Carolyn Palmer conducted in 2017 a prospective controlled intervention study assessing Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lessons for older adults. The average age of the participants was 76 years. 51 participants took twelve 60-min lessons across either 6 or 12 weeks, to compare lesson density, and 36 people were in control groups. Pre-tests and post-tests included Base of Support, Timed Up and Go, Tandem Stance, Functional Reach, modified OPTIMAL, and questions about individual priorities and outcomes. Results included significant correlations between lessons attended and both improved Functional Reach and improved OPTIMAL score. A significantly higher proportion of the movement (vs. control) group reported positive changes at the post-test in both prioritized and newly identified activities. These results show that Feldenkrais lessons are helpful to older adults for promoting balance, mobility, and confidence.
Palmer described how the Feldenkrais approach is distinguishable from other modalities in several ways: “The Feldenkrais method (FM) promotes “learning how to learn” (Feldenkrais, 1972), so that a person does not merely go through motions but learns how to apply processes of inquiry, variation, and discernment to any circumstance. Participants vary movements systematically, constantly differentiating one experience from another, particularly for discovering how to use less effort and find greater ease. Rather than conforming to an absolute or ideal action that might not even be possible for an individual, each person explores what an instruction means in their particular body on a given day, and thus the FM teaches a specific, self-regulated process. Finally, the FM scaffolds integration of lesson discoveries with everyday activity (e.g., turning while sitting, then standing, then walking)”.
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Alon, R. (1990). Mindful spontaneity. North Atlantic Books.
Feldenkrais, M. (1972). Awareness Through Movement. Harper&Row
Hillier, S., & Worley, A. (2015). The effectiveness of the Feldenkrais Method: A systematic review of the evidence. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Article ID. 752160. doi:10.1155/2015/752160
Interested in more US and international science-based studies about the benefits of Awareness Through Movement for your daily living skills:
A Swedish study with 14 women age 32-57 participated in 10 group sessions over a period of 6–7 weeks. All of them had reported musculoskeletal problems in combination with stress related symptoms such as sleeping difficulties and depression symptoms. Six of the participants were sick-listed, seven worked and one had taken early retirement.
The women feelings of improved body awareness remained after 4–6 months. They were also more aware of their attitudes towards activities in daily life. This resulted in them not “sacrificing themselves” as they did before. In addition, the bodily and psychological changes and the concept of empowerment are discussed. Concern voiced where about performing the exercises at home.