Manage Pain While Healing (Proximal/Distal principle)

I have a student right now who’s working to get past a really NASTY case of tennis elbow that has completely put her out of business for months on end. Physical therapy has helped a little bit, but not enough.

One of the strategies we’re pursuing is helping her to “Re-route” her movement so that she can lift her arm from a surface by bending her torso (in any direction) or slide her hand along her thigh, thus allowing her elbow to get bent, rather than trying to use the muscles of her forearm to bend the elbow all on their own.

We need to use the “big power” muscles at the center of our bodies to generate force, and the little muscles to refine that force. Pain is not actually damage: it’s a signal to us that we’re doing something improper that requires attention (the “pay attention” part is why chronic pain is so exhausting). That pain can in many cases go away if you can learn to move your body in a way that isn’t causing the injured place additional damage, and that recruits muscles differently. “Nerves that fire together, wire together.” If you change the muscular recruitment pattern, you can diminish the risk that pain levels you. There is a tremendous difference between allowing your shoulder blade to move while you bend your elbow, and not allowing it to move!

Tai Chi is full of examples of learning to move from the center of your body, and my upcoming book Klutz Therapy will have several specific examples of how you can add these habits to your daily life so as to get the majority of the benefits that tai chi players get from their art*, at no additional cost to your daily schedule.

*of course, if you’re learning tai chi to fight, rather than for health benefits, that’s a different kettle of fish and a lot more work.

“Get Loose at Lunch” Discontinued: will be Private Lessons

An odd thing has happened recently post-Covid(tm), and that is that interest in group (Awareness Through Movement) classes has gotten really odd. I am still teaching ATM by arrangement (so if you have a group, please do reach out to me!), but interest in “walk-in group classes” is low enough right now that I’m discontinuing them in favor of private lessons at lunchtime. The interest now appears to be from pre-existing groups who want to study and learn together, and that’s how I’ll be pursuing ATM classes for the next year.

Quick Changes Coming to Irving Feldenkrais

  1. Our rates are going to have to go up. I am deadly serious about making the Feldenkrais Method accessible to everyone, not just the well-heeled, and because of that, my rates have been roughly half of what most my peers charge. Unfortunately, inflation is what it is, and since that hits studio space as well as food and gas, etcetera, I’m going to have to start bringing my rates closer into line with what most folks charge (or at least, no longer 1990s rates). Already-existing clients will see the rates go up slowly.
  2. I will be taking credit cards moving forwards. The fee they charge is real, and adds up, but for some folks the other payment options are notably inconvenient. Message heard. 🙂
  3. Irving Feldenkrais now has two subsidiary locations: one in Denton, and one in Addison. Stay tuned for details and addresses, etc. — Existing clients: if either of these is easier for you than Irving, let me know.

    Stay Warm! Winter isn’t quite over yet!

Booking A First Lesson

Hi folks! Some important things for people booking their first lesson.

1. “Fit” matters. The first lesson is half consultation, and half “getting to know you” to see whether or not we are a good fit and likely to enjoy working with each other. If you determine that we are not but are still interested in pursuing more learning, I will happily refer you to others who might be that better fit for which you’re looking. I am a professional with a thick skin. 🙂
1.a. Public-Service Discount — As a thank-you, I ask lower tuition rates from Teachers, Active-Duty Military, and Public-Safety Personnel (LEOs, EMS, etc etc) working in extreme high-stress environments on behalf of the public good. Inquire if this is you.

2. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. I may ask you to remove your shoes and on occasion your socks if any if it turns out that they are restricting you more than they should, but that’s it: this is a fully-clothed modality.

3. You have a variety of venue options: Please see the LOCATIONS post for what’s currently available.

4. These are lessons, not “sessions.” The more curious you can be when you walk through the door, the more and faster you will learn. While I typically schedule in hourly-blocks simply to maintain sane time management, the duration and scope of the lesson will depend on
a) what you need
b) what I can provide you
c) what you can absorb

This means that a lesson could go as long as an hour (or occasionally longer upon agreement), or come to a close more quickly. There is no reason to waste your valuable time “filling up the clock” once you have learned what you’ve come to learn,, and “larding up” lessons to do so is counter-productive for your learning.

5. Payment Details. Payment is due at time of service. I cannot accept insurance, but I can accept payments via HSA accounts. I reserve the right to request payment in the case of a last-minute cancellation. I will not always do so, because we all get that “life happens.” But if we confirm for a time and cancel at the last moment, that’s a block of time I set aside from other projects and/or family in order to earn a living….but didn’t.

6. Collaboration. I am always happy to collaborate with people working in related fields, whether that is PT, OT, Structural Integration, Neuro-Psychology, etc.

Thanks, and talk to you soon!

Sistine Chapel and its Live Models

It was a pleasure this morning to see the Sistine Chapel exhibit in Irving Mall, and also to notice some true-to-life details not really visible at a distance.

These hands have eaten some hammer blows — check out those knuckles.
Besides the really nice sense of movement here, check out that Cherub going “hey God! Imma tickle his foot…”
See the inside of that dude’s foot (emphasis, red oval)? That heavy musculature on the inside of the foot is a classic sign of somebody who collapses their arches and shoves their body weight onto their big toe. EVERY person I have worked with who “had flat feet” showed this excess foot musculature as a necessary compensation for lack of proper arch use.

It’s “inside baseball, but still, really subtle stuff that shows Michelangelo was paying real attention to his models. If you can see this exhibit, it’s WELL worth your time.

Form Grants (pain-free!) Function

Just spent a good chunk of the morning with a professional artist, and I have to say, I want to (kindly, gently, figuratively) punch “well known local art-education school” right in the nose.

