Can the Feldenkrais Method help with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

I believe the Feldenkrais Method (either in group class or one-on one hands on session) can help people with MS in many ways.


One of the benefits of the Feldenkrais Method is that we help people learn more efficient movement patterns that will work the best for their own body because every person has a unique body and there is no one “correct” movement pattern than works for everyone. Improving movement efficiency and economy is very important for anyone, but particularly for people with MS as energy conservation is a key.


Improving movement efficiency and movement patterns is also important to improve functional mobility such as getting in and out of bed, toilet, walking, etc. As their energy level goes down, their movement patterns are likely to change. For example, they may show decreased leg and trunk coordination, affecting their gait pattern, and increasing risks of falling. Thus, through this work, we can help them become more independent and reduce their fall risks.

We also help people improve their kinesthetic/proprioceptive awareness. While changes in gait pattern as a result of fatigue may look apparent to observers, there is a very good chance that they are not aware of such changes. Thus, improving kinesthetic/proprioceptive awareness can help them notice when they start altering their movement patterns so they can pay closer attention to how they are walking and minimize fall risks.

It is not uncommon for people with MS to experience muscle pain and joint pain. The Feldenkrais Method uses very gentle movements and can lessen unnecessary muscular tension, which can give them a pain relief.

This work is also helpful in calming the nervous system by balancing out autonomic nervous system and reducing anxiety ans stress. Anxiety and stress can interfere with their sleep pattern, and can also increase pain.

These are some of the benefits of the Feldenkrais Method for people with MS that I can think of. Please leave me your comments, questions, and/or feedback.

 Get help to move more comfortably and be more comfortable in your body.

Movement is essential to our life. Improving movement quality is directly related to quality of our life. Teaching people to move well is my passion. Sign up for Trans4Move Newsletters that will teach you how to improve your movements, functions, and your life!

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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!

Difference between Feldenkrais and Yoga and Pilates

What I share here with you only comes from my experience as a Feldenkrais practitioner with a little of knowledge and experience about Yoga and Pilates, thus it is by no means an absolute definition.

I will make it very simple and short.

What Feldenkrais, Yoga, and Pilates have in common:
MOVEMENT. They all work with movement.

Characteristics of Feldenkrais:

-Whole body integrated movement as opposed to isolated movement

-Uses many development movement patterns to improve coordination and balance

-Movement is used as a means to improving human functioning

-Focuses more on subjective experiences of movement

-Process- oriented

Characteristics of Yoga:

-a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices originated in ancient India.

-Tends to be more static (hold a certain posture for a period of time), though it depends on which yoga you practice.

-Whole body integrated movement

-can be goal-oriented especially modern yoga that is practiced as fitness/exercise as opposed to mind-body practice

Characteristics of Pilates:

-works to build strength, develop control and endurance in the entire body.

-may be practiced on the floor or on Pilates equipment such as reformer, Pilates chair.

-tends to be more goal-oriented.

Generalization of Yoga I often hear is that yoga is great for flexibility and strengthening.

Generalization of Pilates is that it is great for core strengthening.

I believe there is a lot more to Yoga and Pilates than those generalizations, however, at least to a small degree that is true.

For me what differentiates Feldenkrais from Yoga and Pilates is that teachers guide students attention to their internal sensations so each student can discover “ideal” movement patterns for him/herself, as no one individual has the same body thus no one movement that fits everyone. In Feldenkrais classes, teachers don’t usually demo movements for students, but instead teachers only verbally guide students through a sequence of movements and guide their attention to their bodies so they become aware of their habitual movement patterns and new and more efficient ones.

These are all movement systems and you cannot learn about movement by only talking about movement and reading. The best way to learn is to try all of them and you will experience the difference between them.

 Get help to move more comfortably and be more comfortable in your body.

Movement is essential to our life. Improving movement quality is directly related to quality of our life. Teaching people to move well is my passion. Sign up for Trans4Move Newsletters that will teach you how to improve your movements, functions, and your life!

Taro photo2.JPG

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!

Got Balance Problems? Try the Feldenkrais Method to Improve your Balance and Confidence and Reduce Fear of Falling and Anxiety

Are you afraid of falling? Perhaps you have noticed a change in your ability to balance recently. Perhaps you think that these changes are just a natural part of aging, or because of a recent injury or diagnosis.


