Ep 123 -- Feldenkrais Movement with Nancy Haller

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Feldenkrais movement is a method of retaining the brain by using small, deliberate manipulations of the joints. Practitioners use it to treat everything from stroke-related disabilities to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS) and more.

It's something I read about in my early days of learning about neuroplasticity, but not something I pursued. I still wanted to learn more, so I invited Nancy Haller from the President of the Feldenkrais Guild to talk about the therapy.

Bio

Nancy Haller is a teacher, speaker, and writer with a private practice in the Seattle area. She continually works toward BrainEase using the Feldenkrais Method®. She has authored works on Foreign Accent Syndrome and the Feldenkrais Interactive Movement Chapter included in the Integrated Pain Management Text book.

Nancy brings her own personal story of recovering from brain injury to teaching others to find pathways to BrainEase in daily life. Whether you are experiencing a brain injury, brain fog, feeling brain tired or you have someone you work with or love that is struggling with brain issues.

This book is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle forms

Science

Feldenkrais doesn't seem to be part of most mainstream treatment programs, though some may recommend it.

So what does the science say?

Researchers Susan Hiller and Anthea Worley from the University of South Australia completed a meta analysis of the available literature in 2015 and came to this conclusion:

There is further promising evidence that the [Feldenkrais Method] may be effective for a varied population interested in improving functions such as balance. Careful monitoring of individual impact is required given the varied evidence at a group level and the relatively poor quality of studies to date.

Susan Hiller and Anthea Worley

That's definitely encouraging. And it makes sense. The Feldenkrais Method involves sometimes imperceptible movement. In the early days of my recovery, I could feel muscles start to come back online before I could actually make them move. Maybe I was activating just one of the hundreds or thousands of individual fibers that make up a leg muscle.

Recognizing that reinforces to the brain that something good is happening here. This route appears to work so let's put more resources there.

In some respects, the Feldenkrais Method seems aligned with that,

Should you try it? Maybe. As with anything, check with your doctor and medical team first. It seems unlikely to cause any harm and if your doctor concurs, check it out.

There are a lot of free resources out there and you'll find some of those in the links below. So you can try it out without paying anything.

It can take some energy, but you don't have to do it for hours on end. It shouldn't interfere with more traditional therapy.

So it likely has some benefit based on the studies, and lots of folks have significant benefits.

It makes sense.

It's unlikely to cause harm.

It doesn't have to cost a lot of money or time to get started.

If it appeals to you, based on this analysis, I'd say go for it.

Oh, and here's an article in the New York Times that talks about Feldenkrais Method and other movement therapies.

Moshe Feldenkrais

Feldenkrais himself had an impressive life. As a teenager, he emigrated from Belarus to Palestine as WWI was ending. He walked there.

He studied judo and jujitsu. In Paris, he studied electronics and physics. He escaped to England as the Nazis were rolling into Paris. He conducted anti-submarine research in Scotland and taught Judo to British sailors.

He would go on to write 9 books, direct the Isreali Army's Department of Electronics, and eventually come to the US where he taught folks the his now eponymous method.

You can read more about him and his works in Mark Reese's Feldenkrais Bio on the Feldenkrais Guild's website here: https://www.feldenkraisguild.com/Files/download/moshe_bio.pdf

Hack of the Week

Accept that you have a brain injury.

There's a stigma associated with brain damage, but if you've survived a stroke, then, by definition, you have a brain injury. In my brain, there is a chunk of scar tissue that used to be live, functioning brain cells.

Once you acknowledge and accept you have this brain damage, it means you don't have to spend energy denying it. Accepting that can be liberating.

It's easier to remember that there's nothing wrong with an affected arm or leg. The problem is all in your head, literally. And that's what you need to treat.

Acknowledging the reality doesn't mean giving up on getting better. Instead, it gives you a starting place that you can build from.

Links

Where do we go from here

  • Check out Nancy's Book on Amazon (aff link) and visit her website to learn more about the Feldenkrais.
  • Check out Feldenkrais.com to learn more about the method.
  • Subscribe to Strokecast in you favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode
  • Don't get best…get better.

128 episodes