After a car accident, Longmont resident Cerina Freeheart didn’t know if she would ever be pain free again. The accident caused damage to her sciatic nerve and the pain she felt limited her mobility, taking away something that was extremely important to her — movement.
It didn’t take long for Freeheart to realize that because of the pain, she could no longer do the many physical activities she loved, such as dancing and hiking. Even walking had become difficult, with anything more than a 15-minute walk causing severe pain and making movement unbearable.
After seeking help in several areas of expertise with no luck, Freeheart remembered the Feldenkrais Method® Awareness Through Movement® classes she had taken at the Longmont Senior Center in 2007 and 2008. The method focused on relearning movement and she wondered if it could help her. Desperate, she sought out Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitionercm Al Wadleigh of Longmont Feldenkrais.
Freeheart began private lessons called Functional Integration, where Wadleigh uses touch and movement to learn the body’s habits and then reteach the nervous system and brain better movement.
The Feldenkrais Method is not a new idea and has been practiced since the early ’50s, when Moshe Feldenkrais developed the method of healing the body through movement. Feldenkrais discovered it when he healed an old soccer injury on himself that restricted his own ability to move.
Feldenkrais’ discoveries showed that as infants, the body learns to move without explanation or expectation. As we age, our own habits of movement dictate which joints and muscles are used most often, causing stiffness, pain or lack of flexibility and strength. The method can help improve posture, flexibility, and coordination, and can help eiminate restricted movement, chronic pain, tension, and neurological and developmental difficulties.
Focused on movement, learning and change, the method is based on physics, neurology, physiology and martial arts. “Movement is the common thread between all activities in your life…work, play, study, rest,” Wadleigh says. “There is nothing we do that doesn’t rely on movement. It is a lot like the saying, ‘use it or lose it.’”
The body’s muscles and joints have developed habitual habits as a person ages that are not always beneficial to the body. However, it can always be retaught through sensing, learning, exploring and moving, much like children do. Once retaught, the body will learn more comfortable ways of moving, leading to an improved overall sense of well-being and health, Wadleigh says.
The Feldenkrais Method has completely changed Freeheart’s life. After two-and-a-half months of Functional Integration®, she only feels slight pain. “Every lesson has been different and highly effective,” she says. “By the fourth session, the fifth for sure, I was able to walk 1 mile. After eight sessions, I walked 4 miles. Now I’m working toward dancing.”
Wadleigh is happy with Freeheart’s progress and knows he couldn’t have done it without her ability to help. “It takes both people; it’s teamwork,” he says.