Here's the typical scenario: As people’s balance declines, they start to feel less confident and start to restrict their movement patterns, including breathing. They start to move more rigidly, holding muscular tension as if already bracing for a fall. Unfortunately, these changes in movement patterns have a negative effect on their ability to remain upright. They sacrifice the ability to react quickly to disturbances to their balance, and to move freely to regain it. Therefore they are much more likely to lose their balance and fall. Statistically, fear of falling is one of the greatest causes of falling in older adults.


Once they have experienced a fall, they become even more rigid. Their nervous system is traumatized, so they feel more anxiety and fear of falling. Physical balance and emotional balance are closely related. In other words, if you can improve your sense of balance, you can improve your confidence, feel more stable, and feel less anxious and fearful of falling. When you are not afraid of falling, you will find yourself less afraid of failing, or trying new things, even meeting new people. Your physical resilience and your mental and emotional state are intimately connected. It's not too late to bring balance back into your life.


When you hear the term "balance exercises," what comes to mind? Perhaps balancing on one leg? Walking on a straight line?


Traditional balance exercises involve challenging your balance in standing. "Good balance" is determined by how long you can hold a certain position without losing balance, or how well you can maintain your stability while performing balance activities. While many disciplines such as physical therapy, yoga, personal training, and Tai Chi work with balance in this way, the Feldenkrias Method of somatic education approaches balance with a unique perspective.


Feldenkrais teachers look at how you use your whole body to adjust your balance continuously: in other words, coordination. Balance is dynamic, not static. You are constantly moving even when you're standing still, though you may not be aware of it. Therefore, improving balance is not about learning to hold your body still in place. It is about improving whole body coordination so you can constantly adjust your center of mass over the base of support .


You become more rigid and hold your breath when your nervous system perceives you might be falling, which is then felt as fear and anxiety. It really doesn't help to increase your effort to maintain balance by contracting more muscles and making your body more rigid because it will only decrease your freedom to move.


Most “balance exercises” in a standing position can reinforce your tendencies to contract muscles, restrict breathing, become rigid, and feel anxiety and fear. In the Feldenkrais Method, the teacher may interrupt your habitual patterns by working in other orientations, like sitting in a chair or lying down. In the lessons, you will experience the feeling of both your center of mass and base of support, and how they relate to improve your coordination and safety.  


Try this short movement exploration of balance and counter-balance. All you need is a sturdy chair and a beach towel or blanket. Check your sense of balance before, and after. What were the results?


 

Sensory awareness, with gentle movement coordination, will keep you flexible and responsive to changes so that you can regain your balance more easily. Contact a Feldenkrais Practitioner near you as part of your falls-prevention plan.

 

 

Let me know what you think.  Please leave your comments/questions/feedback.

Please check my YouTube channel to find more balance exercises:

www.youtube.com/c/TaroIwamoto

 

Get help to improve your balance and confidence!


Movement is essential to our life. Improving movement quality is directly related to quality of our life. Teaching people to move well is my passion. Sign up for Trans4Move Newsletters that will teach you how to improve your movements, functions, and your life!

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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!

The Feldenkrais Method For Chronic Pain

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.

 Get help to move out of vicious pain cycle.

Movement is essential to our life. Improving movement quality is directly related to quality of our life. Teaching people to move well is my passion. Sign up for Trans4Move Newsletters that will teach you how to improve your movements, functions, and your life!

Taro photo2.JPG

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!

How I do know whether I need a knee replacement or not? Can the Feldenkrais Method help prevent a knee replacement?

“I have a severe arthritis in my knee.  Will I need a knee replacement or can I avoid a surgery with the Feldenkrais Method or any other modalities?”

 

This is a very common question I receive from my clients and friends.  I believe that the amount of information you can get on the internet is overwhelming, and it is not easy to differentiate reliable information based on good research from information based on personal opinions without a scientific basis.

 

My intention for this article is to clarify a reasoning for a surgical intervention and the Feldenkrais Method (TM) for some conditions such as arthritis, degenerative joint disease (DJD), and degenerative disc disease (DDD).

 

The diagnoses mentioned above are all chronic conditions that result from repetitive use over many years vs traumatic acute injuries.  It is important to remind you that degeneration of joints, discs is normal aging process, and that should not intimidate you.  No matter how well you use your body and move you will have some wear and tear.

So how do you know if you need a surgery or when you need a surgery?

 

Here are two important questions you need to ask yourself:

 

1) Is your condition causing pain/discomfort?  How severe?

2) Is your pain/discomfort compromising your daily activities?  How badly?

 

Notice I didn’t ask you about the severity of degeneration based on imaging studies (MRI, X-rays, etc).  Why didn’t I ask you that question?

