I have a background as a physiotherapist. When I got in touch with the Feldenkrais Method way back in 1978, I immediately felt that this was great stuff and I want to learn more. Now I’m giving Mindful Movements in an educational training Mindful Physiotherapy. Actually, I give Feldenkrais lessons there. Apart from letting them feel how mindfulness can help people with all sorts of complaints I also want them to get more inside of the possibilities of the Feldenkrais Method in the physiotherapy practise. It’s like a journey taking them from experience to experience to give them a different view on movement. It’s a wonderful process and most of the physiotherapist have fun while doing it. There are many of them who try it out with their patients and are astonished about the results.
Tatiana Pestrova is a Russian pediatric physiotherapist, who was in the former Child’Space Training in Amsterdam. She works in a centre where a lot of children with special needs are coming to seek for help with their development. She imitated the way Chava Shelhav works with kids and did it with all her special needs children. Amazing how immediately her results in her therapy changed to the better. All her colleagues come now to her with questions and asking for advice for their special need children.
In the Netherlands the specialisation for Pediatric Physiotherapy is a long study. That makes them very aware of being a good specialist. But they come from the physiotherapist way of thinking. There is little interest to open for the Child’Space Method and find out what they can learn from it. Karin van Teeffelen, physiotherapist and Feldenkrais practitioner, who is now in the Child’Space training, has tried to warm them up to join the training. They where not very interested. On the other hand, she had the following experience in her Feldenkrais practice with a child.
The mother of Max (8 years old) asked me: ”Can you look at Max’ feet?”
She told me he was walking on his toes his whole life long. He had already been operated, his achilleas tendons were lengthened. They had also long treatment-series with a pediatric physical therapist, who stretched his achilleas tendons. And everything didn’t work, he was still walking on his toes.
I told her that I am not a Feldenkrais practitioner specialist with children and that I know some who are. But she wanted me to look at his feet: “maybe you see something different?”
I let the boy walk and I saw a total extension pattern. He walked on his toes, he did not flex his hip joints and he didn’t turn his spine or neck. His arms were in external rotation.
I was worried and first I tested him for spasticity. I am a physical therapist with experience with neurological patients. There were no signs for spasticity.
When Max lie on my Feldenkrais-table I found that:
- there was mobility in his ankle joints
- flexion was ‘strange’ for him
- moving his hip joints was unknown
- flexion of his neck was difficult, especially his upper neck.
I did very short (10 minutes?) ‘hooking the big toe’ with him, that’s a movement where you hook your fingers around the big two and then do some movements with arm and leg together. Balancing in this situation was very difficult for him. There was little differentiation in spine and ribs. Afterwards I let him walk again and he was very surprised (and his mother even more) that it was easier to walk on his heels.
I saw Max 4 times after that. I used a combination of Awareness Through Movement (ATM) and Functional Integration, the 2 ways you can work with the Feldenkrais Method. He did the ATM-movements also at home.
The goals I had, were:
- differentiation spine/ ribs/ neck in flexion-extension and rotation
- getting more familiar with the hip joints
After these 4 lessons he said he was ‘walking normal enough’ and we finished our lessons. Max said: “when I start to walk on my toes again, I will come back to you, to do your crazy exercises.”
Most of the Developmental Movement Explorations (DME’s) are based on the Feldenkrais Method. And although Karin just entered the Child’Space Training, this is a great example about the differences in thinking you need doing Feldenkrais or Child’Space.