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D Look for Stacy Barrows, PT, GCFP, CPI-PMA @ or follow her on Twitter at stacy barrows @ FELDYPT; Facebook at Century City Physical Therapy, Inc. and her blog: You may also find Andrew Heffernan CSCS at his blog and read some of his articles: Feldenkrais Fix; Experience Life, Nov. 2009 The Yin Yang of Fitness; Experience Life, July/August, 2011 FELDENKRAIS FOR PERFORMANCE: BUILDING AWARENESS DO THIS BEFORE YOU DO THAT

FELDENKRAIS FOR PERFORMANCE: BUILDING … · 1.Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) The Inventor of the Feldenkrais Method®. Definition: The Feldenkrais Method is an educational approach

Apr 11, 2018



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  • D

    Look for Stacy Barrows, PT, GCFP, CPI-PMA @ www.centurycitypt.comor follow her on Twitter at stacy barrows @FELDYPT; Facebook at Century City Physical Therapy, Inc. and her blog:

    You may also find Andrew Heffernan CSCS at his blog and read some of his articles:

    Feldenkrais Fix; Experience Life, Nov. 2009

    The Yin Yang of Fitness; Experience Life, July/August, 2011




  • 1.Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984)The Inventor of the Feldenkrais Method.Definition: The Feldenkrais Method is an educational approach that teaches students to become aware of their bodies and move as seamlessly as possible. There are two applications in this method, one is a hands on approach called Functional Integration and the verbally directed approach used mostly in classes is called Awareness Through Movement(ATM). Both Functional Integration and ATM lessons are intricately connected and come from a synthesis of physics, motor control learning and martial arts. I call it cross-word puzzles for the body. Israeli physicist and educator, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais was also an athlete and

    Judo master.Although he fully understood what made a good athlete, it wasnt until he suffered a recurrentsoccer injury that he developed a work that masters a way to relearn movement and to do it spontaneously. He recognized that movement problems are not found in the muscles themselves. There is a nervous system that tends to be left out of the equation and until youaddress the perception that directs movement outcomes, we are left to our habitual patterns. The body responds by way of an internal feedback loop, sensing as it is moving to direct action. In other mind body approaches, awareness and relaxation are usually taught separate fromaction. The Feldenkrais work will tap into awareness and help the athlete or fitness enthusiast to discover an alternative way to improve strength and performance by reducing antagonistic muscular work. This delivers a benefit that many athletes are in search for, a relaxed readiness in high level performance. Remember Michael Phelps ability to look relaxed as he paced across the pool? Athletes are seldom directed to pay attention to how they sense their bodies directly after they perform a movement to access learning. Instead they are often left finding this relaxed readiness or zone by accident.

    2. Some tenets of the FM:a. The smaller the stimulus, the higher the sensitivityb. The detection of a difference is what makes a difference.c. Learning is the objective with this method and Feldenkrais relies on enabling the student to be responsible for their own learning. Be careful to not correct your client, and instead heighten


  • their awareness to what they are doing so the correction is establishedinternally first.d. The Goldilocks idea, draw on three ways to do something to allow thestudent to choose the better of the three movement patterns. Thisprovides the student with a way to discriminate better and be lesscompulsive in their choices.e. Posture is dynamic. The most efficient postural state is when theperson relies on the skeleton to support him or herself against gravitythrough balance, therefore relying on muscles for action. Feldenkraisdescribed this as Acture.f. Body scan/self postural analysis: to create a grid to sense differences.Movement provides the context for awareness but it is the scanningprocess that allows the self observation to have meaning.g. The FM is more interested in relaxed readiness vs. relaxation.h. Movement is the best clue to the activity of the nervous system. MF i. Once the ability to differentiate is improved, the details of theself or the surroundings can be sensed and the rest is only aquestion of experience, practice, time and attention. MFj. Movement is life. Without movement, life is unthinkable. MF

