Mensendieck system

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The Mensendieck system is a therapeutic movement technique that is both corrective and preventative. It was invented by German medical doctor Bess M. Mensendieck (c.1866–1959), who developed a series of exercises to reshape, rebuild and revitalize the body and relieve pain.[1][2]

She published several books on the subject starting with Körperkultur der Frau [Physical Culture of the Woman], 1906.[3]

A student of the approach learns to use his conscious will to relax muscles and release tension. There are more than 200 exercises that emphasize correct and graceful body movement through everyday activities such as housework. The work is done undressed or in a bikini bottom, in front of mirrors which allows the student to observe and feel where a movement originates.[1]

Between the 1930s and 1950s the system gained some popularity among Hollywood stars. Ingrid Bergman, Fredric March, Gloria Swanson and Cissy Pascal, the wife of novelist Raymond Chandler all endorsed the Mensendieck system.[4]


  1. ^ a b Movement Therapy at Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition. 2009. Retrieved July 2012
  2. ^ Seeing Your Way to Health: The Visual Pedagogy of Bess Mensendieck's Physical Culture System by Robin Vedera, International Journal of the History of Sport Volume 28, Issue 8-9, 2011 Special Issue: Sport and the Visual. * pages 1336-1352. Retrieved July 2012
  3. ^ Bess Mensendieck Jeroen Staring, An Alexander Technique Notebook. Retrieved July 2012
  4. ^ Greatest thriller of them all: How Raymond Chandler was driven to madness by his love for an opium smoking nudist, David Leafe, Daily Mail 21 July 2012,


  • I. Klemmetsen, The Mensendieck system of functional movements (Eleven International Publishing is part of Boom uitgevers Den Haag 2005). ISBN 905931395X.
  • Bess M. Mensendieck, Look better, feel better: The world-renowned Mensendieck system of functional movements - for a youthful body and vibrant health (New York: Harper, 1954). [1]
  • Bess M. Mensendieck, Korperkulture des Weibes: Praktisch hygienische und praltische asthetische winke (Munich: F. Brukmann, 1906).
  • Its up to you (New York: Mensendieeck System main School, 1931).
  • The Mensendieck system of Functional exercises (Portland, ME: The Southworth-Anthoesen Press, 1937).
  • Nancy Lee Chalfa Ruyter, The Cultivation of Body and mind in Nineteenth-century American Delsartism (Contributions to the Study of Music & Dance) (Greenwood press, 1999), pages 67–71. [2]
  • Marion E.P. de Ras, Body, Femininity and Nationalism: Girls in the German Youth Movement 1900-1934 (Routledge, 2007), pages 68–72. ISBN 0415182557.