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By Jane McClenney, GCFP
I’ve been a Feldenkrais® practitioner since 1996 and have worked with all kinds of injuries, neurological damage, head injuries, and disabilities. With this experience, I know and appreciate how life can change drastically in a moment’s time.
Seduced by a warm March day, I saddled my horse and went for a ride in the pasture. My horse threw me. Flying was OK, landing was hell. I shattered my L3 vertebra when I landed on a rock. Assessing the damage with the surgeon from my hospital bed, we concluded he would do a relatively new type of surgery, inserting a titanium cage at L3 and grafting my bone fragments back together. Not many choices – wheelchair or surgery. And with surgery, I would be able to ride again one day.
The day after surgery, in incredible pain even with dynamite drugs, I knew I had to begin my own rehabilitation. And I would do it with what I know, live and teach: the Feldenkrais Method. My brain went through many gyrations: would I walk normally again, how long would it take to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again, couldn’t I possibly hit a rewind button and go back in time a few days, how stupid to have been riding that day. All useless but normal angst. With a 9” incision on the left side of my abdomen, I discovered my left leg didn’t work well. Slowly, with the tiniest movements possible, I began playing with an Awareness Through Movement® lesson that we practitioners often call “frog legs.” Tiny, tiny movements to roll my left knee out to the side and slide up my foot towards my pelvis.
Each day I continued doing small movements, parts of many Awareness Through Movement lessons until I slowly began to get movement back. To stand. To walk. To bend from the hip joints. The pain was unimaginable. Stop, rest. Try again. Little tiny movements. Lying in bed for 2 months with my legs on a huge roller, I kept making small, gentle movements with hands, arms, neck, keeping the back quiet, to remind my body that one day it would do everything again if I just kept going. As time passed, I continued doing more bits and pieces of lessons, slowly gaining ground. My surgical team and others could not believe the progress I made each week. Focus, move, rest. Engage the brain and body. Transformation. When I was allowed to move my back again, I began working weekly with another Feldenkrais practitioner. Progress was amazing.
Now over a year later, I am happy to say I am practically back to normal. Small movements that add up to huge results: that’s how I describe the Feldenkrais Method. These small movements create major transformation in people’s lives, those I touch as clients, as well as re-creating myself in my own life. I am grateful for this body of knowledge. And yes, I am riding again.