Last year I turned 60 and over the last 10 years have become accustomed to all kinds of people, health professionals and others, telling me that I just have to become accustomed to the various aches and pains, that I must accept that I can’t always do what I used to take for granted.
I was frustrated by this casual acceptance, particularly when it was in relation to my playing of golf, something that I took up seriously about 8 years ago and which has become one of my abiding passions. It was a fact that playing golf did exacerbate my existing shoulder and neck problems of pain and lack of flexibility but I couldn’t accept that it had to be like this. To add insult to injury, this was definitely holding back my golfing progress and that was unacceptable.
I was ready to be shown a new way of using my body and, as luck would have it, a friend at golf made an important remark about Feldenkrais.
Like most people, I had developed many problematic uses of my body, things which not only caused me pain with movement but also, as I learned, prevented me from using my body efficiently and strongly. My journey began with my passion for golf, and particularly of course, the neck and shoulder problems.
I particularly love the way in which Feldenkrais combines the hands on work on problem areas with theory, showing me how I am using my body and how it actually prefers to work. I am someone who really needs to understand how a situation has come about and exactly how something, like my body, works in order to be able to move into the next stage. Exercises then help me to retrain or perhaps, reprogram my body, and of course, my mind.
As I say, my journey began with my golfing body. But since many of my problems in this regard came about precisely because of bad habits and inefficient movement, I really began to notice improvement in so many other areas.
For the first time for a very long time, I could sleep without neck pain and stiffness giving me restless nights and often painful mornings. For the first time I could sit at the wheel of my car and feel my entire back and head resting on the seat, so driving became less tiring and far more pleasurable. My other passions of gardening and cooking also benefitted enormously.
Many friends have commented that I look taller and I know that I stand far straighter rather than slumping my shoulders forward. I am more flexible and have far more energy, a much improved sense of well being. In order to learn even more about how to work on problem areas in my life, I have also attended some of Feldenkrais classes that deal with common problems like relaxation and lifting loads. Here, it is great to find out that other people have many of the same problems as you as well as learning how to deal with them by finding better ways of doing and moving.
So this adventure goes on.
One thing that I had come to accept was that I had a ‘bad left knee’, caused by arthritis. Now this did worry me and make me feel that I was getting old. I had trouble running and even walking required considerable concentration if the path was a little rough. Even crossing the road had become a challenge.
I thought that this was my life. Feldenkrais showed that I was wrong. With a careful analysis of what was happening when I walked and what I needed to do, and with a set of appropriate exercises, my body has worked wonders. I can now walk easily and the benefits have spread to all the things that I do that require walking!
This has been so life affirming. I thought the problem was here to stay, a permanent and debilitating part of getting older. Feldenkrais showed me how to overcome this and has made me more flexible, resilient and determined to maintain my mobility for a more enjoyable and healthy life.
Working with Feldenkrais has been a wonderful and totally rewarding journey. I find learning about the processes of the body’s movement fascinating and as pleasurable as learning and putting into practice other much more efficient ways of doing everyday things. Feldenkrais has changed my life. And we have further to go.
And what of my golf? Since Feldenkrais I have brought my handicap down by 5 points!