Archive for March, 2009

Atrophy or Hypertonic?

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Often a client comes in and tells me how someone told them they have atrophied muscles and that they have to work harder to strengthen this or that muscle. I’m curious about this assessment or diagnosis because what I feel under my hands is the total opposite. So I started to ask a different question. I noticed that the muscles in question where hard and resistant versus flaccid which would be a true sign of atrophy, and began to test the muscle firing. Again and again I recognize that the muscle is overworking and as a result of never stopping its work or contraction, it fatigues and miss fires due to exhaustion. My clients begin to sense and feel how they are gripping and how difficult it is to let go of the contraction, and that’s the place we begin. How to learn to let our magnificent brain and neuromuscular systems coordinate without getting in the way.

I think of the baby who certainly has very little muscular tonus and yet even within their first four to eight months they are able to begin the process of rolling, pushing, lifting their heads, extending their spine while resting on their stomach with arms and legs in the air. So it certainly isn’t how much muscle they have but rather their developing organization of how all is working together to achieve the desired result. For a baby it’s feeding or reaching for what is within their grasp to explore. And as a baby, they don’t have the years of habits imposed on them as to the right or wrong way of doing something. They simply figure it out by sensing and feeling, exploring with trial and error until they find the pathway. They achieve it on their own when their nervous system is ready without being imposed on. So when working with someone I am aware to notice what they do. There is a good reason for why they do what they do. I’m interested not to remove that as a possibility but in allowing them to find more options to increase their repetoire in functioning more optimally instead of muscling and pushing through it. That only fatigues the already too exhausted musculoskeletal system from performing what we want to do when we want to do it.

As I finish a session with my clients I notice how much taller they appear, how more settled and relaxed they seem and how fluid their gait and actions are whether walking, reaching, bending or really any daily function. They realize that they are learning something about how to reorganize themselves by sensing and feeling themselves instead of muscling through and forcing. They leave happier, more in balance with a renewed sense of ease and comfort.

Feldenkrais (R) and Fitness, How to Further Improve Your Skills

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Here is a wonderful approach that can be applied to any and all disciplines to enhance the ease and effortlessness in performance whether it be sports, music, theatre… These are the comments of an athlete who partakes of Awareness Through Movement (R) classes from Stacy Barrows, a Feldenkrais practitioner and PT.

“…The students in this ATM class ranged from PT’s, Pilates instructors and personal trainers. They were patiently ready to follow a discovery process that led them to easier movement and softer postures. All with more comfort and less pain by report.” This blog appeared the next day from one of the participants:
“The workshop consisted largely of the instructor leading the ten participants through a series of nearly-imperceptible movements, usually done lying on the floor in a darkened room. I’d done a few hours of Feldenkrais work in graduate school and so knew a little about its wonders, but I sensed the skepticism among some of the other students: What could THIS be doing? It didn’t last long, because almost instantly, most of us felt different. Taller, longer, more aligned, more easy in our movements. As a guy with some theatre background, I noticed that the voices in the room sounded richer, more resonant. And, as cheesy as it sounds, people looked happier. I was, once again, blown away, and totally sold on its benefits.”
To learn more read here.

Careful Now! Don’t Be So Quick To Grab For The Drugs!

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Very interesting and yet perturbing the drug pushing pushed on young Harvard medical interns. It’s your body, mind and well being at stake so be willing to take the time, work as a team and ask many questions before jumping to pop a pill. There are many dangerous side effects that too often create more havoc then the original symptom. Wouldn’t it be better to slowly create an improved healing dynamic, noninvasive and reverse the symptoms that are signs you need to attend to yourself.

To learn more of this dilemma of how pharmaceutical companies have entered into the teaching institutions of our highest ranking medical school, read here.

A Neurological Report on The Use of Awareness Through Movement (R) and Multiple Sclerosis to Improve Balance and Confidence

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Even when beset with the condition of MS there is so much you can do to facilitate more ease and comfort, balance and confidence in your ability to function.

This is a randomized controlled study by Dr. James Stephens and his colleagues to examine the effectiveness of a structured, group motor learning process called The Feldenkrais Method (R) to improve balance, confidence and efficacy.

To learn more about how this method of learning can enhance any body function visit the Neurology Report, Vol 25 . No 2 . 2001 here.

Lengthening Your Hamstrings, To Stretch or Not To Stretch

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Here is a wonderful empirically based research report on how to more effectively elongate your hamstring muscle group without creating more trauma to the already overly contracted muscles and how to maintain this improvement. This clinical study employees the use of The Feldenkrais Method (R) of Awareness Through Movement (R) lessons to enable the muscles to return to a balance and maintain this, versus the habitual pattern of stretching, pulling and tugging that results in the stretch reflex that returns to the overly contracted muscle. To learn more you can go to for The Bottom Line, a clinical summary of this article by noted DPTs, James Stephens, Joshua Davidson, Joseph DeRosa, Michael Kriz and Nicole Saltzman.

This full study can be found in the Physical Therapy Journal . Volume 86 . Number 12 . December 2006.