Successful brain aging

A special issue of Science looks at the mechanisms and contexts of successful brain aging. The development of the brain through one’s entire life is affected by genetic, physical, and psychological factors. One thing we know for certain, our mental lives benefit when we lead lives that are not only physically healthy, but also intellectually challenging and socially engaged.

As we age, our brains constantly reorganize in response to new experiences, a process called neuroplasticity. Reading, writing, games and puzzles are incredibly fun and helpful. Even after horrible physical or psychosocial trauma, such as a stroke or a loved one's sudden death, there is a phenomenal level of flexibility in the brain that enables an individual to compensate and cope, and return to brain health. 

How can we interpret this brain aging study? Stay healthy, be mindful, have good friends, and have novel experiences that create strength and joy. Feldenkrais Awareness through Movement is a perfect example of a novel experience leading to better overall organization and brain health. See if you can find the joy in it!

Scientific Evidence: You really are what you think!

Cogito ergo sum: I think therefore I am. René Descartes

And research now shows that what you think actually creates who you are by determining the expression of your genes. And not just whether you think positively or negatively, but what you mindfully attend to translates into the actual form and function of our bodies.

A recent study investigated the effects of 8 hours of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced practitioners, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities. Results showed a range of genetic and molecular differences between groups, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from stressful situations. This happened in just one day of practice.

Mindfulness-based trainings have shown beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders in prior clinical studies, and are endorsed by the American Heart Association as a preventative intervention. These results provide a possible biological mechanism for the therapeutic effects of mindfulness practices, including a possible biological mechanism for the effects of regular Feldenkrais practice.

In press: Kaliman, P., Álvarez-López, M. J., Cosín-Tomás, M., Rosenkranz, M. A., Lutz, A., & Davidson, R. J. (2014). Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 40, 96–107.

Retrieved from on December 30, 2013

Back pain and sciatica relief for people over 40: Five Feldenkrais tips everyone should know

If you have lower back pain with or without sciatica you’re not alone. Millions suffer from low back pain and leg pain every day. Given the vast array of treatment choices, how does one decide on a course of back pain relief? The following 5 tips based on the Feldenkrais Method for relieving back pain and sciatica may help:

  • Back pain is not prevented by strengthening of the muscles of the back
  • The stability of the back rather than the strength of the back prevents back pain
  • Therapy for stability is quite different from strength training
  • The stability of the back depends on a properly functioning spinal core
  • A properly functioning spinal core has vertebrae that relate functionally to each other

Functional relationships differ immensely from structural relationships. Structural relationships can be seen on an x-ray and MRI, and are often used to justify back pain diagnoses and treatment plans. Functional relationships on the other hand can be seen with the naked eye. Can you turn as easily to your left as you turn to the right? Does one direction create back pain, while the other direction feels more comfortable? Can you easily bend forward to put on your shoes, get up from a chair, and get into and out of the car without pain? Can you sleep restfully?

Sciatica and back pain relief result from improving functional relationships within the spine, and optimizing the function of the spine as it relates to the rest of the body. How is this accomplished? Each and every Feldenkrais lesson, of which there are thousands, addresses the functional relationships of the spinal core while teaching you to reach, roll over, and sit without pain. Feldenkrais Method lessons create environments within which the body can begin to heal itself by bringing the function back. Function which may have been lost for years by overuse, injury or misuse. Function which will return in a matter of weeks. Let Feldenkrais help you live more comfortably, out of pain.

Chronic headache relief overnight using Feldenkrais

A 23-year old male student with a history of headaches had been suffering from a horrible headache for almost three weeks.  He had not injured himself at play or at work, and the only thing that definitely made it worse was sitting for too long. He had no other symptoms except a stiff lower back. I treated this young man with a single Feldenkrais lesson. On awakening the next morning, his headache was gone, and had still not returned after 2 weeks. This is just one of many stories that could be about you! Call me for a free phone consultation: 760-436-2403. And read more about Feldenkrais and headaches by clicking here.

Could you have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome?

Have you injured a toe or a finger, just to have your whole extremity flare up in pain? Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition affecting one of the limbs (arms, legs, hands, or feet), almost always after an injury or trauma to that limb.  CRPS is believed to be caused by damage to the nervous system, and is defined by prolonged or excessive pain, and changes in skin color, temperature, and/or swelling in the affected area.

Currently there is no single medical test to confirm CRPS. Its diagnosis is based on your medical history, signs and symptoms. No one treatment for CRPS has gained popularity, although physical rehabilitation is recommended.

The Feldenkrais Method is a modern approach to CRPS pain relief without drugs, surgery, or injection. I have treated dozens of people with this problem and had excellent results. Sick of your chronic regional pain? Consider the Feldenkrais Method to treat your CRPS comfortably and easily. 

Feldenkrais gives pain relief after car accident

Some people suffer serious long-term effects from motor vehicle accidents: the pain from the accident never seems to go away. I recently saw a middle-aged woman involved in a terrible car accident 7 years ago. The entire left side of her body never fully recovered. She had neck pain, upper back and lower back pain on the left side of her body, with radiating pain into her left arm and left leg. And while she was able to function quite normally, and drive again, she was plagued by her pain day and night.

Using the Feldenkrais Method exclusively for treatment, this woman's pain resolved in its entirety by her fourth visit, over a two week time frame. It took 2 weeks to resolve a problem that she had suffered with for years. 

Have you been involved in an injury or accident and continue to suffer the consequences? This story could be about you! Call me today for a free phone consultation and see what the Feldenkrais Method can do for your chronic pain: 760-436-2403.

Do you have spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is an arthritic condition affecting the inside of the spinal column

Narrowing of the spinal canal due to arthritic changes places pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves and can create several pain syndromes. Most commonly, lumbar spinal stenosis can cause:

  • Standing discomfort (94%)
  • Numbness in legs (63%)
  • Weakness in legs (43%)
  • Bilateral symptoms (68%)
  • Discomfort above and below knee (78%)

Many treatments exist for spinal stenosis, including epidural injections

However recent studies suggest that epidurals may make spinal stenosis worse...see more. It appears that physical therapy, including the Feldenkrais Method, that is able to correct posture has the most therapeutic value. Postural correction takes some of the pressure off the spinal nerves creating a relief of disabling symptoms. Do you have spinal stenosis? Contact me and see what I can offer you.


Foot Pain Relief

Do you have foot pain? Many people suffer from daily, disabling pain in their feet, especially runners and others who spend a lot of time on their feet. A common type of foot pain is called Plantar Fasciitis. If you have aching heel pain which is worse with your first few steps in the morning, chances are this may be your diagnosis. A Feldenkrais approach would consider changing the way gravity went through the feet with each step. This is easily done by organizing the spine, pelvis and hips to load the feet more effectively, thus taking pressure off the heel. With some simple, painless Feldenkrais exercises, FOOT PAIN RELIEF can be quickly and easily within reach.

Older Golfers Rule

I saw an 83-year old golfer recently with sciatica. After walking around the golf course for several days with a toothache in her behind, back pain, and radiating pain in her leg, she finally called me for help. After 45 minutes on my Feldenkrais table, this very active 83-year old sat up, said she didn't hurt anymore, and that we were done. 

Great! On follow up over the next several days, she continued to play golf and be back pain and sciatica pain free! Go get 'em girl!!!

Want this story to be about you? Call me today for a free phone consultation on how the Feldenkrais Method can help relieve your back or sciatica pain: 760-436-2403.