    3. Awareness Through Movement/ATM: These verbally directed lessons refer to the process and the canon of over 600 movement puzzles. Here are some guidelinesthat are necessary before you proceed:a. Always observe comfort. No Pain, More gain.b. Move slowly, this allows you to discriminate more differences in the movements. As described before, there is a direct relationship between stimuli and perception inhuman visual, auditory,and kinesthetic experience.c. The smaller the movement, the better the sensitivity is; the Webner-Fechner Law:This principle describes a means of measuring the direct relationship between themagnitude of stimulus and the relationship to sensitivity. For example, if you light amatch in a fully lit room there is very little to notice with the amount of illuminationfrom the match. However, if the lights are turned off, there is a clear sense of theamount of light that is reflected off the match. Think of this in reference to motorlearning. If there is a very high level of effort with a movement, there is lessdiscriminatory abilities to the details of the movement.d. Repetition. Feldenkrais was leery of his movement sequences becoming repetitive, and people checking out with their attention. Therefore, there are low repetitions with many variations to keep people attentive to how they are doing the movements. Feldenkrais studied and drew from Milton Erickson, the father of hypnosis to address what elements are necessary for attentive learning.e. Comparative movement. There is set reference to before and after check points toinstall the movement changes and provide people with the experience they need tolearn from.f. Rests. Frequent rests are paced throughout the lessons to provide a means toobserve the effect of the movement and to allow for the nervous system to process


  • the learning. Other places we observe this is pacing, efficient distribution of labor and energy conservation.4. Here are some additional ways to use common teaching strategies with ATM in personal training: (Excerpt from Differentiate: Avoid the no pain, no gain myth. There is a big difference between progressive overload and injury. An injured body develops inhibitions and compensations that restricts learning of skills. Customize: Your body will learn in its own way, influenced by your own physical traits and your unique history. Dont expect that your body will be able to do each exercise exactly the way your coach could, or the book you read described. Focus: A casual workout will bring casual results. Know the purpose of each exercise,whether its to strengthen, stretch, or develop muscles or to improve your coordination orbalance. Be sure that you are doing what you are intending to do. Refine small movements: Each sport has small movements and skills that are its integralparts. Even drills can often be broken down into more specific portions. Create routineswhich allow you to refine each small movement, so that your body knows each onebackwards and forwards, literally! Allow the body to learn naturally: Start each exercise with its simplest movements, usingrepetition to anchor the pattern of movement. Gradually add the more complex orintense elements. Dont feel you have to rush. Increase your Precision: Attend to the details of your skills - your breath, the shifts inyour weight, the stretch through various muscles and the corresponding contraction ofother muscles. Awareness is the difference between going through the motions andreally experiencing the skills. Coordination developed through the use of awareness withprecise movement is recalled in a competitive situation. Rehearse Mentally: Use your imagination to refine your skills. Being able to create yourideal performance state (including thoughts, emotions and muscles) enables you toregain control in a sport setting.

    4. Foam Rollers: a. Balancing from withinb. Sensory Motor Propsc. Proprioceptive Acuity/Cortical Map Toolsd. Tensegritye. Support

    5. SMARTROLLERATM Lesson: Potent movement relies on ideal alignment. This requires a good internal system of kinesthetic awareness (feed forward and feed back) to regulate movement. Feldenkrais describes efficient movement as freeing an action of wasted energy. This lesson is created to be used with the new SMARTROLLER, a new patented foam roller. The SMARTROLLER can act as a tuning mechanism to improve body alignment in preparation for all activities while assist in finding comfort.


  • Excerpt from SMARTROLLER GUIDE TO OPTIMAL MOVEMENT:Start with a body scan: Lie on your back on a firm surface, like the floor. Scan howyou are making contact, where are you touching and are where arespaces? Compare the two sides of your body. How do they differ?Next, lie on the SMARTROLLER, with the flatter side oriented up (solidpurple pointed up)Lie on the roller letting the roller support your head and pelvis. Note the natural curves in your body with the sensation of the roller against your back. Dont do anything with it; donttry to flatten your back or neutralize the curves, just notice withoutdoing. Next, gently tilt your right leg outward to the right. Do only a small amount of movement to allow you to balance on the roller easily. Observe how your body does this movement. Move slowly and smoothly noticing the details of the movement. Notice if your leg movesseparately from the rest of your body, or does your body immediately move with the leg? Try it both ways, each time moving more smoothly. Pause.Repeat this 5 times to observe all the parts of the body as you move the right leg out to the right and back to its original position. Note: The return of movement has just as much importance to the actual movement, so stay attentive throughout the exercise. Pause.Now start the movement with the left leg tilting to the left. Compare the two sides. Which iseasier? Which side seems more fluent, smooth and continuous? Repeat this 5 times attendingto the details of the movement.Try different variations. Let the body move slowly with the leg in a synchronous form. Firstthe leg moves then the torso from pelvis to opposite shoulder. Then try moving the body as awhole. Which way seems more natural? Pause.Next, alternate legs. First the right leg, then the left leg. Be very clear when one leg is thestanding leg and when one leg is the moving leg. The leg that is not moving should be still notrigid. This rocking motion adjusts the body to balance itself as it moves side to side. This adjuststhe body naturally to re-align the spine. Pause.Return to tipping the legs, alternating right to left. Notice what your feet are doing. Allowthem to respond to the tipping. First allow them to tip with the legs, then keep them flat on thefloor. Notice how this changes the movements.Notice what your head is doing. Does it move with the body or stay still? Is it different oneside to the other?Continue the movement but focus your eyes on a spot on the ceiling. As you tip the legs leftand right while focusing your eyes on one point, does the movement slow down, diminish in any way?Now allow the eyes to go in the direction your legs are going, has this become easier? Note:We direct a great deal of movement through habits with our eyes and the eyes can be a sourceof habitual limitation or body tension.Notice if you are more relaxed over the roller, is more of your body draped over the roller.What is your breathing like?Before rolling off the roller, think through the movement first. Guide your body to the floor.Slide off the roller without breaking contact with your body and the roller. Consider this likemoving an icon on your computer. If you break contact, the icon no longer moves. Once you areready, slide off the roller and lie flat.


