Before I explain how the Feldenkrais Method can help with chronic pain, let’s talk about the difference between acute pain and chronic pain in a very simple way.
Acute pain is associated with tissue trauma/injury, and pain that is due to acute inflammation and actual tissue damage. I’m sure you have twisted your ankle at least once in your life. Pain and swelling immediately come on after an injury.
Chronic pain/ persistent pain refers to pain that has lasted more than 6 months since the onset of pain/injury. It’s not uncommon people have had back pain for years. In this case, pain is often not associated with tissue injury/damage, but is associated with increased nerve sensitivity and changes in how the nervous system perceives stimuli. When certain body positions and movements and pain are associated repeatedly over time, the nervous system anticipates a response (pain) with those body positions and movements. In an extreme case, just a thought of doing those triggering movements is enough to produce pain response.
The Feldenkrais Method is about creating new ways of movements, which means creating new pathways or neural circuits in the brain. New movement patterns and new neural circuits will allow you to move without pain as your nervous system has not yet formed an association between those movement patterns and pain. Once you experience new ways of movements without pain response, you can taken an advantage of those new movement patterns and expand movement capacity from there and start to disassociate movements with pain. The more your nervous system dissociates pain with movement, the less sensitive the nerves become, allowing you to move more with less pain, therefore getting out of vicious pain cycle.
I will give you examples:
If you are afraid of bending over, try lying down on your back and gently bring both knees towards your chest using your hands. You can also try rocking forward and back on your hands and knees (move your buttocks towards heels and away from heels). These movements are essentially the same as bending over but in different orientation. Even if you cannot bend over because of back pain, you may find that you can do the two movements above with no pain or less pain.
Movement is only one aspect of chronic pain, but a very important one, and the Feldenkrais Method’s unique approach to movement is very effective and helpful for people with chronic pain.
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My name is Taro Iwamoto. I am a Feldenkrais practitioner and movement expert. I help people develop new and more efficient movement patterns and expand movement options in order to overcome injuries/pain and move beyond limits. Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!