing ATMs.
Feldenkrais Guild® of North America, June 15, 2012
by Susan Dillon, GCFP
Maintaining mobility is a concern for everyone, especially as we age, but for people with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) concerns about mobility may unfortunately come much earlier in life. ... I’ve thought carefully about my situation for a long time and I’m finally ready to tell my story, and share what I think are the connections between MS and the Feldenkrais Method. The most useful thing the Feldenkrais Method has taught me is to recognize small differences that are signals for when my nervous system is stressed, which subsequently leads to a worsening of my condition. When I sense those small differences, I put my life on hold and REST. Sometimes the recovery takes a few days, sometimes longer, and now I try to recognize even the smallest beginnings of those differences, resulting in a shorter recovery time.
Lower Extremity Review (on-line magazine), March 2013
Kurt Jackson PT, PhD, GCS, and Kimberly Edginton-Bigelow, PhD, University of Dayton in Dayton, OH
... abnormalities in balance have long been recognized as among the most common problems associated with MS and are often reported as the first symptoms of the disease. ... Problems with balance and postural control have been found in even minimally impaired individuals with MS. ... In a randomized controlled trial, Stephens et. al. measured changes in balance and balance confidence in patients with MS who had completed eight classes of Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Training (ATM). ... Following such training, study participants showed significant improvements on several measures of postural control, which were assessed using a force plate, and increased balance confidence as measured by the Activities-specific Balance Confidence Scale (ABC). ... Kickboxing is another novel activity. ... Although evidence of the therapeutic value of kickboxing is limited, the types of movements and activities that are common to kickboxing have been supported by a relatively large body of balance training research in older adults.
University of California San Francisco, Health (on-line)
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center
If you have multiple sclerosis (MS), exercise can help retain flexibility and balance, promote cardiovascular fitness and a sense of well-being, and prevent complications from inactivity. Exercise also helps regulate appetite, bowel movements and sleep patterns. ... You and a physical therapist should develop an individualized exercise program that is based on your current needs and future goals. This may include yoga, exercises in a gym, tai chi or Feldenkrais, as well as traditional forms of exercise.
Medic OK, The Best Side of Health, an on-line medical magazine, Netherlands, 2018
In Dutch - Google can translate.
The Feldenkrais method can help to change the usual ways of moving or holding the body. Simply proposing a movement can produce the same results as doing the movement. Easy movement with less pain is high on the list for many people with multiple sclerosis (MS). But if you have tried different exercises to discover that you have put more stress on your body instead of less, you might consider the Feldenkrais method. ... "I realized how much better I felt when I was practicing the method," she says. "There have been times when I gave up, but Feldenkrais keeps me mobile. .., I don't know what I would be without." Now 65, says Dillon, the best way to explain how the method helps is that it has taught her to recognize small differences in her body that are signals for when her nervous system is stressed. ..Those who use the Feldenkrais method believe that their kinesthetic consciousness over time, that is, the awareness of one's physical position, weight and movement, becomes clearer and enables them to experience the benefits of Feldenkrais in times of discomfort without Feldenkrais exercises. In other words, proposing a movement produces the same results as doing the movement.
Rehabilitation of multiple sclerosis patients in India
Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, Vol 18, 2015
Nirmal Surya, Director, Surya Neuro Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic progressive disease which is one of the leading causes of handicap in young subjects. The large range of symptoms associated with MS lead to continuing decline in neurologic status and quality of life. ...The main objective of rehabilitation is, therefore, to ease the burden of symptoms by improving self-performance and independence. ... Gait ataxia and limb incoordination are difficult symptoms to treat. They require prolonged training and patience for improvement. The physiotherapist focuses mainly on improving posture and balance exercises. Drugs have little role to play in this disability. ... Specific balance and gait interventions depend on the type of impairments that contribute to the problem. Maintaining postural control is an important outcome. Programs such as ... Feldenkrais may be helpful in maintaining gait and balance function.
The Irish Times (newspaper article), Sept 14, 2004
Also available at: http://www.feldenkrais.ie/irishtimes.pdf
“The Feldenkrais Method is neither a therapy nor a treatment. It is a form of re-education which teaches the body how to move more intelligently,” says Sabine Volkmann, a German practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, based in Ireland.
... The central idea behind the Feldenkrais Method is to re-train the brain into patterns of movement which genuinely suit each individual best. This form of central nervous system re-training has also been found to be of benefit to people with neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and those who have had a stroke. “In Germany, a lot of people with MS do Feldenkrais because the more you know about how you can move before you lose some ability to move, the more you can get some functional movement back again afterwards,” explains Volkmann.