Women with neck and shoulder pain who participate in a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® program may experience more movement ability, more body awareness and more feelings of self-confidence, suggests a study published in the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (2011; 15, 153–61). In Sweden, musculoskeletal disorders are the main reason working men and women take long-term sick leave and early retirement. Back and neck pain require the most care from physiotherapists. Past studies of people with neck and shoulder pain have shown that treatments that improve a patient’s functional ability and perception of self-efficacy produce the best lasting results.
Against this backdrop, researchers from Umeå University in Umeå, Sweden, studied the impact of participation in a Feldenkrais group class on the subjective feelings of women with neck and shoulder pain. The scientists wanted to determine whether group Feldenkrais sessions would help these women feel more confident about their ability to manage and care for their own neck and shoulder conditions.
For this qualitative study, investigators recruited 14 women, aged 32–57, with nonspecific neck and shoulder pain, to participate in 10 Awareness Through Movement sessions over a 6- to 7-week period. Participants recorded their thoughts and experiences after each session. Investigators interviewed all but one participant within 4–6 months after the group classes ended.
Data analysis revealed several consistent themes. Physically, the women experienced pain relief, improvements in posture and a reduction in muscle tension. Mentally and emotionally, they reported feeling more liberated, having more body awareness and being more willing to listen to their bodies and to respect restrictions. An important psychological change among participants was a strengthened self-image and feeling of self-reliance. Participants had a difficult time remembering how to do exercises outside class, prompting requests for an independent program, but they felt that with more instruction, they would recall the activities. “
The most important message from this study is that the women got knowledge, experience and pedagogical tools to understand and manage their own health problems,” said study author Eva-Britt Malmgren-Olsson, PhD, lecturer at the physiotherapy program at Umeå University.