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Ankle Flexibility Trumps Working Harder

by Pamela Kihm, GCFP

“My friends have noticed I'm walking better.” Miriam mentioned this to me one week after her introduction to the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education. That first session she had learned that, instead of tightening through her “weak” ankles, she could let her ankles relax so her heels could peel off the ground; and that, instead of gripping her toes, she could let her heel-peel relax and lengthen her toes. That 91 year old said, “This is what I've been waiting for my whole life.”

 
The idea that you “can't teach old dogs new tricks” definitely does not apply to the Feldenkrais Method—unless the student doesn't want to widen his or her movement repertoire. “But dear, I always do it this way” is what another ninety year old said every time I offered to increase her movement options. She was smart and strong, but insisted on pulling herself up stairs with her arms instead of propelling herself up from the step below with a heel-peel.

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