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Feldenkrais® Practice for People With Osteoarthritis

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Feb 12, 2014

Mind-Body-Spirit News

The Feldenkrais Method® may offer valuable and suitable conditioning for older adults with osteoarthritis, who often suffer from pain and reduced mobility.

In a recent study available in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1155/2013/479142), subjects experienced improvements in gait and in ease of movement from participation in a 30-week series of Feldenkrais classes. Investigators from the University of Melbourne in Parkville, Australia, and from the Merri Community Health Services in Coburg, Australia, conducted the study to determine whether adults with osteoarthritis, living independently, would improve mobility, function, balance, quality of life, and pain by participating in a series of Feldenkrais Method classes.

Researchers enrolled 15 participants (average age, 67) into an Awareness Through Movement® series of two 1-hour classes per week, conducted in three 10-week segments. A Feldenkrais practitioner designed the series to improve hip, knee and ankle function, in particular. Segment 1 focused on developing movement awareness; segment 2 on function of the pelvis and lower limbs; segment 3 on improving balance and walking. Investigators assessed subjects for physical function, dynamic balance, leg power, endurance, quality of life, health status, and type and extent of physical activity at base line and at completion of the 30-week program.

In a recent study available in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1155/2013/479142), subjects experienced improvements in gait and in ease of movement from participation in a 30-week series of Feldenkrais classes. Investigators from the University of Melbourne in Parkville, Australia, and from the Merri Community Health Services in Coburg, Australia, conducted the study to determine whether adults with osteoarthritis, living independently, would improve mobility, function, balance, quality of life, and pain by participating in a series of Feldenkrais Method classes.

Data analysis showed specific improvements in the Four Square Step Test, which measures dynamic balance and changes in gait that researchers think are related to a significant reduction in anterior pelvic tilt. Participant self-reports reflected significant improvements in the ability to accomplish normal everyday tasks and in feelings of well-being.

Limitations of the study included its small sample size, lack of a control group, self-selection by participants who responded to an ad for Feldenkrais classes, and a greater proportion of women than men. In light of the positive findings, the researchers recommended that more research be done on the topic.

To watch a video showing the study participants doing the exercises, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9tf21itKuE&feature=youtu.be.

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 11, Issue 3

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA’s mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author base...