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Brain/Body Health Linked to Movement

August 16, 2014

If you’re convinced you can keep your brain healthy simply by playing Sudoku or the Lumosity games, you’re missing an important ingredient—movement. Research now shows physical exercise can ease depression, slow age-related memory loss and prevent Parkinson-like symptoms. Exercise is also one of the most important treatments for osteoarthritis with benefits far outweighing those gained from medications. So let’s get moving. “But,” you say, “I don’t exercise because moving hurts!” Or “I’m so out of shape I don’t know where to begin.” Either way, here are some strategies to move you towards effortless movement.

First, find your baseline. A baseline is the amount of activity you can do easily without pain or at least without increasing your pain level. Take walking as an example. How long can you walk before you feel discomfort? When find the amount you can do without repercussions, that will be your baseline or starting point. You will begin to build from there by increasing your time by a minute or two every few days. It doesn’t sound like much and it isn’t. That’s the point! Your brain won’t notice these slight increases if you exercise consistently (at least 3 or 4 times a week). You can use this same principle whether it’s swimming lengths in the pool, lifting weights, doing cardio workouts, dancing, etc. (See my personal experiment below).

“The discomfort point will slowly lift along with your training level (this is because you are training your brain, reducing the perceived threat, accessing the … body in a nonthreatening way). The ‘protect by pain’ line will slowly lift—the sensitivity of the system reduces. The tissue tolerance line will also lift—this is one of the beautiful properties of highly adaptable beings—the tissues get stronger, fitter, better controlled.” Lorimer Mosely, Explain Pain.

My Personal Experiment

The expression, "Put your money where your mouth is!" comes to mind here. In other words  I want to experience (in some form) whatever I suggest to my readers and students. On this note, I decided to work on a set lessons Moshe Feldenkrais developed called the Heels on Pelvis Series. Although I've done these lessons in the past I never came anywhere near mastering the movements involved. So in my most recent personal project I decided they would give me a challenge worth pursuing. It was a humbling experience because when I started I realized I wasn't as able to do the lessons as well as I could the last time time I did them (that was a few years ago). My plan this time was to do what I could easily in 20 minutes a day. When I came upon something that wasn't working I would find alternative lessons to broaden my body awareness and ease of movement. The 3 photos below show my progress over the past 4 weeks.

Week #1: I was able to go into the bridge position comfortably but bringing my feet under my pelvis although not impossible was difficult.

Week #2: I was able to bring my feet under my pelvis but could only stay on my toes for a very short time. I couldn't sit my pelvis on my heels and taking my head back and my knees towards the floor was impossible.

Weeks #3-4: Taking my knees foward and having my head on the floor and then eventually lifted became much easier. I'm still working on coming right up to sitting from this position. I've done it a couple of times but I have to do it without thinking otherwise I start to tighten up and effort. This is a work in progress but definitely I've come a long way.

Thousands of people have benefited from Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons; however, we cannot anticipate the needs and/or limitations of individuals. The material containedhere is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. Consult your doctor or physiotherapist if you have any concerns. Responsibility for the lessons is strictly that of the user.

 



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Feldenkrais®, Feldenkrais Method®, Awareness Through Movement®, and Functional Integration® are registered service marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America. Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner ™ and Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher ™ are certification marks of the Feldenkrais Guild®.