Research on the Feldenkrais Method®
There is a growing body of research to support the effectiveness of the Feldenkrais Method. The following summaries and references represent a sampling of the many studies that have been conducted.
Patients who had been experiencing chronic pain participated in a six-week Awareness Through Movement® course. Results included significant increases mobility accompanied by significant decreases in pain both immediately following the course, and in a one-year follow-up. Patients also reported less depression and anxiety, and an improved ability to relax.
Dearman, D. and Shafarman, S. The Feldenkrais Method in the Treatment Awareness Through Movement of Chronic Pain: A Study of Efficacy and Cost-Effectiveness. American Journal of Pain Management, 1999; 9:22-27.
Phipps, A., and Lopez, Ron. A functional Outcome Study on the Use of Movement Re-Education in Chronic Pain Management. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Physical Therapy, Forest Grove, Oregon. May 1997.
Prior to and following a 6-week Feldenkrais program, stroke patients who had chronic neurological deficits were evaluated using the Berg Balance Scale, improving an average of 11%. They also improved, on average, 55.2% in the Dynamic Gait Index and 35% in the Stroke Impact Recovery Scale. Findings demonstrate that gains in functional mobility are possible for individuals with chronic stroke using Feldenkrais movement therapy.
Effects of Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement on Balance in Adults With Chronic Neurological Deficits Following Stroke: A Preliminary Study Glenna Batson, PT, MA.
A study with older women demonstrated improvement in the Burg Balance Scale as well as improved walking speed, movement time, and quicker correction of balance. Participants also reported greater confidence and strength.
Hall, S.E., Criddle, A., Ring, A., Bladen, C., Tapper, J., Yin, R., Cosgrove, A., Hu, Yu-Li. Study of the effects of various forms of exercise on balance in older women. Unpublished Manuscript Healthway Starter Grant, File #7672, Dept of Rehabilitation, Sir Charles Gardner Hospital, Nedlands, Western Australia, 1999.
Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration® lessons have been shown to help patients avoid developing protective, maladaptive patterns to an injury. In other words, Feldenkrais lessons can be instrumental in helping patients form beneficial and adaptive patterns during recovery integrating total body movement into the recovery process.
Chinn, J., Trujillo, D., Kegerreis, S., Worrell, T. Effect of a Feldenkrais Intervention on Symptomatic Subjects Performing a Functional Reach. Isokinetics and Exercise Science. 1994, 4(4): 131-136.
Patients with Fibromyalgia moved more easily, efficiently and with less effort after learning to reorganize the biomechanics of their movements during 15 weeks of Feldenkrais sessions and classes. Immediately following, and six months after completion of the class, improvements in balance, posture and gait were reported. Also reported were reduced pain, increased sleep and reduction in fatigue.
Dean, J. R., Yuen, S. A. & Barrows, SA. "Effects of a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Sequence on Fibromyalgia Patients".
Kendall, S. A. Ekselius, L. Gerdle, B., Soren, B., Bengtsson, A. Feldenkrais intervention in fibromyalgia patients: a pilot study. J. Musculoskeletal Pain. 9(4):25-35, 2001.
In one study, steadiness and comfort with daily movements, self-esteem and overall quality of life improved in patients with Multiple Sclerosis who used Feldenkrais bodywork and/or participated in Awareness Through Movement sessions.
In another study, a group of patients with Multiple Sclerosis participated in an Awareness Through Movement group. The results demonstrated significantly improved mCTSIB scores and improved balance confidence compared to controls. There was a marked improvement in all other measures in the Awareness Through Movement group compared to controls. Results: This type of motor learning intervention can be effective in improving a variety of physical and psychological parameters related to balance and postural control in patients with MS.
Bost, H., Burges, S., Russell, R., Ruttinger, H. and Schlafke, U. Feldstudie zur wiiksamkeit der Feldenkrais-Method bei MS - Betroffenen. Deutche Multiple Sklerose Gesellschaft. Saarbrucken, German, 1994.
Stephens, J., DuShuttle, D., Hatcher, C., Shmunes, J., Slaninka, C. Use of Awareness Through Movement improves balance and balance confidence in people with multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled study. Neurology Report 25(2):39-49, 2001.
Low Back Pain
After four Feldenkrais sessions, 76% of participants with chronic low back pain improved to normal activity. All had tried a variety of other therapies without success and all had experienced discomfort, restriction and stiffness prior to these sessions.
Lake, Bernard. Photoanalysis of Standing Posture in Controls and Low Back Pain: Effects of Kinesthetic Processing (Feldenkrais Method) in Posture and Gait: Control Mechanisms VII. eds. M Woollocott and F Horak, U of Oregon Press, 1992, pp 400- 403.
Neck & Shoulder Pain
Thirty normal female employees took part in a neck and shoulder pain study, participating in six weeks of Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes. Results included increased range of motion in a neck flexion task, significant positive changes in the neck-shoulders-index, and a decrease in complaints from neck and shoulders.
Lundblad, I., Elert, J., Gerdle, B. Randomized controlled trial of physiotherapy and Feldenkrais interventions in female workers with neck-shoulder complaints. J. Occupat Rehab 9(3): 179-94, 1999.
