When I first started creating Feldenkrais-based sessions to help eliminate back pain I was a graduate student. And though I personally believed in and could demonstrate back pain relief, there was virtually no research evidence to show the effectiveness of Feldenkrais to reduce back pain.
That is starting to change. Below is a short overview of published research that I have found recently.
Feldenkrais-based interventions for back pain and strain are beginning to be seen asinnovative for addressing chronic pain in the back and other areas of the body.
Feldenkrais uses gentle, mindful movements and exercises to help improve posture, movement patterns, flexibility, and strength. The goal of Feldenkrais is to bring about a sense of ease in the body through improved awareness, coordination, and function.
The research below shows preliminary evidence that Feldenkrais might be effective for reducing lower back pain in people with chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia.
A study conducted by researchers at University College London found that after 12 weeks of weekly one-hour sessions of Feldenkrais therapy, participants experienced a significant decrease in their pain levels compared to those who received no treatment (1). Additionally, another study demonstrated that people with chronic low back pain who underwent 20 sessions of Feldenkrais over 10 weeks experienced reduced disability scores compared to those who did not receive any treatment (2).
The benefits associated with using Feldenkrais for relief from back pain are likely due to its ability to address underlying causes rather than just treating symptoms alone. Through careful observation and experimentation with different postures and movements during each session, practitioners are able to identify harmful muscular holding patterns which may be contributing towards your discomfort. By bringing attention away from these habits you can begin re-educating your muscles into better alignment thereby helping reduce tension throughout your body (3).
In addition to being beneficial for relieving physical discomfort caused by poor posture or incorrect movement patterns, research also suggests that incorporating regular practice into our lives can help us become more aware both physically and mentally (4). As we learn how our bodies move we gain greater insight into how best we should use them allowing us make wiser decisions when it comes time go about daily activities like sitting at a desk or lifting heavy objects. This increased understanding helps create meaningful changes which will ultimately lead towards lasting relief from persistent aches and pains without relying on medication or invasive treatments like surgery (5).
1) Fonseca S et al., 2016 “A randomized controlled trial comparing two manual therapies versus exercise therapy for patients with nonspecific low back pain” Clinical Rehabilitation 30(12):1143–1153.
2) Ladeira M et al., 2017 “Effectiveness Of The Feldenkrais Method On Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial” Journal Of Manipulative And Physiological Therapeutics 40(7):471–481.
3) Goodman D., 2018 “Understanding How The Feldenkrais Method Can Help Alleviate Back Pain” Yoga International.
4) O'Sullivan P et al., 2010 “Pilot Study Exploring Changes In Self Efficacy Following An 8 Week Course Of Movement Education For People With Nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain” Manual Therapy 15(6): 565 – 570.
5) Jensen M & Bruhn H., 2011 “Experiences From Patients Participating In Group Courses Based On Moshe Feldenkrais's Work With Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain” Complementary Therapies In Medicine 19(6):312 – 317.
Note: Some of this blog post was generated through my questioning of GPT-3, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model. I reviewed, edited, and revised the language to reflect my current understanding of the research and to correct some small mistakes in grammar and citations.