Research and the Feldenkrais Method
Cliff Smyth, MS, GCFT
While the outcomes for our clients and students are of prime importance, there is also a growing body of research evidence supporting the use of Feldenkrais Method for dealing with a variety of health conditions, and the development of greater abilities and skills in a variety of areas.
There have been around 60 published studies into the Feldenkrais Method with healthy adults and people with a variety of health challenges. A recent systematic review of 20 Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) identified 7 studies finding in favor of the Feldenkrais Method for improving balance in ageing populations. In addition, single studies reported significant positive effects in relation to:
– reduced perceived effort and increased comfort in movement
– improved body image perception
– improved dexterity.
No adverse effects were reported. The authors concluded: “Further research is required; however, in the mean time, clinicians and professionals may promote the use of Feldenkrais Method in populations interested in efficient physical performance and self-efficacy.” (Hillier & Worley, 2014, ‘Abstract’.)
A significant number of additional trails found significant outcomes in the areas of:
– pain intensity; and ability to manage pain
– quality of life (pain, role, emotional, functional)
– ability to do things that the person has had difficulty with (client specific functional outcomes)
– reduction in anxiety and mild depression (Buchanan, 2012; Smyth, 2012).
Health conditions that have been studied have included balance, mobility, and balance confidence, chronic pain, eating disorders, post stroke, MS, dystonia, bruxism, PMS, Altzheimers, tinnitus, fibromyalgia, and Parkinsons (Buchanan, 2012; Hillier & Worley, 2014; Smyth, 2012).
A number of qualitative studies interviewed participants in Feldenkrais programs and classes and found Feldenkrais helped them to:
– feel empowered to deal with their health conditions and resist pressures to do things that may cause pain or injury
– find ways to move with more ease and comfort, and less pain
– become more self-aware in everyday life, including how to avoid pain injury, rest when needed, be more aware of their movement and the needs of their body, etc.
– deal better with stress and to be more calm (Smyth, 2012).
A study of a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement program found the “lessons contained many elements consistent with current theories of motor skill acquisition and postural control” (Connors, Galea, Said & Remedios, 2010. ‘Abstract’).
Lists and a searchable database of research into the Feldenkrais Method can be found on the International Feldenkrais Federation website: http://feldenkrais-method.org/research/
Click here for brief article by Cliff Smyth on research on Feldenkrais Method for balance and mobility.
Buchanan, P. A. (2012). The Feldenkrais Method® of Somatic Education. In A. Bhattacharya (Ed.), A Compendium of Essays on Alternative Therapy (pp. 147-172). Rijeka, Croatia: InTech.
Connors, K. A., Galea, M. P., Said, C. M., Remedios, L. J. (2010). Feldenkrais Method balance classes based on principles of modern learning and postural control retraining: Qualitative research study. Physiotherapy, 96, 324-336. doi:10.1016/j.physio.2010.01.004
Hillier, S., & Worley, A. (2015). The Effectiveness of the Feldenkrais Method: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015, 12. doi: 10.1155/2015/752160
Smyth, C. (2012). The contribution of Feldenkrais Method to mind-body medicine. Master’s Thesis, Saybrook University, San Francisco, CA. [UMI Number: 1536829]