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. 

 

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!

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.

 

Feldenkrais, Neuroplasticity and New Discoveries in Chronic Pain

More than 100 million Americans experience chronic pain. And although that’s more than the number of Americans who suffer from heart disease, cancer, or diabetes combined, chronic pain often goes untreated. Chronic pain is distinguished from acute pain in that it lasts for much longer than normally expected, usually over three to six months. 
Until now, the common misconception about pain is that it’s connected to tissue injury. Most people think that unless something’s broken, or torn, or herniated, that you’re not going to have persistent pain. In other words, some sort of damage that you can see or image should exist. We now know that this is not the case. Chronic pain is caused by changes in the brain and the spinal cord and the nerves that go through tissues. Because you can’t tell by looking at someone how much pain they’re in, and people assume that you can, patients with chronic pain face a lot of challenges (from New Discoveries in Chronic Pain Research, retrieved 11/1/13). 
Feldenkrais uses our nervous system's capacity for self-organizing and self-regulating to improve the quality of our actions, a process called neuroplasticity. Improving movement quality allows the body to function more efficiently. This efficiency creates environments for chronic pain to heal, and opportunities for athletes and others to excel. 
Having chronic pain? Don’t let it ruin your quality of life! Allow me to show you how the Feldenkrais Method can work for you. Please call 760-436-2403 for your free phone consultation.

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

Welcome to International Feldenkrais® Week — May 3 to May 12, 2013

Would you like to feel, move, and look better?

The Feldenkrais Method® might be the answer for you! The Feldenkrais Method is a mental and physical improvement system based on discovering natural, easy, efficient and pleasurable ways of moving your mind and body. It is an advanced educational approach to well-being using your brain’s amazing capacity to reorganize itself. It is based on the premise that all human beings have the potential to learn to do everything they do in easier, less effortful and more satisfying ways than is their habit.

The particular way a person is “organized” to sit, stand, walk, run or speak in public, reflects that person’s inner state, or their self-image. Human beings have a tendency to acquire subtle and sometimes damaging physical and mental habits of functioning which can become deeply ingrained. Some habits are useful – many are not. The Feldenkrais Method can facilitate change by creating the awareness you need to alter those habits which don’t serve you well. This week is a wonderful opportunity to learn what Feldenkrais® is all about--the FGNA.

I look forward to seeing you!