Feldenkrais Method

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The Feldenkrais Method is a type of exercise therapy devised by Israeli Moshé Feldenkrais (1904–1984) during the mid-20th century. The method is claimed to reorganize connections between the brain and body and so improve body movement and psychological state.[1][2]

According to the Australian Government's Department of Health, there is no reliable medical evidence that the Feldenkrais method improves health outcomes. It is not known if it is safe or cost-effective,[3] but researchers do not believe it poses serious risks.[2]

Description[edit]

The Feldenkrais Method is a type of alternative exercise therapy that proponents claim can repair impaired connections between the motor cortex and the body, so benefiting the quality of body movement and improving wellbeing.[1] According to David Gorski, the Feldenkrais Guild of North America claims that the Feldenkrais method allows people to "rediscover [their] innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement" and that "These improvements will often generalize to enhance functioning in other aspects of [their] life".[4] Proponents claim that the Feldenkrais Method can benefit people with a number of medical conditions, including children with autism, and people with multiple sclerosis. However, no studies in which participants were clearly identified as having an autism spectrum disorder or developmental disabilities have been presented to back these claims.[5]

Students at the San Francisco Feldenkrais Practitioner Training doing an Awareness Through Movement lesson (1975)

Effectiveness and reception[edit]

In 2015, the Australian Government's Department of Health published the results of a review of alternative therapies that sought to determine if any were suitable for being covered by health insurance; the Feldenkrais Method was one of 17 therapies evaluated for which no clear evidence of effectiveness was found.[3] Accordingly in 2017 the Australian government identified the Feldenkrais Method as a practice that would not qualify for insurance subsidy, saying this step would "ensure taxpayer funds are expended appropriately and not directed to therapies lacking evidence".[6]

The Feldenkrais Method is promoted with anecdotal claims it can help children with autism and other developmental disorders, but such claims are not backed by reputable supporting evidence.[7]

There is limited evidence that workplace-based use of the Feldenkrais Method may help aid rehabilitation of people with upper limb complaints.[8]

David Gorski has written that the Method bears similarities to faith healing, is like "glorified yoga", and that it "borders on quackery".[4] Quackwatch places the Feldenkrais Method on its list of "Unnaturalistic methods".[9]

History[edit]

From the 1950s till his death in 1984, he taught continuously in his home city of Tel Aviv. Feldenkrais gained recognition in part through media accounts of his work with prominent individuals, including Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.[10] Beginning in the late 1950s, Feldenkrais made trips to teach in Europe and America. Several hundred people became certified Feldenkrais practitioners through trainings he held in San Francisco from 1975 to 1978 and in Amherst, Massachusetts, from 1980 to 1984.[11]

Influences[edit]

In David Kaetz's biography, Making Connections: Roots and Resonance in the Life of Moshe Feldenkrais (2007), he argues many lines of influence can be found between the Judaism of Feldenkrais's upbringing and the Feldenkrais Method – for instance, the use of paradox as a pedagogical tool.[12]

Feldenkrais was critical of the appropriation of the term 'energy' to express immeasurable phenomena or to label experiences that people had trouble describing ... He was impatient when someone invoked energy in pseudoscientific 'explanations' that masked a lack of understanding. In such cases he urged skepticism and scientific discourse. He encouraged empirical and phenomenological narratives that could lead to insights.

Cybernetics, also known as dynamic systems theory, continued to influence the Feldenkrais Method in the 1990s through the work of human development researcher Esther Thelen.[13]:1535

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Stalker D, Glymour C, eds. (1989). Examining Holistic Medicine. Prometheus Books. p. 373. ISBN 9780879755539. a system of exercise therapy developed in the 1940s by former judo instructor Moshe Feldenkrais
  2. ^ a b Singh, Simon; Ernst, Edzard (2008). Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial. Bantam Press. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-59306-129-9.
  3. ^ a b Baggoley, Chris (2015). "Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Natural Therapies for Private Health Insurance" (PDF). Australian Government – Department of Health. ISBN 978-1-76007-171-4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 August 2020. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b Gorski D (6 August 2009). "M.D. Anderson enters the blogosphere–and goes woo". Scienceblogs—Respectful Insolence. Archived from the original on 6 May 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  5. ^ Collet-Klingenberg, Lana (31 October 2014). "Treatment Intervention Advisory Committee Review and Determination" (PDF). Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 January 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2020. In sum, it is the decision of the committee that Feldenkrais Theraphy does not have a study in which participants were clearly identified as having and autism spectrum disorder or developmental disability and no no authoritative bodies hace recognized the treatment as having emerging evidence...
  6. ^ Paola S (17 October 2017). "Homeopathy, naturopathy struck off private insurance list". Australian Journal of Pharmacy. Archived from the original on 18 April 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Treatment Intervention Advisory Committee Review and Determination" (PDF). Wisconsin Department of Health Services Autism and other Developmental Disabilities Treatment Intervention Advisory Committee. 28 April 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 November 2020. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  8. ^ Hoosain M, de Klerk S, Burger M (2018). "Workplace-Based Rehabilitation of Upper Limb Conditions: A Systematic Review". J Occup Rehabil (Systematic review). 29 (1): 175–193. doi:10.1007/s10926-018-9777-7. hdl:10019.1/103897. PMID 29796982. S2CID 44087712. Archived from the original on 21 April 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022. Workplace-based work hardening, case manager training and Feldenkrais should be implemented with caution, as only one study supported each of these interventions.
  9. ^ Raso J (25 March 2007). "Unnaturalistic Methods: F-G". Quackwatch. Archived from the original on 14 March 2021. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  10. ^ Lori, Aviva. "Ben Gurion's Personal Trainer". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 3 May 2016. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
  11. ^ Keller, Jon; Freer, Bonnie. "His Methods May Seem Bizarre, But Thousands Swear by Mind-Body Guru Moshe Feldenkrais". people.com. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  12. ^ Kaetz, David (2014). Making Connections: Roots and Resonance in the Life and Teachings of Moshe Feldenkrais (2nd ed.). Hornby Island, Canada: River Centre Publishing. pp. 13–15, 27–28. ISBN 978-0-9784014-2-9.
  13. ^ Spencer, John P.; Clearfield, M.; Corbetta, D.; Ulrich, B.; Buchanan, P.; Schöner, G. (November 2006). "Moving Toward a Grand Theory of Development: In Memory of Esther Thelen - Spencer - 2006 - Child Development - Wiley Online Library". Child Development. 77 (6): 1521–1538. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00955.x. PMID 17107442. Archived from the original on 15 July 2021.