The lower part of our spine is strong, but as it bears all the weight, it is also mechanically vulnerable. Having all of our weight carried high gives us a great deal of agility but causes mechanical stress on the lower back and spine. People have found many ingenious techniques to deal with the problem of back pain.
To relieve the lower back pain that he was cursed with, man has utilized all types of tools and methods, he invented massage, bone setting and acupuncture to name but a few. However , more often than not the actual functional and mechanical “cause” of the problem is not dealt with and mainly the results of these are investigated and “treated”.
Every technique I know that proposes to treat lower back pain in a serious way gives some attention to the root cause of the problem, however, not enough in my opinion. The problem with all these techniques that do not go far enough in looking at the “root cause” of the problem is that they do not give a permanent solution.
Re-establishing functional balance is what the Feldenkrais Method aims at. It aims at extending the repertoire of movements so that the person now has a choice and can go about living everyday life in “movement diversity” and not always repeat mechanically the same painful movements that end up being harmful to the spine and inflicting great pain.
Throughout childhood we tend to be more flexible, but as adults we restrict ourselves a lot and become fixed in our ways. We have made choices and use a very small palette of movements to go about life. As babies we had an “infinite” movement potential and virtually an limitless number of movements to chose from, and by experimenting we came to chose a certain way of moving over others and finally honed it down to a limited vocabulary.
The habits we develop in our movements and the repetitive nature of those movements that are very often not optimal is in large part responsible for most of our aches and pains. Low back pain and bone and joint pain may be a result of life threatening diseases, but once that has been discounted the actual cause of the pain more often than not is bad use of self.
Inefficient movement seems to be the norm, we can through awareness learn to make our movements more functional and more efficient. The Feldenkrais method deals with this by offering alternatives. This change is brought about by playfully exploring different movement possibilities and doing fun and challenging moves with ones body.
The group lessons that are taught by a Feldenkrais practitioner are called Awareness Through Movement lessons. These lessons or ATMs are practiced mainly on a soft carpet on the floor. If you do enough of these you will begin to expand your own body awareness and movement repertoire.
There are trained Feldenkrais practitioners all over the world and in every state in the U.S. If you do not have one you can find a practitioner near you, you can find recorded lessons online in MP3 format that you can download and do.