That’s because the artist is in constant pain trying to work, and the reason this person is in constant pain is because the training institution didn’t check the students for proper form and body usage. Being an artist while rotating your wrist by generating your power to do so right at the wrist joint, rather than by turning from the elbow (to rotate the bones in your forearm and let your little joints and muscles rest/relax) is a really bad idea.

Ask a typist: “good form or you break.”
Ask a laborer: “good form or you break.”
Ask a musician: “good form or you break.”
Ask a (pro) cook: “good form or you break.”
Ask a weightlifter: “good form or you break (fast).”

It’s the same thing for art. It’s the same thing for everything. The better you use yourself, no matter how “obviously physical” the task, the less likely you are to find yourself in pain and struggling to do what it is that you love to do.

If you love doing something, it’s worth doing it well (and not being in pain). If pain is stopping you from doing what you love, let alone endangering your career, reach out. To me, or to somebody else, so we can help you get back to “doing the thing” with less strain and more joy.

Building Blocks

Helped a gent improve his judo roll/somersault this morning by helping him feel how on one side he’s able to flex forwards while rotating his shoulders, and on his other side he had no idea how to do that. Visible improvement in a guy’s forward roll in five painless minutes flat. I’ll link it up from Youtube once I have it online.

If you’re an athlete or musician or dancer, THIS IS IMPORTANT:
“Techniques” are not fundamentals. Flexion, extension, rotation, translation throughout your joints as a cooperative human whole — THIS is fundamentals. The better you can coordinate yourself, the better your techniques will get… even if you’re barely practicing them.

Moving forwards, post-Covid

So Covid-19 did a wrecking-ball job on a lot of local studios. We’ve lost four different locations over the past year. Currently I’m working from a home studio and at the facility where I teach fencing (Warlord Combat Academy).

So if you’d like to book an in-person lesson currently, as of February/March 2022, the options are:
1. Come to my place (if you’re a lady and have concerns, my wife works from home and we can schedule a day when it’s certain she won’t have had to commute into the office), because it’s comfortable and quiet and convenient from most of the Metroplex.
2. Meet at Warlord Combat Academy (off Grauwyler/Loop 12 in Irving), because you may or may not be a fencer, but think “swords are neat,” and like that environment. (I’ve had a possibly surprising number of “the last human beings you would ever guess” really enjoy getting lessons there.
3. I’ll come to you. I have to charge for my gas and drive time, but unlike most of my peers, I am completely willing to make house and/or office calls.

Thanks. It’s been a crazy couple of years, and it looks like we’ll be going through another year or two of everything being just a little hibbledy before it all calms down.

Awareness Through Movement starts February in Irving!

Thanks to a partnership with Elite Dance Company of Texas, I am proud to announce that we once again have live, in-person Awareness Through Movement classes in North Texas!

And the space is gorgeous.

This was not easy. Most establishments had to close during the Covid-19 pandemic, because they were too small to allow the social distancing required, too hard to clean between classes, or both — at a time when a lot of people who were at higher risk needed to shelter-in-place and minimize public contact. Most Feldenkrais Practitioners retreated online in order to survive.

Do I teach online? Yes! Every Sunday at 8pm, and if you’d like to wind down your weekend and clear out all the dross and stress while setting yourself up for a great work-week, I’d love to see you in that class.

But I have no plans to shift to a mostly-online teaching experience, and have been actively looking for a venue that was set up in such a way that in-person classes could be a thing. There’s little substitute for getting to smile at somebody across the room while practicing (or for everybody to do so when somebody snickers at my “Dad Jokes” during class). Safe Social Contact is a mandatory requirement for sane human beings.

And the space is gorgeous. It’s large, sunny-but-not-too-sunny, well-mirrored, and boasts a raised floor designed for dancers, so a single yoga mat or moving blanket is more than enough padding for most participants. The location is great, too, just off HWY 114 and O’Connor Rd. in Irving, and thus easily reached from almost anywhere in the Metroplex — click here for directions.

The one trick is that you park in the UPPER lot, which has lots of space.

Elite Dance was also founded during the pandemic, and thus has Covid-19 safety literally built into the business from the ground up. (But for now, please bring your own blanket or yoga mat, just to be sure)

Classes are every Sunday at 2pm: you can sign up for classes on Elite Dance’s website registration page. Please be sure to scroll down and select “Awareness Through Movement.”

It’s been a long year, and I cannot wait to help everybody move better, feel better, and think more clearly. See you there!

In Person Awareness Through Movement coming Soon!

Covid19 has upended so MANY things, and Irving Feldenkrais is no stranger to that. Most Awareness through Movement instructors have shifted to purely online classes, and that’s been a good thing, particularly as venue after venue closes. We’ve lost two of our venues as well — there was just no way to run classes in relatively small spaces with the social distancing people need to stay safe. Unfortunately, the price of that is that people who aren’t living with families or loved ones have wound up denied much of their sense of community and the intimacy people need to be healthy (regardless of type: a lover’s caress, a kid’s snuggle, a hug, sitting with somebody over tea, it all falls into what so many people call “connection.” And sadly, online connection is a real but sadly ersatz flavor of it.)

Binge-watching The Mandalorian has its limits, too.

Fortunately, if you miss Awareness Through Movement in-person, we’ve found a solution — a large, beautiful dance studio created during the Covid19 crisis and built from the ground-up with enough space and ventilation to hold classes in while maintaining the distancing everyone needs to stay safe. The location is great, too — right in Irving, near Las Colinas, and with excellent freeway access.

So if Awareness Through Movement is something you’re happier doing in-person, where you can hear somebody else giggling, complaining, or busting out with a snarky comment about yours-truly-the-instructor’s horrible Dad Jokes… options are coming. More news soon.