  • Repeat the body scan and notice any changes. Are you more symmetrical? Is there agroove where the roller once was? Do you feel more of your body making contact with the floornow?Get up slowly with the same gentleness you did with the roller and notice your standingalignment. Are you taller? More weighted on your feet? Do you feel more balanced?Walk around to allow time to assume this new easy upright posture.This lesson has wide applications for many movement students. By heightening theclients sensitive to their spinal alignment, they will be prepared for their exercises and may avoid unwanted strain.

    6. Functional Integration/FI. The one on one work known as Functional Integration guides the student through movement templates that were studied in the ATMprocess. These tailored movements are specific to the individual to provide hot house conditions for learning. The class exercise for studying FI is a lab to study the effects you make when you move a body part for someone else and through taking over their work you access their proprioception differently.

    Some strategies to use with FI vs. manual therapy or stretching:a. Consciously focus your attention where it serves you best irrespective to where you are touching your client.b. Enlarge the overall pattern you are working with and

    instead of pushing and manipulating; try moving with your client, and observe the difference.

    c. Notice the distinction between treatment and exploration as tools for facilitating change.d. Explore changing your intention with the same movement technique and observe variation

    in the outcomes. e. Consider attending to the process as opposed to being goal directed.f. Disclaimer. It is important to point out that these FI drills that are used in this class are toprovide the student with a learning experience to understand the FM. By no means does thisimply that this student is able to practice as a Feldenkrais practitioner. FMP are trained inover 4 years in a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Training program that has a rigorous set ofstandards set forth to become a Feldenkrais practitioner. However, this reference examplewill hopefully encourage the student to work with their own experiential learning to be usedwith healthy clients to improve the students and their own learning experience withneuromuscular re-education.

    7. Neuroplasticity: Our brains love to learn. By definition, Neuro meaning brain;Plastic isfor changeable, malleable, modifiable. Science has shown that the brain is not only capableof this rich and surprising re-organization but that it also produces new neurons throughoutlife. It is no longer thought that our brains are hard wired and fixed. Feldenkrais drew fromthis phenomenon by introducing a method that could stimulate plasticity in the brain by themovement and the type of attention that was used. Through this method we can expand ourneural pathways to improve movement and performance. In the late 1970s, Eileen Bach y


  • Rita, a Feldenkrais trainer and former wife of Dr. Bach y Rita, a known neuro-physiologistand pioneer of neuroplasticity introduced these two scientists together. They shared theirunproved ideas with each other and today through current technology can be confirmedscientifically.

    8. Imagery: A form of Neuroplasticity. Kinesthetic imagery (also known as motor imagery)utilizes the same motor resources in the brain as in the actual doing. Motor Imagery vs.visual imagery, is the only imagery technique that alters the body maps in the same way thatphysical practice does. Relaxation, hypnosis, affirmation, prayer and other techniques mayhelp you in one way or another, but it will not alter the motor maps in the brain. This course isdesigned to help you train your awareness so you can access these skills better to altermovement outcomes.

    "Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary."

    ~ Blaise Pascal

    "I have no special talent.

    I am only passionately curious."

    - Albert Einstein