Feldenkrais for Sportspeople
We can all “spot the difference”. When two athletes are both performing the same task, it is obvious when one does the activity gracefully and effortlessly, and the other “just goes through the motions correctly”. There is a certain quality that we can recognize immediately. It is not about flexibility. Nor is it about strength or stamina.
Clarity of Intention
What lies at the heart of quality of movement is clarity of intention, and a level of self organization that allows for ease of effort. Naturally this also includes easy breathing. The movement looks graceful and effortless, poetically described as having fluidity. This is what the Feldenkrais Method® teaches to athletes, and sports participants. In fact, anyone who desires an improvement in how they move, or how they carry out a specific action, will benefit from this method of learning. Relearning in the brain, rather than training the muscles, is the basis of this work.
Many athletes injure themselves in their chosen sport. and many continue to repeat that particular injury, despite considerable work being directed towards strengthening the injured area and improving their flexibility. But if a part of the body is being overused, and other parts underused, the injury is likely to reoccur. For example, a person who injures their leg running will most likely adopt a limp. The body reorganizes itself around this limp, which is learnt quickly, and is a necessary mechanism for protection. The whole body then needs to unlearn this limp, not just the injured part.
When participating in events such as running marathons or endurance swimming, the challenge is to avoid fatigue. The Feldenkrais Method® provides a way in which movements are shared and distributed evenly throughout the whole body. This also allows for much variety of how an action can be achieved so that the body is not overstrained in any one area.
Effortless Action with the Feldenkrais Method®
The Feldenkrais Method®, when taught to an individual (Functional Integration®) will usually feel slow and gentle to enable the brain to seek a quality of movement that continues to feel effortless. The participant will be guided by the practitioner’s hands as different options are explored in order to find the most effective outcome. As the movements become more dynamic, the brain is able to choose new options of movement that streamline the amount of effort required. When taught in groups ( Awareness Through Movement®) the class is given a series of instructions which gradually build together many concepts involved in achieving a fluent, well organized quality or action.
What is most apparent from sportspeople participating in the Feldenkrais Method® is that they avoid becoming injured, and they participate with greater success , yet with less effort.