Feldenkrais is a type of bodywork developed by a Russian-born physicist named Moshé Feldenkrais. It focuses on comfortable and efficient body movements. It is claimed to relieve pain, decrease stress, and improve balance and coordination.
Feldenkrais is learned initially through Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons. These lessons focus attention on the movement of certain body parts in simple activities, such as bending and walking. Very structured movements are required, and particular emphasis is placed on the position of the head. Functional Integration (FI), another type of Feldenkrais, involves an instructor who manipulates a patient’s body during movement in order to develop more efficient movements. Feldenkrais can be modified for those with disabilities.
Evaluation in MS and Other Conditions
There is little data available on the efficacy of Feldenkrais. One small study at the University of North Carolina, involving 20 people with MS, found no improvement in many MS symptoms or overall level of function. Feldenkrais did reduce stress and anxiety in this study. Some research in people without MS has suggested that Feldenkrais can lead to increased neck flexibility. Limited study has been done concerning the treatment of other conditions with Feldenkrais.
Feldenkrais is generally well tolerated.
Feldenkrais is a generally safe, moderate-cost therapy. The research concerning its effectiveness is limited, but some studies suggest reduced anxiety, decreased levels of stress, and improvement in neck flexibility are possible with Feldenkrais. This work is not definitive, and more studies need to be conducted.
References and Additional Reading
Bowling AC. Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2007, pp. 115-116.
Kowalak JP, Mills EJ, eds. Professional Guide to Complementary and Alternative Therapies. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Publishing, 2001, pp. 203–205.
Johnson SK, Frederick J, Kaufman M, et al. A controlled investigation of bodywork in multiple sclerosis. J Alt Complem Med 1999;5:237–243.