Mary* arrived at the studio frustrated and resigned. She had received a diagnosis of MS years ago, and had dedicated herself to living a full and healthy life. She ate well and was active, despite the disease’s progression.
Recently, Mary had begun to suffer from pain in her left knee. The pain was so bad that her busy schedule of travel and activities had to be curtailed. This was causing a lot of anxiety and unhappiness for Mary. Her doctor had told her to rest, but rest hadn’t made any difference. Going up and down stairs was becoming very difficult. Mary had consulted a physical therapist, personal trainer, and chiropractor, but many of their suggestions and therapeutic movements were painful in and of themselves.
I began by asking Mary to walk normally, looking for clues to the knee pain. Often knee pain is more about the movement in the hip or ankle, rather than anything the knee is doing. The movement in Mary’s hip was much more fluid, free and round on one side than the other.
I asked Mary to stand and then sit, directing her movement in each position. Finally, I had her lie on the Feldenkrais table and explored the possibility of her hip moving more freely. I directed her movement with my voice and with my hands, noticing the differences in movement patterns
between the two sides. We worked together on the table for about 40 minutes. When we finished, Mary’s knee pain was gone. She was astonished and happy.
I recommended that Mary come to the studio for a few more individual sessions, or to the group classes, to reinforce the new, more comfortable pattern of movement we had found. She was not interested in the group classes, but continued to see me once a week for individual lessons.
Occasionally Mary would arrive for her lesson with a painful knee. Sometimes we could trace the pain to a movement done with her PT or personal trainer. I encouraged her to listen to her sensation and not do anything that hurt. We set up some blocks to use as stairs and practiced ways of climbing stairs that were functional and comfortable.
Mary went on a one week trip where there was a lot of walking, and especially stair-climbing. She returned saying that she had done as she pleased – walked, climbed stairs, stood for long periods during tours – and never had any knee pain. We agreed that our work together had been a success.
*Names have been changed and some non-essential details altered to protect the privacy of the student discussed.