Mobilization Through Bodywork
I have divided the mobilization modalities into three areas: structural work, energetic work and work through movement. While there is much overlap with each approach in theory and practice, the following is what I mean in general:
Work through movement:
The Los Angeles based orthopedist Robert C. Klapper, MD, Director of the Cedars-Sinai Institute for Joint Replacement provides good advise about when THR is indicated.
Another fun resource is Allegra Kent's "Water Beauty Book".
Starting in the fourth months of my rehab I studied Alexander technique at the urging of my physical therapist who thought that it would improve my gait and address my lingering back pain. I studied with the former Paul Taylor dancer, Jane Kosminsky, who herself had a recent knee replacement. (Read her joint replacement story here.) The technique involves the examination and correction of everyday activities like sitting and rising from a chair, gait training, head placement, lifting (using "the Monkey" position), etc. There is also table work which involves the teacher placing the student in an anatomically correct rest position to teach the body to be at ease by gentle suggestion.
“Developed by an actor who lost his voice due to improper posture, the Alexander Technique involves a series of subtle changes in stance and movement that, once learned, are to be incorporated into everyday life.”.
Here is a helpful link:
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As part of my own post-rehab physical therapy I learned to do the “pelvic clock”, but otherwise I was pretty ignorant about the method. Soon after dancerhips.com went online I got an email from Deborah Page, a former dancer and massage therapist awaiting her own THR, who is also a Feldenkrais teacher. She wrote:
“I wanted to invite you to research the Feldenkrais Method. Many times Awareness Through Movement (ATM) Lessons have saved the day for me, and a Functional Integration Lesson from a practitioner has the ability to really shift the body's habitual organization for movement. It has surprised me that so few people recovering from a THR know about it. Feldenkrais teaches the brain about improved coordination, something no other method does quite as elegantly. It would be a great resource for anyone recovering from hip surgery. ATM is what you can do for yourself; FI is the hands-on version, received from a practitioner. (Pelvic Clock is an example of ATM)”
“I'd like to recommend Elizabeth Beringer's ATM series Embodied Learning: Focus on the Hips and Low Back. (Audiotapes). This has been the single most significant set I've worked with for my hips. You can order it from Feldenkrais-resources.com. She is a very good teacher and the lessons are quite clear.”
--Personal communication: Deborah Page, LMT, GCFP
Integrative Somatic Therapy & Movement Education
Deborah Page recommends:
This is the website of the renowned teachers David Bersin and Elizabeth Beringer. The site is also one of the best sources of books, tapes, and other learning material both for practitioners and general public. Here are two quotes from that site:
“Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself." --Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais
The Feldenkrais Method is an unusual melding of motor development, bio-mechanics, psychology and martial arts. It is recognized for its demonstrated ability to improve posture, flexibility, coordination, self-image and to alleviate muscular tension and pain. It consists of two compelling and versatile applications: Awareness Through Movement® and Functional Integration® modalities harness the nervous system's ability to self-organize towards more effective and intelligent action. Integration® modalities harness the nervous system's ability to self-organize towards more effective and intelligent action.
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Much of my sanity and preservation of my body in the year prior to my THR surgery can be attributed to my work with Roxlyn Moret, a yoga therapist who is certified in Body-Mind Centering®.
Based on the work of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, this movement therapy is informed by her observations of neonatal movement, the study of embryological development, of cellular and gross anatomy, as well as yoga and dance. I found the work profound in its deep wisdom of the body’s innate knowledge and intelligence. The work itself is gentle and supportive in both the movement component and the hands on work.
Here is how it is described on the official website:
Body-Mind Centering® (BMCtm) is an integrated approach to transformative experience through movement re-education and hands-on repatterning. Developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, it is an experiential study based on the embodiment and application of anatomical, physiological, psychophysical and developmental principles, utilizing movement, touch, voice and mind. This study leads to an understanding of how the mind is expressed through the body and the body through the mind.
Now very popular in health clubs across the nation, Pilates is very familiar to dancers as a movement modality to develop core strength. I found, however, that as my hip joint deteriorated, it was very hard for me to do the mat work without gripping my hip flexors. Also, since as compensation for my bad hip my back was also very stiff, it was hard for me to do all the spine rolling exercises.
Pilates was developed by Joe Pilates (1880-1968). He was a boxer and a gymnast and had studied many exercise training programs including ancient Greco Roman exercises, as well as Eastern traditions and European physical rehabilitation styles. In the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in NYC, Pilates worked with the most famous dancers of his time including members of the New York City Ballet and the Martha Graham company.
The Pilates Method consists of exercises done on different pieces of equipment (the “reformer”, the “tower”, etc) and on the mat. It is designed to develop core strength by targeting the abdominal muscles and the paraspinal muscles. It addresses alignment issues by balancing the body’s musculature. Practitioners report increased strength, flexibility and coordination.
Hilary Cartwright, the former Royal Ballet dancer and master Gyrotonic® teacher, had a THR in 2003. It is through her that I have learned how valuable a modality Gyrotonic® can be. Hilary has worked with many dancers both before and after THR with excellent results. (You can read her THR story here.)
The Gyrotonic® system was developed by Juliu Horvath. Like Joe Pilates, Juliu combined his personal training and interests into a coherent system of movement. In this case, Juliu was a ballet dancer and a gymnast who had studied yoga, tai chi and Chinese medicine. Through the latter he understood the tremendous value of breath work. Using his understanding of the human body he developed unique pulley and resistance based equipment that permitted the body to do spherical movement. Full circular movement could mobilize the joints while strengthening the body’s core. He synchronized the exercises with the breath to enhance the cardiovascular benefits of the movement.
Hilary describes the work in this way:
"The Gyrotonic pulley tower works like the perfect dance partner, giving resistance where necessary, yet assisting particularly with rotational movements; facilitating the joints by engaging the correct supporting muscles without stressing or tensing other ligaments and tendons. The resulting sensation is to bring the dancers mind and body into a state of harmony."
Yoga, in my mind, is in a class by itself since it is essentially a spiritual practice with a movement component. Done as therapy, however, there is an emphasis on using the postures to promote physical healing.
For more about Yoga and THR, consult the Yoga page.
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(Written 5/21/04 and updated 7/15/05)