If you are a practicing therapist wanting to help clients find relief from chronic pain, you may feel much of the same frustration that many experienced therapists I recently interviewed expressed-
- “Patients are often fearful of movement and therefore lack compliance with home programs.”
- ”The new pain science can be helpful, but also confusing to communicate to the patient without having them feel we are saying it’s all in their head.”
- “With my chronic pain patients, I am using all the tools that I have available to me and yet I feel I am missing something important.”
The key differentiation between the Feldenkrais method and other movement approaches is that it creates customized “learning how to learn” lessons that improve and expand one’s movement repertoire. Each lesson is individuality tailored to the biomechanical and neurophysiological needs of patients on a case-by-case basis. As a Feldenkrais practitioner I have never taught the same series of moves and neuromuscular engagements to any two people!
Take for example a 56-year-old client of mine that came to me with ongoing chronic back pain despite having had 2 prior series of physical therapy elsewhere.
She appeared anxious and all of her movements were slow and cautious. Unquestionably “central sensitization” was a factor. Her central nervous system, the “little woman in the control room”, had made a strong association between movement and pain and had “put on the brakes”.
After demonstrating her prior home exercise program, she was relieved when I suggested that she discontinue it. The exercises were linear in nature and quite standard, something many physical therapists would be bored to death doing themselves.
Using a Feldenkrais approach of hands-on Functional Integration and a pelvic clock lesson sitting on a balance disc, she returned one week after her first session with a big smile and reported good progress. She used the balance disc many times daily and expressed feeling more connected to her body in a comfortable, fluid and joyful way. And she recorded finally being able to pick up her granddaughter “with only a minimal feeling of strain.”
This client was far from out of the woods, but she was learning to identify stressful movement patterns, and have access to Feldenkrais lessons that expanded her movement repertoire and provided her with efficient and comfortable functioning. Additionally, her nervous system began to trust movement once again because of the gentle, individually structured lessons that tapped into her brain’s curiosity and sense of wonder.
The Feldenkrais method is a whole brain system for whole body learning. It is powerfully effective because it uses the same individualized process of neuromuscular learning that one would engage in, for example, learning to refine and expand one’s repertoire on the piano. Think of the spine “having 24 piano keys”. How well do you feel you can guide your patients to learn to differentiate and then integrate “those keys” in all kinds of various combinations?
Over 95% of my chronic pain clientele come to me having had previously unsuccessful physical therapy. Thus, my commitment to educating the PT world in a method that is extremely well responded to by people with chronic pain.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can have more success treating chronic pain using a Feldenkrais inspired approach, please check out my online course, Movement and Awareness for Healing Chronic Pain. It starts in just a few weeks on September 23rd!