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!

How exactly does exercise work to make us healthier

Exercise makes us more fit and reduces our risk for illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. But just how, from start to finish, exercise translates into a healthier life remains perplexing.

New research informs us the answer probably lays within our DNA. A study published December 2014 in Epigenetics finds that exercise changes the shape and functioning of our genes. The human genome is astonishingly complex and dynamic, with genes constantly turning on or off, depending on what biochemical signals they receive from the body. When genes are turned on, proteins are released that prompt physiological responses elsewhere in the body.

Scientists now know that certain genes become active or quieter as a result of exercise. Gene expression was noticeably increased or changed in thousands of the exercised muscle-cell genes that the researchers studied. Many of the changes related to exercise were on the portions of the genome known as enhancers.  These enhancers augment the genes’ expression of proteins.  This relates to hundreds of health-related proteins being expressed throughout the body. These proteins keep blood pressure and insulin low, and strength and endurance high.

We now better understand one more step in the complex process that makes exercise so good for us. “Through endurance training — a lifestyle change that is easily available for most people and doesn’t cost much money,” lead researcher Dr. Lindholm said, “we can induce changes that affect how we use our genes and, through that, get healthier and more functional muscles that ultimately improve our quality of life.”

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. 

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!

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!

Exercise is a key to keeping dementia away

Research reveals that exercise is one of the best ways to protect against dementia in later life and the earlier you start, the greater the effect (from Exercise and Dementia).

However, it is only those ENJOYABLE hobbies, activities, concerts, and book clubs that seem to make a difference in brain health. “The minute a provider prescribes an activity people hate doing…most likely the effect in terms of being beneficial for brain health is lost.”

“It produces so much stress in the body not wanting to do the prescribed repulsive activity that the stress becomes more harmful than the benefit of keeping the brain active.”

Would you like to exercise more for both brain and general health, but have chronic pain issues holding you back? Contact the Feldenkrais Center at 760-436-2403 and let me help you return to those activities that bring you joy.

Lori L. Malkoff, MD 

Lori L. Malkoff, MD 

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