More About How I work with Multiple Sclerosis

Let’s get more specific about what I do for people with Multiple Sclerosis

In my last blog, I wrote about how the Feldenkrais Method® can benefit people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This blog will be the second of 3 blogs about MS and will get into more details for folks who would like more information.

Most people don’t ever think about what they do or how they move, that is until movement becomes a little harder. When we slow down and pay attention to how we move and what we do, we are able to fine tune our movements and actions. In other words as Moshe Feldenkrais said, “If you don’t know what you do, you can’t do what you want.” This is exactly what we learn when we practice the Feldenkrais Method®.

If you have MS, or know somebody who does, (there are approximately 200,000 people in the US and 2.5 million worldwide with MS) then you know about some of the debilitating symptoms. Because the symptoms are so varied, when working with MS, one must have a clear understanding of the interweaving nature of the brain and body. One cannot “correct” one part without affecting the others. We cannot change walking if we don’t work on breathing or knowing where we are in space. The Feldenkrais Method® is based on connections of parts and the whole and how they work together and separately.

I will use the example of walking and in this blog, I will cover 4 symptoms of MS and how I work with them. I will cover 4 more in my next blog. Some of the words I use may not be familiar to you, but if you have MS, or know MS, you know what these words are.

Walking is the primary reason that people with MS come to my practice. What do you need to be able to walk? We will start with an awareness of where your body parts are in space. In medical language, this is called kinesthetics/proprioception. I take you through a series of movement sequences, either verbally or by touching you. These very gentle, easy movements allow you to relax. When you become relaxed you can explore the movement. You can become aware of movement patterns that are holding you back. You can learn how to abandon habitual movement patters that are not working. No doubt, they used to work, but not now. Through the subtle movement lessons, one can develop awareness, leading to flexibility and coordination.

Another symptom that makes walking difficult is spasticity. Spasticity is a state where certain muscles are contracted at all, or inappropriate times. The Feldenkrais Method® encourages students to move with little effort, enabling them to stop or reverse any movement before the muscles can become excited or overexcited. Movements are slow, gentle, and safe. You will be better able to modulate the how your muscles begin action. You now will be allowed to make minor adjustments based on your own perception.

Problems with coordination are quite common among people with Multiple Sclerosis, because of decreased communication within the brain and spinal cord. Coordination is complicated, at best. Actions utilize certain muscle sequences. An example, you bend you knee, and lift your foot before your hip moves your leg forward for walking. However, before you even move your legs, you see something you want to walk to or for, either in reality or in your imagination. You also have to maintain an upright posture and you must be breathing if you want to move efficiently. The movement sequences in either modality of the Feldenkrais Method® teaches control of movement in space. This includes the ability to control direction, quality, and speed.

So often people with MS have difficulty maintaining balance. Through the Feldenkrais Method®, students with MS are given the opportunity to explore “dynamic posture,” where the skeleton carries the weight and the muscles are freed up to move more efficiently. The relationship between the skeleton and muscles is explored. Movement through the center of the body is emphasized, rather than holding at the “core.”

My next blog will explore heat sensitivity, fatigue, stress, and flexibility.
Contact me if you would like to talk about yourself or a loved one with MS More on Feldenkrais and MS

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