We also offer Feldenkrais as a class, called Awareness Through Movement (ATM). ATM classes are in a group setting with a therapist who verbally directs students through movement sequences. Classes can involve a lesson focused on and organized around a particular function in the body. These lessons engage the student in precise movements that involve thinking, sensing, moving and imaging. Many lessons are ordinary functional activities, such as sitting, while others are more abstract explorations of joint, muscle and postural relationships. HEALTHWELL holds ATM group classes at the San Francisco office on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. These classes are mainly introductory in nature and all are welcome.

Feldenkrais 101 - How the Brain and Body are Connected.

Just as the brain forgets information if we don’t use it, the body also forgets movements that we don’t use regularly. Movement of the body and movement within the brain share a common electrical dependency and are intrinsically interrelated.

Most of us don’t pay attention to how we move, until we experience pain or need to adapt to an injury or trauma. Then, there is an incentive to change movement to seek relief or to “protect” an injury. Our nervous system is designed to then make the best possible adaptation to our movements to minimize discomfort. But when the pain subsides, we don’t necessarily change our movement patterns back to what they were prior to pain or injury.

Each time our bodies change movement patterns, we move further and further away from our natural movement pattern. Our bodies are so good at adapting to pain or injury and “forgetting” how we used to move, that it often eventually becomes a problem.

How does Feldenkrais work?

The brain and spinal cord make up the Central Nervous System (CNS). The CNS receives information from sensory nerves and sends out information on motor nerves. In other words, sensory nerves tell your central nervous system what is happening, then the central nervous system uses the motor nerves to tell your body what to do.

This sensory-motor feedback loop continually responds to daily stresses and traumas with specific muscular reflexes. When reflexes recur repeatedly, they create habitual muscle contractions that become deeply ingrained and unconscious. Eventually, the movement is no longer clear in our awareness. This can explain why one hip or knee wears out; it’s not inherently bad equipment, it could simply be the unconscious habitual patterns distributing forces unevenly and resulting in overuse of a body part.

When our awareness becomes sufficiently distracted from within or from external stressors, such as repeated injuries or insults, and our system can no longer adapt, we may experience pain and discomfort, difficulty walking, or lack of balance. If not addressed, a degenerative cascade can begin which at some point seems irreversible, and then we consider may surgery to ease our pain.

Is surgery really the only choice? Many people exercise to try to reverse this process, thinking if they do enough exercise, it should stop the pain. Therein, lies the problem.

Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Practice a bad movement and it will become a bad habit. Or, practice a good movement and it will become a good habit.

The Feldenkrais Method is a movement tool that HEALTHWELL’s physical therapists use to alter the mind-body connection. It helps the brain wake up and see the world differently, and allows movement in a more normal and comfortable way. Feldenkrais helps us “unlearn” our ingrained and unconscious movements, and regain optimal health through neurologically-based movements. In other words, Feldenkrais treats both the body and the brain. As we age, this becomes increasingly important.

Because our nervous system responds through our whole body, an injury at a specfic site requires a recovery approach that includes the whole body. This is HEALTHWELL’s specialty – our commitment to integrated care. Treating a weak muscle or an injury means treating the neurology and reflexes of the entire system.

This approach requires a broad understanding of the entire system and the mind-body connection. That is why Feldenkrais practitioners study for 4 years to develop this understanding. HEALTHWELL is committed to improving your movement by liberating your nervous system and restoring its functional integrity, and Feldenkrais is one of the best tools to accomplish this goal.

Healthwell: San Francisco Physical Therapy

San Francisco Feldenkrais Classes
1200 Gough Street, SF 415.921.1211