The Feldenkrais Method® approaches your physiotherapy in ways that are both similar and different from other healing traditions. Often, students we work with have already seen a chiropractor, or sought physical therapy, acupuncture, or massage therapy. Some are already practicing yoga or meditation. Here’s how our practice compares to these other physiotherapy approaches.
With Feldenkrais, the body movements are always gentle, painless, and designed to stay within your comfortable, easy range of motion. The key ingredient of any Feldenkrais class or private session is the learning component. You are not adjusted, as with a chiropractor. Instead, you are taught.
This empowering approach provides you with multiple, sustainable ways to function, think, and feel. This tends to replace old, limiting, painful habits with new, more efficient ones.
Feldenkrais® addresses the nervous system and the brain, in addition to muscle, fascia, and bone. This allows the practitioner to use gentle, painless movement to “rewire” the habit at its core.
Most commonly, a chiropractor offers an initial adjustment visit of about 30 minutes. A series of follow-up visits to the chiropractor (perhaps a few times a week) are much shorter in duration. A chiropractor manually adjusts your spine to resolve subluxations that may be causing discomfort.
Feldenkrais® private sessions involve some hands-on direction of your movements. This works to rewire your brain and nervous system for more efficient and pain-free living. The sessions and classes are about 50-55 minutes long. You may also be assigned some short, mindful movements to practice at home in between visits.
Physical therapy exercises take a mechanical approach to rehabilitation. Feldenkrais goes a step further than physical therapy, by integrating precise biomechanical movements into a holistic understanding of your body’s central nervous system. Your body and mind work simultaneously to rewire the neural pathways that have been triggering your pain and restriction. This allows you to move more freely, without discomfort.
In addition, Feldenkrais movements (both during a private session, or as part of a group class) are intended to be painless and comfortable. With the Feldenkrais Method®, you learn through joy and pleasure. As you take the exercises/movements home and practice, you will find yourself wanting to do them because they feel good, unlike some physical therapy.
Feldenkrais® and acupuncture are complementary, since both are painless, and work with the major meridians of the body (nervous system channels). Like acupuncture, there is an energy balancing component to Feldenkrais sessions.
However, the Feldenkrais Method® is completely non-invasive. It doesn’t use any needles like acupuncture, or rely on any external source for its effectiveness. On the contrary, it activates the inner healing of homeostasis mechanisms in the individual, which can be tapped into anytime, anywhere. As you learn how to access these movement/thinking/feeling patterns on your own, you become your own healer.
Massage therapy involves soft tissue manipulation. Massage therapists work with muscles and soft tissue. The Feldenkrais Method® is an approach that seeks to affect change by working with your nervous system. Your brain directs the nervous system and is in charge of your movement patterns. So if you want to change your movements you must literally change your mind. As new neural pathways are formed in your brain, you can safely regulate and coordinate your movements to take more efficient actions.
Like massage therapy, private Feldenkrais sessions can involve some hands-on work from your practitioner. This involves guiding your movements rather than manipulating your muscles or soft tissue.
Also like massage therapy, Feldenkrais sessions and group classes are deeply relaxing. The work activates and engages your parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of resting and digesting. As such, the sessions and classes induce a state of profound rest and recovery. However, this rested state is not sleepy or loose like after massage therapy. Clients often feel more active and in a “ready” state, primed for optimal performance.
Many students explore the Feldenkrais Method® as a way to achieve postures that previously eluded them or that caused discomfort. However, unlike yoga, the Feldenkrais Method® does not require you to be flexible. It does not involve stretching, holding or perfecting any positions. Instead of repeating and holding set poses as in yoga, in a Feldenkrais® class you explore gentle and innovative movements. You learn to become aware of habits that may be causing you movement difficulties, inefficiencies, or pain.
Meditation is primarily a mental exercise, with the body supporting the work of the mind. The Feldenkrais Method® is a true integration. Your mind works simultaneously with your body to physically rewire the neural pathways of your central nervous system. You may come to think of it as a moving meditation, since many of the mental benefits of meditation (and more) come to you in your sessions.