Feldenkrais: How a Soccer Injury Led to Moshe’s Revolutionary Healing Insights

Feldenkrais Thought He Was Going Crazy – Here's Why

There’s an essential origin story, often misunderstood, that is crucial for understanding Moshe Feldenkrais and the development of his groundbreaking ideas.

Have you heard this one?

In his mid-twenties, Moshe injured his knee playing soccer. The injury was severe, leaving him incapacitated for months. To get around, he resorted to hopping and limping on his uninjured leg.

But one day, he slipped and hurt his good leg.

That night, he went to bed thinking he might be bedridden and in a world of trouble. How would he work? How would he get to school? But when he woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, he found he could stand on his previously injured leg.

He could put his body weight on it and walk. The trauma to his good knee seemed to make the injured leg more functional.

It didn't make any sense.

Many years later, Moshe wrote:

"For fear of ridicule, I spoke to nobody and remained unsure of what had happened. I was convinced there was something mentally wrong with me, as the healing of the knee in hours was unthinkable, and yet the mishap to the good knee had improved the sick one."

More than a decade later, Moshe discovered the work of Russian neurophysiologist Alexander A. Speransky. He began to understand that learning and rehabilitation were not just muscular processes.

Speransky provided evidence that the nervous system itself could change independently of muscles and joints. Feldenkrais used this idea repeatedly when learning Judo, teaching others Judo, and eventually creating the sessions now known as "Awareness Through Movement."

By the way, someone else was exploring a similar phenomenon around this time – Milton H. Erickson.

People would come to Erickson with paralysis in certain parts of the body that had no known physical cause. Through hypnotic and somatic methods, Erickson taught them to move the paralysis to different parts of the body. Like Feldenkrais, he demonstrated the profound, often untapped potential of the nervous system to influence physical function and healing.

I realize this might sound a bit too weird for some folks.

We’ll dive deeper in future posts.

Stay curious,


P.S. I first started writing this post months ago but couldn’t find the exact quote until I saw it in my PDF copy of "The Potent Self." The Potent Self was published after Moshe's death. It has some useful insights if you are interested in Feldenkrais and Somatics.