Medical experts will often prescribe gentle exercise, physical therapy or mind body practices like yoga or Pilates, before considering interventional treatments or surgical options. A recent press release in the San Francisco Gate announced the publication of a new book entitled Stop Sciatica Now, which teaches individuals struggling with sciatica symptoms how to use the Feldenkrais method to alleviate their pain. So what exactly is this and how does it work?
The Feldenkrais Method was named for its founder who was a physicist, mechanical engineer and judo pro who developed the technique to cure himself after sustaining a debilitating knee injury. He based his ideas on biomechanics, physics and human development. The concept is that people develop certain habits in how they move.
When a person sustains an injury such as a herniated disc with painful sciatica symptoms, he will start adopting new patterns to compensate for the pain. It is believed that over time these new patterns actually hinder recovery so that he must develop a new perspective on functional awareness and develop new ways to move that enhance coordination and flexibility and ultimately reduce pain. The student must develop new neuromuscular patterns to retrain his mind and body–searching for new ways to move naturally.
Consistent with the idea that this is an education, individuals practicing the technique aren’t referred to as patients but rather as students.
If you suffer with sciatica from a herniated disc and your doctor has suggested exploring ways to get active through gentle movement, the Feldenkrais Method may be something you want to learn more about. The Mayo Clinic indicates the Feldenkrais Method is utilized for neck and back pain as well as neuromuscular issues.
In a session, the instructor guides the student at first with verbal direction and then with a hands-on approach, through a series of gentle movements. The student may be lying on the floor, seated or standing as they learn how to develop an awareness of new movement patterns.
Carol Siddiqi, CYT, GCFP, has been teaching Yoga, Feldenkrais Method®:
Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration® for more than 30 years