 

Whether you will need a surgery or not depends on the severity of your pain experience, not necessarily based on the severity of arthritis, bone/joint degeneration.

 

* There are other factors: age, other medical conditions.

 

Research shows that the severity of pain is not really correlated with the severity of arthritis. In fact, many people experience little or no pain in the presence of severe arthritis, or vice versa.

 

It’s not uncommon for some people in their 90’s to have no joint pain.  I bet x-rays would show quite a bit of joint degeneration in most joints including knees, hips, and spine.

 

Does it make sense for them to have a surgery if they are not having much pain and their functions aren’t affected?  A surgery may not be necessary if a person is experiencing little or no pain regardless of the severity of arthritis/degeneration.

 

I’d like to clarify that I am not suggesting that you don’t see a physician, nor that imaging studies are unnecessary.  I believe it is important that you consult with your physician regarding your condition(s).  My point here is that the presence of degeneration does not necessarily determine whether a surgical intervention is warranted.

 

Can the Feldenkrais Method (TM) reverse my joint degeneration?  How can it help me?

 

The state of the joint integrity cannot be reversed with the Feldenkrais Method.  It is important to realize that your habitual movement patterns create uneven use of your body.  You use certain parts much more than others.  There is a very good chance that to some degree uneven use has contributed to increased joint degeneration in some areas.


Proportional distribution of effort and movement is one of the Feldenkrais Method’s fundamental principles.  We, Feldenkrais practitioners teach you how you can redistribute your movement effort more evenly and efficiently, which will reduce stress at the affected part, and you can move more comfortably and easily.

What is unique about the Feldenkrais Method is that we don’t work with the affected part in isolation.  We, instead look at its relationship with other parts and improve the whole relationship, as you cannot influence one part and not influence the rest.  

 

If one part is affected by any condition, your nervous system will find a way to compensate in an effort to protect the affected part.  While compensatory mechanism is helpful and necessary for a short period of time, it will have consequences in a long term.

 

That said, the Feldenkrais Method can improve the relationship between the affected part and the rest of the parts and can recreate a new experience and sense of how you use and move the affected part of yourself and change your pain experience as well.

 

Thus, whether you end up needing a surgery or not, the Feldenkrais Method can benefit you. You cannot go wrong with improving the quality of movement. It will benefit you tremendously even if you have a surgery.

 

In summary, the severity of joint degeneration is not directly related to the severity of pain.  Whether you’ll need a surgery (a knee replacement in this case) or not depends on the severity of pain experience and how much pain is limiting your activities (plus other factors such as age and other medical conditions).  Ultimately your physician and you will decide the best option for you.  The Feldenkrais Method can benefit you whether you pursue a surgical intervention or a conservative treatment.

 Get help to move more comfortably and be more comfortable in your body.

Movement is essential to our life. Improving movement quality is directly related to quality of our life. Teaching people to move well is my passion. Sign up for Trans4Move Newsletters that will teach you how to improve your movements, functions, and your life!

Taro photo2.JPG

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!

Mindfulness Exercises For Stress Reduction, Balance, Focus

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I teach mindful movement class based on the Feldenkrais Method (TM). Mindfulness practice is about practicing how to be in the moment and how to bring your attention to the moment.

Mindfulness practice combined with movement makes it even more powerful, and in my opinion, it makes it very real because our body, thoughts, feelings are all constantly changing and moving. Thus, I teach mindful movement class called Awareness Through Movement.

Here’s a simple mindful exercise you can try:

Sit on the front of a regular chair with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Shift your attention to your feet and notice how your feet are touching the floor (are feet flat, turning?), how close/far apart they are. Notice your sits bones. Can you feel which sitbone you are leaning more on? Are you sitting more the back of your sitsbones or front? Slowly and gently shift your weight on pelvis forward and back several times (10~15 times) and pay attention to notice how your weight shifts on your sitsbones. And, slowly and gently shift your weight on pelvis side to side so you shift onto one sitbone and onto the other alternately. Do this several times (10~15 times). When you are done, notice how you are sitting now. Do you notice any changes in how you sit on your sitsbones? Has your posture changed?

What happens when you pay attention to your body and movement is that you direct your attention to yourself in the moment so your brain is fully engaged. When you are fully attending to yourself, you’ll begin to notice the way you use your body (the way you breath, sit, stand, walk, etc). This is the moment when subconsious becomes conscious.

To become mindful, you have to slow down what you’re doing so you can pay attention to what you’re doing. Then, you will really know what you’re doing.

Once you really know what you’re doing with your body, then you can pay attention to other things and people and will start to notice things you really haven’t before.

