Help for Children
You can live with the discomfort, but why should you have to?
You have options.
Chronic pain can be physically limiting and emotionally draining. What is often not understood about pain is that it can be caused by habits of movement and the way we use our body. Over time, we don't sense our habits, they become familiar and automatic. To get rid of the pain, we need to interrupt and replace these patterns, and the first step is awareness.
I have helped people overcome chronic problems as well as to recover from recent injuries. Through gentle movements and verbal direction, we will take advantage of the brain's amazing ability to heal itself. By slowing down and finding alternative, more comfortable ways of moving, your brain can recognize and adopt the improvements. This leads to better balance, less strain on joints and muscles, and graceful, pain-free movement. As you continue to learn and evolve, the pain subsides, and you restore capabilities you thought were lost. Back to top
When our muscles are tight, we feel stiff and sore and our movement is restricted. Usually, someone recommends stretching. A growing body of research, however, shows that stretching may not be the best way to improve mobility. (Reynolds, Gretchen. “Phys Ed: How Necessary Is Stretching?” New York Times Well Blog, Nov 25, 2009)
When we try to force a muscle to relax by stretching it, we are applying force against an actively-contracted muscle and we trigger an automatic "stretch reflex". When sensory receptors in the muscle detect stretching, our brain responds by sending messages to activate further muscular contraction as protection from injury. Further tightening makes movement more difficult.
This can lead to increased pain and possible injury to the muscle.
Based on research that explains how the brain controls our movement, there is new understanding about how to enhance flexibility. For increased mobility, we need to provide our nervous system with new information so that improved movement patterns can be created to replace bad habits that cause short, tight muscles. By increasing body awareness and by introducing varied movements done gently and with attention, we can experience greater freedom and mobility.
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Our balance can degrade over time with age or injury. We become afraid of falling and become stiff and more hesitant. When we're stiff, we're less able to adjust to changes in terrain as we walk, and falling becomes more likely. Our fear increases, our confidence declines and the cycle is reinforced.
There are complex systems in our brains that allow us to balance in the constant force of gravity. Fortunately, there is much we can do to improve the functioning of these complex systems since they respond well to exercises designed to improve balance. Whether you're active or sedentary, the right activities can help improve strength and balance at any age.
Working together, we can improve your ability to balance by improving your sense of where you are in space. Practicing slow movements that shift your weight from one limb to another, you gain greater control and dynamic stability. As your movement becomes easier and more efficient, you become more mobile, especially in your joints. These improvements allow your body to adjust dynamically as you stand, walk, bend over, or stretch.
If you are ready to protect yourself from falling and increase your confidence and mobility, let's talk about the next steps you can take to improve your balance. Back to top
Stress Reduction and Wellbeing
The daily grind can leave us stressed out and exhausted. The cumulative result of stress or trauma can be constant muscle tension that we unintentionally hold in our bodies. This can lead to spasms, pain, migraines, and other forms of chronic pain. Patterns of tension are "learned" in response to the emotional experience of stress. After a while, we hold these patterns without realizing we are doing so.
The good news is that we can replace harmful habits and adopt healthy ways to live under the demands of our stressful environment.
Through our work together, you can discover new ways to move that don't cause unnecessary muscular contraction. By releasing muscle tension, breathing deepens and slows, and this change sends a signal to the brain to relax. This triggers additional reactions in our nervous system and the stress cycle is interrupted. We feel calm, and more at ease.
With my guidance, you can explore different ways to "let go" of the tension, and discover ways to move and live that lead to increased energy levels and deep feelings of wellbeing. Back to top
Strength and Agility
People often associate strength with muscle size. To increase strength, the common approach is to hit the gym to perform repetitive weight bearing exercises. This can be helpful if done carefully and with awareness. But building large biceps or quads doesn't always lead to graceful, powerful movement. Sometimes it leads to poor habits, stiffness, excessive load on the joints and injury.
The Feldenkrais Method (r) offers a different way to increase strength as well as agility. By learning to move more efficiently, we reduce effort and strain, and something surprising happens. We perceive that we have become stronger.
Moving efficiently means that we create the desired amount of power with the least amount of expended effort. This reduction of effort sends a powerful message to the nervous system -- that the force created by the use of a muscle (and related movement) is safe. Perceiving that a movement is safe, your system can recruit all associated muscles in order to create additional force. When an action poses a potential threat, however, your nervous system protects you by applying powerful brakes to the movement. We experience this as pain or muscle weakness.
When we learn to reduce muscular efforts, and become more aware of our actions, we wake up parts of ourselves that can participate to make our movements safer, easier and more pleasurable. Running, lifting, or bending no longer poses a threat to our system, instead, the message coming from the brain signals that it's okay to run even faster or reach even higher. Back to top
Do you remember people telling you to "stand up straight" or "stop slouching"? Do you wonder why that advice, although memorable and persistent, is rarely effective, for kids or adults?
Changing our habits is not just a matter of willing ourselves to change. Conscious efforts like this usually fail. In fact, most posture advice we have heard throughout our lives leads to undesirable military-like patterns of tight bellies, straight backs and locked knees. These one-size-fits-all rules can lead to problems: stiffness in the chest, chronic pain in the lower back and shoulder discomfort. We feel off-balance, weak and clumsy. This is far from the graceful, balanced posture we'd like to have.
Posture is not static, it actually consists of constant subtle movement. By learning to move with greater awareness, we can improve our ability to move quickly, in response to changes in our position, without strain. Focusing on your sense of verticality while introducing moves that connect your upper and lower body, I can help you discover your own true, balanced posture that gives you dynamic stability and maximum mobility. Back to top
The delay between thought and action is the basis for awareness.
- MOSHE FELDENKRAIS
Vitality & Anti-aging
Scientists used to believe that there was nothing we could do to fight the aging process. Aches, pains and decline were considered inevitable. Research shows that we can overcome many of the ills of aging because it's possible to learn and improve at any age. Our brains lose the capacity to learn if they are deprived of activity and stimulation. Now we know there's a lot we can do to stay active and vital.
Recent studies of rats shows that by waking up their brains to resume creating new connections, signs of aging such as physical weakness, loss of coordination and reduced cognitive ability, were reversed.
When you increase your body awareness and learn new ways to move, your brain starts to make new connections, and you begin to see changes on physical as well as cognitive levels. Our sessions are called "lessons" because they are a process of exploration and discovery, rather than prescribed, repetitive exercises. Through our lessons together, you will rediscover your strength and balance, and continue to improve with renewed vitality.
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Are you an athlete, musician or actor who realizes that the way you move has a direct impact on the level of your performance? Would you like to improve not just your strength or stamina, but also the quality of your movements?
It takes more than strength, speed or muscle size to perform at your highest level. It is the quality of movement that sets apart elite athletes, dancers, and musicians and allows them to perform while avoiding injury and minimizing the stress they experience during long hours of practice and competition.
Actions that "look easy" are actions that involve minimal effort and maximum coordination. When a skill is performed well, an Olympic athlete or world-class ballerina moves with efficiency and expends no unneeded effort. The resulting movement is powerful, beautiful and precise. Learning to move efficiently with a high degree of control allows you to develop skills essential to making the progress you desire. I can help you increase your awareness of how you are moving, and retrain yourself to replace patterns that could be holding you back or causing problems for you. Back to top