Saturday, June 27, 2009

Improve Balance with the FELDENKRAIS METHOD

The feet of a tightrope walker.Image via Wikipedia

Last week, an exciting new study was published: "Feldenkrais Method® Balance Classes Improve Balance in Older Adults: A Controlled Trial."

Although it's not light reading, the introduction to the study provides a clear description of the Feldenkrais Method, and how it helps people to improve their functioning in balance. Your motor skills, usually the focus of traditional therapies, are improved by improved sensory awareness. The Feldenkrais Method specifically improves the kinesthetic sense (awareness of HOW you move) and overall coordination, which are NOT usually included in a comprehensive way in traditional therapies.

To quote briefly from the study: "Twenty-six participants in the treatment group engaged in twice-weekly Feldenkrais classes that were specifically tailored to address balance issues. The combination of exercises was named "Getting Grounded Gracefully," and lasted a total of 10 weeks. An "activities specific" questionnaire, a physical test known as the Four Square Step Test (FSST), and "self-selected gait speed" (walking speed) were assessed before and after the trial."

The results? "All measures of balance and mobility were improved in the Feldenkrais treatment group. In addition, most of the active participants noted benefits with regard to body image and a greater ability to engage in everyday activities, such as walking pets and climbing slopes." (Healthy Fellow)

While the new study dealt with older adults experiencing difficulties with balance, there's another perspective on balance from the world of fashion. Coming soon to a city near you: "How to Walk in High Heels using the Feldenkrais Method." You'll learn how to walk in high heels with safety and comfort. Here's a video story from Good Morning America about one such workshop in New York City. (Click to play.) Houston, Texas holds a High Heels workshop coming to the NiaMoves Studio in the Heights on July 18. Click here to register.

The sense of balance is perhaps our most essential sense. Anyone, young or old, can improve balance with the Feldenkrais Method.

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