Case Study using Feldenkrais and Diet to Treat Multiple Sclerosis

A compelling new short film has just been released detailing the results of a mom with multiple sclerosis and her successful journey to maintain independence using the Feldenkrais Method. Please share this film with those you know who suffer from this disabling disease:

click here to watch!

Neurochemistry of Pain Relief Using Feldenkrais

Using the widely accepted Wall and Melzack “Gate Control Theory” of pain, Feldenkrais may work to achieve pain relief by activating pain inhibitory cells in the spinal cord.

The Gate Control theory proposes that inhibitory nerve cells in the spinal cord control whether a pain impulse coming from the periphery, such as the foot, is relayed to the brain or not.

A Swiss research team has discovered which inhibitory neurons in the spinal cord are responsible for this control function. As the study published in Neuron shows, the control cells for the gate are located in the spinal cord and use the amino acid glycine as an inhibitory messenger.

Based on everyday experience we know that gently rubbing or holding an injured extremity can alleviate pain in this area. According to Gate Control theory, non-painful contact (touch) with the skin activates the inhibitory cells. The researchers verified this hypothesis and confirmed that the inhibitory, glycine-releasing neurons are innervated by such touch-sensitive skin nerves (mechanoreceptors.)

The pharmacologists were also able to demonstrate that neurons (nociceptors) where the relay of the pain signals takes place are primarily inhibited by glycine signals. These findings identify for the first time the neurons and connections that underlie the Gate Control Theory of pain.

Pain relief is often achieved by a single simple, yet precise Feldenkrais lesson. This can now partially be explained by mechanoreceptors activated by the simple touch of a Feldenkrais practitioner. Pain relief is also achieved by the overall improvement in the body’s organization for movement, mediated in the brain by the process of neuroplasticity. 

 

Therapy works just as well as fusion for disc-related back pain

Surgery for back pain does not work any better than therapy or no treatment at all. A study conducted at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital ("Operative and Nonoperative Treatment Approaches for Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Have Similar Long-Term Clinical Outcomes Among Patients With Positive Discography" - September 15, 2013) found that patients with back pain and disc disease did not demonstrate a significant difference in the outcome measures of pain, health status, satisfaction, or disability based on whether the patient elected for fusion or no surgery at all. Therapy is now a first-line option for treating chronic back pain, and the Feldenkrais Method can be recommended with confidence that it is backed by science. 

Using mental rest to improve learning

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have shown that the right kind of mental rest, which strengthens and consolidates memories from recent learning tasks, helps boost future learning. “We’ve shown for the first time that how the brain processes information during rest can improve future learning,” says Preston. “We think replaying memories during rest makes those earlier memories stronger, not just impacting the original content, but impacting the memories to come”. From Mental rest and reflection boost learning.

This hypothesis could explain why we take frequent rests during a Feldenkrais lesson. And during those rests, we reflect on the changes that have occurred. The learning is enhanced by repeating this process for an entire lesson, translating into more a fluid, organized series of movements. This better organized movement translates into improved ability and reduced pain.

What does this mean for you? Slow down, breathe, and reflect frequently. Your whole life may get a lot easier!

Self-Awareness in Multple Sclerosis has Implications for Rehabilitation

A new study of self-awareness by Kessler Foundation researchers shows that persons with multiple sclerosis (MS) may be able to improve their self-awareness through task-oriented cognitive rehabilitation: see Multiple Sclerosis and Self Awareness. Improved self awareness leads to improved quality of life and fewer falls and accidents.

The Feldenkrais Method is an excellent modality designed to improve task-oriented cognitive function. Feldenkrais provides lessons to improve a task's efficiency and ease through the use of self-awareness. The result is improved mobility, strength and balance.

Awareness through Movement

Awareness through Movement

Feldenkrais, neuroplasticity and chronic pain relief

Neuroplasticity is a modern term that refers to our brain's ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. Scientists used to believe that changes in the brain could only take place during infancy and childhood. By adulthood, it was believed that the brain's nerves and structure was permanent. Modern research demonstrates otherwise.  The brain continues to create new neural pathways and alter existing ones in order to adapt to new experiences, learn new information and create new memories as long as we are alive. This is the basis of the Feldenkrais Method's ability to heal chronic pain: learning to adapt in new ways to the same old stimuli and stressors, to create new responses to the same movement questions, and have these new responses become permanent. These new responses create more effective environments for healing those nagging chronic pains we all seem to have. And that is really what we're after: permanent chronic pain relief!!

Feldenkrais and changing neural networks

The Feldenkrais Method is based on our current understanding of the processes involved in learning movement skills. It is a systematic approach to improving human movement and general functioning. Feldenkrais depends on our brain's ability to change rapidly, a process called neuroplasticity. It's basic premise is man's ability to learn and access a myriad of software programs for each and every action a human performs.

It would make sense that a system existed to upgrade brain hardware to keep up with these new software options. And there is. Scientists at Duke have found a new type of neuron in the adult brain that is capable of telling stem cells to make more new neurons. Though the experiments are in their early stages, the findings open the amazing possibility that the brain may repair and upgrade itself from within (retrieved 6/4/14 from Neuron Tells Stem Cells to Grow New Neurons.)

This research explains the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of the Feldenkrais Method. It will be exciting to see what research comes next to validate this form of physical improvement.

 

Knee surgery for torn cartilage not effective for knee pain relief

Two separate studies published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine have shown that knee surgery works no better than sham surgery for a torn meniscus. And while physical therapy was offered as an alternative to surgery, I believe the Feldenkrais Method has a greater potential to relieve knee pain and restore knee function than traditional knee rehabilitation methods. Feldenkrais works faster, and is a painless way to achieve knee pain relief. Call the Feldenkrais Center for your free phone consultation: 760-436-2403.

References:

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013259

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1305189

 

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 http://www.tunedbody.com/scientists-finally-show-thoughts-can-cause-specific-molecular-changes-genes/# on December 30, 2013