Finding Balance, Walking the Walk:
Research into Feldenkrais Method for balance and mobility
Cliff Smyth, MS, GCFT
We ask you to sense how you are standing and walking after class and individual sessions. Our aim is that any improvement in movement from the lesson can be noticed, and integrated into your action and your life.
There are several research studies, that show that Awareness Through Movement® lessons improve balance, gait, walking speed and moving from sitting to standing. These are some of the most studied outcomes from doing the Feldenkrais Method®
Between 2001 and 2014, six studies have been published, involving 50 to 70 participants. The students did Awareness Through Movement® between 8 and 32 hours, depending on the study. Statistically significant results were found for balance (such as, standing on a single leg, standing with one foot in front of the other, coming from sitting to standing without using the hands, and stepping between four squares marked on the floor). Tests of speed measured the time going from sitting to standing, and walking speed. These studies found improvements in other everyday activities, like reaching. In some studies, participants also felt more confident in their balance abilities. Other smaller investigations have shown improvements in balance and movement for people with multiple sclerosis and after a stroke.
Based partly on these results, in some places in Australia, funding has been given for Feldenkrais® classes for groups of seniors to keep them moving. They do a Feldenkrais® lesson, and then go for a walk together.
While your own experience of the Feldenkrais Method® is the most important test for you, it is good to know that there is growing research that supports our work and your experience .
We encourage you to find time after class for a short walk near the Center, or when you get home.
Published studies on Feldenkrais Method®, Balance, Gait, and Mobility
Batson, G., & Deutsch, J. E. (2005). Effects of Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement on balance in adults with chronic neurological deficits following stroke: A preliminary study. Complementary Health Practice Review, 10(3), 203-210. doi:10.1177/1533210105285516
Buchanan, P. A., & Vardaxis, V. G. (2000). Effects of Awareness Through Movement on balance during standing. Journal of Athletic Training, 35(2, Suppl.), S. 81.
Connors, K. A., Galea, M. P., & Said, C. M. (2011). Feldenkrais Method balance classes improved balance in older adults: A controlled trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 1-9. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep055
Gopal Nambi, S., Trivedi, P. S., Momin, S. M., Patel, S., & Pancholi, D. P. (2014). Comparative Effect of Pilates and Feldenkrais Intervention on Functional Balance and Quality of Life in Ambulatory Geriatric Population: A Randomized Controlled Study. International Journal of Health Sciences and Research (IJHSR), 4(3), 71-77.
Hall, S. E., Criddle, A., Ring, A., Bladen, C., Tapper, J., Yin, R.,...& Hu, Y-L. (2001). Study of the effects of various forms of exercise on balance in older women. In Research studies (n.p.). Portland, OR: Feldenkrais Educational Foundation of North America.
Hillier, S., Porter, L., Jackson, K., & Petkov, J. (2010). The effects of Feldenkrais classes on the health and function of an aging Australian sample: A pilot study. The Open Rehabilitation Journal, 3, 62-66.
Stephens, J., DuShuttle, D., Hatcher, C., Schmunes, J., & Slanika, C. (2001). Use of Awareness Through Movement improves balance and balance confidence in people with multiple sclerosis: A randomized controlled study. Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy, 25(2), 39-49.
Ullmann, G., Williams, H. G., Hussey, J., Durstine, J. L., & McClenaghan, P. E. D. (2008). Effects of Feldenkrais exercises on balance, mobility, balance confidence, and gait performance in community-dwelling adults age 64 and older. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(1), 97-105. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0612
Vrantsidis, F., Hill, K. D., Moore, K., Webb, R., Hunt, S., & Dowson, L. (2009). Getting grounded gracefully: Effectiveness and acceptability of Feldenkrais in improving balance. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 17(1), 57-76.
Cliff Smyth, 2015