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Feldenkrais® Practice for People With Osteoarthritis

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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.



Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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