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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Feldenkrais for Seniors, People with Chronic Stress, Injuries or Impairment

You may be surprised to know that our movement patterns are more or less hardwired by the time we are in our 20s. As we grow older, these patterns become habitual, repetitive and narrow; aches and pains develop; we have injuries; our posture worsens. The proprioceptors in our joints, which tell our brains where we are in space and time, begin to fall asleep out of boredom! And this process decreases the conversation between body and brain, driving the lack of communication. Eventually our coordination, balance and movement may become very limited.

As Meriah Kruse, GCFP, states, "Wear and tear on our joints, injuries, long hours spent at a computer, carrying around children, or on the job slowly whittle away our uprightness and create a roundness in the shoulders, discomfort in the neck and low back. Knee and hip injuries or replacements complicate posture severely. And yet, through Feldenkrais lessons, you can dramatically improve your posture in a relatively short time, without surgery or painful invasion of any kind. You have to feel this for yourself to believe it." She has more to say...

How to Decrease Neck Pain
We tend to think that when our neck hurts, the problem is in our neck; and yet, this is rarely so. For a moment, think of the neck as the top of your vertical structure.

Being vertical, that is, standing, requires a cooperative effort from many, many joints, muscles and bones starting at your feet and ending where your neck balances your head on top. Any compromised area along your vertical self creates a challenge for neighboring body segments. For instance, if you injure your knee, something in your pelvic area or lower back will probably try to make up for the lack of mobility and reliability in your knee! This kind of extra compensating behavior in your lower back may then lead to a change in the curvature of your middle back. The difficulty with your knee can also refer down the vertical structure and create challenges for your ankles. So, you can see, your neck is a bit of a hero! As the last section of the vertical column of your body, your neck has to somehow balance the considerable weight of your head, regardless of the misalignments and altered movement patterns in other parts of yourself. These challenges often result in neck pain and, in the long run, conditions such as compressed discs or dowagers hump.

So, if you want to solve your neck problem, you must consider the entire body, and that is the strong suit of the Feldenkrais Method®. Often after a lesson that doesn't even directly revolve around neck movements, you'll find your neck dramatically altered and far more comfortable.

How to Decrease Low Back Pain
Now that you have given some thought to the inter-connections of your entire body, it follows that, like the neck, lower back pain doesn't always originate in the place where you feel the discomfort. Once again, the health of your legs, your hips, and your entire spine make a difference in how happy your lower back will be. Scores of Feldenkrais lessons contribute to a happier lower back, in many cases helping people to avoid invasive procedures that might otherwise be recommended. This doesn't mean that the Feldenkrais Method is a medical treatment! In fact, it's an educational approach that teaches you how to feel and initiate subtle but profound changes in how your move, think and sense your daily life." Thank you, Meriah!

The best part is that the lessons are gentle, easy to do and have been done by seniors around the world for more than 50 years. And, at any age and in nearly any condition, we humans are able to integrate these lessons subconsciously. We don't have to think about them, memorize anything or actively remember any sequence. Our bodies have a built in capacity to remember and put to use the information it receives from these non-habitual movements. Our bodies recognize what they need and innately know how to incorporate the information intelligently. It's pretty amazing, actually!