Feldenkrais® practitioners like myself are accustomed to having clients coming for individual lessons saying something like: “I’ve been to a physio (or other physical treatment provider) who says my back/knee/shoulder/neck/ problem is because I have (this or that) weak muscle or set of muscles. So they told me to do these exercises to strengthen them so the problem can be fixed. I’ve done exactly what they said but it’s not improved, and actually I strained something else!”
Now the treatment provider maybe quite correct in identifying that certain muscles are not performing and need improvement. But in nine cases out of ten – and in my own experience 100% of cases – both the root of the problem and its resolution is a matter of coordination (of muscles) NOT weak muscles. Another way of viewing the root cause in muscular terms is that it is both weak (under-used) and strong (over-used) muscles that are the issue. That is just another way of saying the real problem is one of poor coordination. Poor, or even less-than-optimal, coordination is what leads to slow burn injuries. They are rarely pure accidents but the result of the sufferer’s own habitual patterns of movement. At some point the body expresses its inability any longer to tolerate poor self use and the slow burn flares into a painful hip or knee or shoulder or neck etc. It is your habitual neuromuscular patterns that determine the relative efficiency or inefficiency of your coordinated movements.
So here it is: merely doing exercises or having muscular manipulation that is directed solely to strengthening any or all of the under-performing muscles will not address the underlying issue of coordination that is the root cause of your problem.
The genius of the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic movement (re-)education is that it provides an accessible and effective way of addressing the root problem of poor coordination. It enables those less-than-efficient habits to be re-formed through awareness in movement. Movement is used to bring about an awareness that alerts the nervous system to its existing patterns and to enable newer, better options to be embedded. This awareness-based learning utilises the inherent flexibility of the brain (neuroplasticity). When you learn to improve your coordination then your overworked muscles stop overworking and the “weak” underused muscles now miraculously (!) become stronger without any need for a special regime of muscle strengthening exercises. It is not magic. A 100-metre sprinter may need to do muscle building but the skill required for improving performance comes from repetitions of constantly improving the coordination in running – and not from muscle building in the gym. Without improving your coordination, muscle strengthening is basically a waste of time.
I invite you to come and find out how you can learn to improve your co-ordination and performance in any activity. I offer a free, no obligation, 30-minute in-person consultation. I will explain how you can learn to improve your health and well-being using the Feldenkrais Method® and suggest ways in which individual lessons can be tailored to your particular needs.
- Alan Cameron, August 2017
Book your movement re-education session with Alan now: 027 697 3854 / 04 476 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org