Ruth, S., Kegerreis, S. Facilitating Cervical Flexion Using a Feldenkrais Method Awareness Through Movement. J Sports Phys Ther.16(1): 25-29, 1992.
A subject with Rheumatoid Arthritis participated in several Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement sessions. As a result, the patient learned to rise from a chair without assistance from the upper extremities and to use less kinetic energy. Walking speed increased and there was a 30% decrease in pain intensity. Findings: Awareness Through Movement lessons improve functional movements in spite of long term disability.
Twenty-one subjects with Rheumatoid Arthritis were tested after a series of Awareness Through Movement lessons. The results: a significant change in both the muscle activity and the perceived effort of the task (using electromyographic equipment during trunk flexion.) Two years post-treatment, a large percentage of subjects had increased function, continued to maintain higher levels of function, continued to use the skills they learned, and felt that the Feldenkrais lessons helped them with their pain problem.
Narula, M., Jackson, O., Kulig, K. The Effects of Six Week of Feldenkrais Method on Selected Functional Parameters in a Subject with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Physical Therapy 72: (suppl.) S86,1992.
Narula, M. Effect of Six Weeks of Awareness Through Movement Lessons on Selected Functional Movements Parameters in Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis (A Pilot Study Using Single Subject Case Study Design). Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science in Exercise Science, Oakland University, Rochester, MI: 1993.
This study demonstrates that the disabilities of Parkinson's Disease can be lessened with early Feldenkrais intervention as gains are made in musculoskeletal flexibility, alignment, and functional movement. Early intervention is important and can delay the need for pharmacological intervention, which, because of long-term use, is associated with potentially unwanted and toxic side effects. The study illustrates improvements in balance, gait, and functional movement made by an individual who was not yet receiving medication for Parkinson's disease. A second case study illustrates improvements of balance gait and functional movement made by an individual who was already receiving medication for the disease. These case studies illustrate the dramatic improvements that Feldenkrais intervention can achieve in the patient with Parkinson's disease.
Shenkman, M., Donovan, J., Tsubota, J., Kluss, M., Stebbins, P., Butler, R. Management of Individuals with Parkinson's Disease: Rationale and Case Studies. Physical Therapy 69: 944-955, 1989.
Wendell, L. L. Some effects of the Feldenkrais Method on Parkinson's symptoms and function. Unpublished case study by L. L. Wendell client and Marilyn Johnson, Feldenkrais Practitioner. June 2000.
Anxiety, Depression and Mood
Early research suggests that participation in a single Awareness Through Movement session may reduce anxiety levels, with increased effects after six to eight sessions. A study involving 147 female general curriculum and physical education teachers enrolled in a one-year enrichment program at a physical education college revealed improved mood after Feldenkrais lessons. Feldenkrais lessons seem to ease depression and anxiety, and improve self-esteem in multiple sclerosis patients.
Kerr, G. A., Kotynia, F., Kolt, G. Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement and state anxiety. J Bodywork Mov Ther 2002;6(2):102-107.
Kolt, G. S., McConville, J.C. The effects of Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement program on state anxiety. J Bodywork Mov Ther 2000;4(3):216-220.
Netz, Y., Lidor, R. Mood Alterations in mindful versus aerobic exercise modes. J Psychol 2003;137(5):405-419.
A group of 31 older adults were studied using a prospective, repeated measures control group design. The SF-36 was used to assess health status - the quality of life. Video motion analysis was used to collect data on walking and on a floor-to-stand transfer movement. Coordination of the transfer movement improved significantly in the Feldenkrais group. Vitality and mental health scores also improved significantly in this group. The Feldenkrais Method has been shown to be an effective method for improving coordination, mobility, the economy of movement, and quality of life in older adults.
James Stephens, Christopher Pendergast, Beth Ann Roller, Robert Scott Weiskittel. Learning to Improve Mobility and Quality of Life in a Well Elderly Population: The Benefits of Awareness Through Movement. IFF Academy Feldenkrais Research Journal.
Preliminary research suggests that in patients with eating disorders, Awareness Through Movement sessions improved self-confidence and increased contentment with regard to problematic zones of their body. Patients experienced increased sense of contentment in regard to their health, accompanied by decreased sense of helplessness.
Laumer, U., Bauer, M., Fichter, M., Milz, H. (in German. Title translation: Therapeutic effects of the Feldenkrais Method Awareness Through Movement in Patients with Eating Disorders). Psychother. Psychosom Med Psychol 1997, May; 47(5):170-80.
Studies identified increased flexibility through the use of Awareness Through Movement classes. In a study of neck flexion in normal subjects, a significant increase in the amount of flexion after a single one-hour class was shown, as well as significant positive changes in muscular activity in the trunk.
Ruth, S., Kegerreis, S. Facilitating Cervical Flexion Using Feldenkrais Method: Awareness Through Movement. JOSPT Vol 16 No 1: July 1992.
Brown, E., Kegerreis. Electromyographic Activity of Trunk Musculature During a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Lesson. Isokinetics and Exercise Science Vol 1 No 4, 1991.