Healthy Families

Achieving a pain-free and healthy body

Achieving a pain-free and healthy body

The first years of our lives are spent exploring how our different body parts relate to each other and the environment. We learn to feel where we are in space, where our feet and arms are and the distance between them. Without this learning we would not know how to move our extremities in order to roll over, sit up, crawl and walk.

This body sense or kinesthetic awareness is known as proprioception. It's the brain's ability to sense the relative positions and movements of different body parts. Because of proprioception, you know exactly where your hand is in space even with eyes closed. Coordinated movement depends on it and improving proprioception is a way to improve performance and reduce pain.

How proprioception works is via the brain mapping the body, just like lines on a map that represent roads. Each part of the body has a separate part of the brain dedicated to moving and sensing that body part. So, we have hands and then virtual hands in the brain.
Body parts communicate with the virtual parts of the brain through mechanoreceptors, which are microscopic and located throughout the body. When stimulated they send a signal through the nervous system to the part of the brain devoted to sensing that part of the body. As a result the brain creates many maps of the body and decides what is happening and how to move.

The brain uses the map to make decisions about how to move, so it's important to have a good, detailed body map in order to improve movement.

The Feldenkrais Method®`, www.feldenkrais.com is specifically designed to cause beneficial changes in the maps and improve proprioception. The Feldenkrais Method is taught in two modes.

Awareness Through Movement® is a group class in which students are verbally guided, learning to move in a more effective way so that you can do all kinds of ordinary activities better, ie., reaching. The lessons do not tell you how to breathe or walk, how to sit or stand. They teach you how to become your own measure for efficient movement. You learn how you move, where there is tension in your body, where you exert unnecessary effort. With this knowledge, you will develop new and effortless movements.

The other mode is known as Functional Integration®. The individual lies on a low padded table fully clothed, while the certified practitioner slowly moves the person's body in a pattern tailored to the individual.

Contributed:
Joanie Collin, GCFP
607-215-2857