How does the Feldenkrais Method work for neck pain? If you suffer from neck pain, you might feel your head is a heavy weight sitting on top of your body or that you can’t quite sit or stand upright without the torso or trunk leaning forward. However, the neck and head should feel like a fluid, interconnected part of your middle back or thoracic spine. The head should feel carried or supported by the pelvis and the surface where you are sitting or standing. The connection between the neck and the rest of the body cannot be overemphasized. As the nervous system perceives your torso has lost its alignment over your pelvis and feet—Base of Support (BOS), it will sacrifice the mobility and comfort of your neck to maintain balance.
But what if there was a better way? A way to sit, walk, run, jump, and exercise without feeling discomfort and disconnect in your neck? The Feldenkrais® Method for neck pain encompasses many groundbreaking treatments to provide relief.
What is Neck Pain?
Neck pain is defined as pain that originates in the neck or cervical spine. The cervical spine, or neck region of the spinal column, comprises seven bones (C1-C7) separated by intervertebral discs. These discs separate the boney vertebrae from one another, preventing the nerves that pass thru the vertebrae from being pinched, and they also give us our height. The discs act as shock absorbers, and their height and the architectural design of the vertebrae allow the head to move freely in all directions. Problems involving the upper cervical spinal joints and nerves can radiate pain into the back of the head and forehead. The lower cervical spinal joints and nerves can radiate pain down one or both arms. These problems can be caused by various disorders or diseases affecting any of the neck’s tissues, including nerves, bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles.
Neck pain is a prevalent ailment that begins with a range of factors, including poor habits of movement, sitting or standing postures, muscle strain in other areas of the body, joint dysfunction or loss of normal mobility, and nerve impingement in other areas of the body.
Neck Pain Causes
The brain continually adjusts the eyes and the head. It wants to keep the head on the torso, over the pelvis, and a support base. The brain’s job is to keep the head safe, so it doesn’t fall and hit the floor. The brain will protect the head at all costs and can adjust all musculoskeletal joints and fascia within the body to make that happen. It will always sacrifice your ability to move, quality, and quantity at every joint level in your body.
The neck is the ‘bridge’ to the torso, pelvis, and base of support. This ‘bridge’ typically carries the head, but when susceptible to injuries and illnesses that cause pain and limit motion, it can no longer ‘carry’ the head. Its’ function changes, and now instead of a bridge, it bears the physical weight of the head, about 10-12 pounds. Imagine holding a 10-pound bowling ball in your hand. There are many reasons why we have neck pain. Some causes of neck pain include:
- Strained muscles. Strains can be caused by spending too much time in one position, such as slumped over a computer or a smartphone. Even simple activities like reading in bed can put excessive tension on the neck muscles as they try to balance the head over the torso and pelvis. Muscle strains are also the result of sudden quick, and forceful changes in muscle contraction, such as in whiplash injuries or near falls or slips.
- Damaged joints. Neck joints deteriorate with age, just as other joints in the body, because of the excessive wear and tear we place on the body, not knowing how to relieve it. The body’s natural response to excessive wear and tear is to support the area that is moving too much or that is too compressed to activate the skeletal system to make more bone in the area. Excessive bone in a joint is called osteoarthritis, and bone spurs due to this wear and tear, further exacerbating the cycle of impaired joint motion and pain.
- Nerve compression. The nerves that emerge from the spinal cord pass through the holes created by the connection of individual vertebrae stacking up on each other, much like a child’s building blocks. Poor movement and sedentary habits can further erode the flexible discs supporting and separating the individual vertebrae. As the disc receives excessive compression or thins, it may bulge or herniate, blocking the pathway of nerves as they exit through the neck vertebrae.
The Feldenkrais™ Method for Neck Pain
Founded upon educational principles, The Feldenkrais® Method is a form of movement therapy that Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais developed in the 1940s. It is based on the principle that the nervous system controls all movement in the body and that influencing the nervous system through our intention and attention to how we move can improve our overall health and well-being.
Used to positively impact a variety of conditions, the Feldenkrais® method is particularly effective for neck pain. The neck or cervical spine plays many unseen roles in our activities of daily function. It quickly responds to even the smallest improvements in movement in the thoracic spine—middle back, pelvic—hip mobility, or ankle mobility. Improved motion in these areas can lead to significant reductions in neck pain.
You can use this approach for neck pain in two main ways: Awareness Through Movement (ATM) classes and Functional Integration (FI) sessions.
In ATM classes, students learn movements designed to improve awareness of how the body moves, gradually improving dysfunctional or restricted movement patterns. FI sessions are in-person, one-on-one sessions between a practitioner and a client, during which the practitioner uses gentle touch to help teach the client and their nervous system to improve their movement.
Research studies have shown that both ATM and FI are effective in treating neck pain.
Who Can Benefit from a Revolution in Movement?
We are all familiar with the saying that humans are creatures of habit. Unfortunately, this can often lead to pain and injuries when it comes to movement. The Feldenkrais® Method is a revolutionary approach to movement that can help resolve neck pain and improve overall mobility.
The principle of neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and adapt new neural pathways for better and more efficient movement. The Feldenkrais® Method influences neuroplasticity by using intentional, gentle movements and awareness to retrain the brain and nervous system. New neural pathways help alleviate pain, improve range of motion, and prevent injuries.
Who can benefit from Feldenkrais® Method approaches? Anyone who wants to improve their movement or suffers from pain or mobility issues. Including those with injuries or surgery and those with chronic conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
If you are suffering from neck pain, these somatic treatments can help. So why not give it a try?
How does the Feldenkrais Method work for neck pain? The Feldenkrais® method for neck pain is a gentle and effective way to address it. Learning how to access the body’s natural patterns for movement can help relieve pain and improve the range of motion.
If you suffer from pain, consider trying a few sessions. You may be surprised at just how much relief you can find.
At Montgomery Somatics, we specialize in somatic education. Thomas Hanna, a Feldenkrais student, is widely credited with coining the term “somatic,” which derives from the Greek word sō-mă, which means “body.” The Feldenkrais® Method, Alexander Technique, Rolfing, Hanna Somatics, and other forms of somatic education became popular in the early to mid-1900s. Visit our website to learn more.