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Feldenkrais Method - Dispelling the Myths

“Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself.”
- Moshe Feldenkrais D.Sc.

Here, according to the Method developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, are five common misconceptions:

1. Faster is better

We're told faster is better than slower, the more reps the better.
In fact, we need to slow down When moving or exercising quickly, you can only do things how you have always done them. It's a habit. When moving slowly, you become aware of what you are doing, make distinctions and then are able to find new and different ways of moving more comfortably and effectively.

2. "Stretching out" the injured area facilitates healing.

Our modern lifestyle -- the hours we spend driving, sitting at the computer, watching TV, etc. saps our energy and also the dexterity and mobility that we had as children. Our nervous system has become accustomed to bodily tension and immobility, the levels of tension that become our "normal" actually limit our movement. Static stretching exercises for specific areas -- hamstrings, calves, arms, neck -- are often unhelpful and often counterproductive.
Research shows that what we really need is to re-establish the fine-tuned coordination necessary to access our childlike flexibility. Movement is a whole-body experience. We need something to ensure ALL of our muscles, not just a random few, are working together to co-ordinate smooth movement.

3. Good posture means standing straight and throwing your shoulders back.

Posture is intimately related to movement, and we need many subtly modulated postures to maximize effortless movement. Posture is generally taught as static when it's really a dynamic alignment of the whole body.  When people stop to think about how to stand or sit they often freeze in a position which sets up rigidity & loss of balance rather than ease of meovment.
Feldenkrais described good posture as a readiness to move in any direction without preparation ie without physical or mental adjustment. "The aim is that a body is organised to move with minimum effort and maximum efficiency - not through muscular strength, but through increased consciousness of how it works." The Method enables this through moving and movement.

4. Strength keeps us in shape and prevents injuries.

Obviously we need strength, but intense weight-lifting and heavy calisthenics to develop the kind of muscles touted in Men's Fitness can hamper graceful movement. Unwanted muscular tensions - what Moshe Feldenkrais called 'parasitic contractions' -- are merely useless holding patterns that actually interfere with movement.
Feldenkrais would say, 'I'm teaching you to be strong.'  However his Method brings not only improved movement but also the muscular sensitivity to know what you are doing and change how you move as circumstances require. Effective, appropriate movement will maintain fitness and alleviate injuries.

5. No pain, no gain.

Common sense would indicate that to stretch or work an already-injured or overstretched muscle might not be a good thing to do!
Feldenkrias emphasized doing only movements that are comfortable. If you take a movement to its limit, all you are learning is your limitations. When a movement starts to become uncomfortable, then stop doing it - and begin to explore what it is that hampers/hinders the movement going further. Classes and FI sessions run on this principle. No pain, much gain.
As with other movement modalities like yoga,  body awareness, flexibility and resilience are key factors. The end (positive) results are immediately felt and regular sessions ensure that the body & mind continue on a path of ease improvement in movement.

 

Falling For Feldenkrais: A Patient's Progress
Posted: 06/16/2010 12:11 pm EDT

".........The Feldenkrais Method was named after Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-84), whose accomplishments included a mastery of physics, world-class status in judo and teaching 75-year-old former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion to stand on his head -- Ben Gurion's head, that is. Drawing from such thinkers/healers as Mabel Todd, Kano Jigoro and Gustav Flechner and such disciplines as dance, yoga, Rolfing, the Alexander Technique and hypnotherapy, Feldenkrais facilitates self-healing through a science-based approach to movement and posture.   
Instead of telling you how to stand, sit or move, the practitioner suggests you experiment with various gentle maneuvers until you find your own comfort zone, always noticing even slight increments of discomfort and stopping before pain sets in. In other words: no pain, much gain.