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Find the Feldenkrais Method® & Play Forever

By Lori L. Malkoff, MD, MPH, GCFP

After forty years of surfing, it now feels like a dance with the ocean each and every time I go out into the waves. In 1994, I was learning to do a drop knee cut back, a seemingly easy enough trick to learn,on a longer board, and I felt a pop in my left knee. It swelled up and hurt for a few weeks, but ostensibly healed. That is unless I tried to run, golf or play basketball, in which case it would swell up and hurt all over again. I tried everything to make my knee better: physical therapy, massage, energy healing, rolfing, yoga, acupuncture, pilates, and finally surgery for a torn medial meniscus.

Nothing helped the pain that continued even after the surgery. Nothing until I found a Feldenkrais® practitioner, Mark Reese, who had a practice in San Diego. Not only did the Feldenkrais lessons he gave me make all the pain in my knee go away, but I felt better, younger and more vibrant! I was so amazed that after several treatments I decided to become a practitioner myself. I was going to be four years older anyway, I reasoned, I might as well be years brighter with a certification and new level of expertise.

Several years later, I hit a rock on my skateboard. My left foot stopped while my left leg continued forward. Ouch, @#$&^, that really hurt. I just knew I’d really injured myself. This time my knee swelled up hugely and the pain was severe. I went to my doctor and got an MRI that showed a severed ACL, and a torn medial AND lateral meniscus. Wow! I’d “blown it out,” as they say. My primary care physician offered me an orthopedic consult and physical therapy. Instead of conventional care, I used the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education exclusively. Two weeks and several Functional Integration® and Awareness Through Movement® lessons later, I was walking well and biking a bit. Five weeks post-injury, I was surfing.

My knee is still “blown out” on x-ray: none of the injuries I documented are gone. It’s just that now my movements have been optimized and organized for all the tasks I ask of my body. Now it is many years post injury and my knee remains functional and pain free! And that’s why I immersed myself in the Feldenkrais Method all those years ago; it’s still the most empowering decision I have ever made.

Lori L. Malkoff, MD, MPH is one of only a few medical doctors in the U.S. to be trained and certified as a Feldenkrais practitioner. Specializing in chronic pain relief and providing pain treatment for athletes, seniors and others, Dr. Malkoff owns and operates the Feldenkrais Center of San Diego in Encinitas, CA.

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