This practice helps reduce stress, improve balance, and focus because you’re shifting the brain’s attention to this very moment from other distractions. This calms the brain and nervous system. This balances autonomic nervous system. As a result, you feel more relaxed and less stressed.

 Get help to move more mindfully and feel more calm and balanced.

Movement is essential to our life. Improving movement quality is directly related to quality of our life. Teaching people to move well is my passion. Sign up for Trans4Move Newsletters that will teach you how to improve your movements, functions, and your life!

Taro photo2.JPG

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!

How to Be "Grounded" Physically and Emotionally

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I am sure you all injured yourself once or twice, or too many to keep track of. Recall the last time you were injured and in pain. Can you describe your feelings as you were going through your recovery?

Upset? Disappointed? Helpless? Sad? Scared? Depressed? Anxious? Nervous?,…. what else?

It is very apparent that what happens to your body directly affects what happens to your mind. Can you use this fact to your advantage?

What do you do when you are feeling very unstable for whatever reasons? How do you regain your stability?

Because physical stability and balance are closely related to emotional stability and balance, the benefits of exercise and movement extend into both physical and emotional aspects.

When you are feeling emotional wobbly and unsteady, instead of thinking or worrying about “it”, start working on your physical stability and balance then you will regain your "ground" from which you can move into any direction with ease and confidence!

Watch the video below (about 12 minutes) to learn how you can improve physical stability, which will help you feel more stable and “grounded.”

Before you do this exercise, observe and notice your emotions as well as physical sensation of your body, and after you finish the exercise, observe and notice your emotions again. Did they change? How?

 Get help to move with stability and confidence and feel stable and grounded in your body and mind.

Movement is essential to our life. Improving movement quality is directly related to quality of our life. Teaching people to move well is my passion. Sign up for Trans4Move Newsletters that will teach you how to improve your movements, functions, and your life!

Taro photo2.JPG

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!

Toe Dexterity and Balance

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How well can you move your toes? I bet you can't move your toes as well as your fingers. Your feet used to get a lot more sensory stimulation from the ground when you were a child as you probably walked in barefoot than you do now.

Notice how babies use their feet and toes and use the feedback from the ground to develop movements. Your brain gets so much information from your feet and toes.

Imagine how little freedom your feet and toes have in your shoes. Sensory feedback your feet receive from the ground help you develop balance.

Start activating your toes once again like when you were a child with "Monkey Toes Exercise" and improve your balance!


Get help to improve your balance and movement.

Movement is essential to our life. Improving movement quality is directly related to quality of our life. Teaching people to move well is my passion. Sign up for Trans4Move Newsletters that will teach you how to improve your movements, functions, and your life!

Taro photo2.JPG

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!

What can you do to prevent the problems associated with sitting too much?

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Are you getting sore from sitting too much at work?  Wondering what you can do to prevent the problems associated with sitting too much?  


This seems to be a very common issue for many people, perhaps including you.  Proper ergonomics definitely helps, but that’s not enough, right?  Paying attention to your posture, but you can’t think about your posture all the time, can you?  So what can you do??

 

While sitting in itself is not bad and it is necessary, a lack of movement or less movement variability that sitting for a long period of time creates can be problematic.  I believe we, human-beings are designed to move.  Less movement means less muscle activation, less bone stimulation, less brain stimulation, less blood circulation, etc.  Your brain and nervous system will get your attention by increasing muscular tone and/or producing pain/uncomfortable sensation in your body, which is a cue that you need to move.  

 

Ideally you want to get up and move around every so often, but when you are at work or driving, it’s not very realistic to do that.  My guess is that this is a dilemma you are facing.  So, a real question is: What is a solution?

 

Solution:  Create more movements in sitting.  Sitting on an exercise ball or a dyna disc (shown in the video below) can help create more movements due to an unstable sitting surface.  I need to mention to you that you will want to start sitting on an exercise ball or a dyna disc for a short period of time and gradually increase time if you have never used it as a chair.  As it is unstable, it will require you to use muscles you haven’t used a while or you don’t use all that much, thus will require you to adapt to new physiological demands.


While an exercise ball or a dyna disc can be helpful in terms of creating more movements in sitting, they are not absolutely necessary.  You can also create more movements in sitting with simple exercises.  I suggest you try these exercises to improve comfort in sitting at work.

 Get help to improve comfort in sitting at work.

Teaching people how to move well is my passion. Sign up for Trans4Move Newsletters that will teach you how to improve your movements, functions, and your life!

Taro photo2.JPG

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!