A Leg to Stand On

A Leg To Stand On

Last week I saw two women back to back-pretty common actually. One has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis- fortunately the type that comes and goes as opposed to the type that gets progressively worse. The other had a ligament reconstruction in one of her knees a couple of years ago and went through extensive traditional physical therapy. Again neither is out of the realm of folks that I work with. But what happened in those two hours reminded me about something very fundamental to the work I do and prompted me to write this post.

What happened is that I did a very similar session with both of these women. They both noticed changes and were pleased with the outcome of their time with me. There were details specific to the person I was working with, but the template was the same.

The woman who has MS went through a period where her right leg did not function well because of her neurologic disease. Although she feels pretty good now I could see telltale evidence of this. The woman who had knee ligament reconstruction still cannot walk comfortably for exercise.  From the point of view of medical diagnoses these are two very different situations. Yet from my functional viewpoint neither of these women fully and easily shifted weight onto their “involved leg”.

My work in both cases involved helping them experience what it would be like to be able to do that- including all the small components of weight shifting such as shifts in the ribs and sternum. Because of their situations they both had developed more or less workable avoidance solutions that are no longer necessary, but that have become habitual and are getting in the way of optimal comfortable movement. Both women went home with little “exercises” to reinforce what we did and instructions regarding what to pay attention to sustain the changes.

Do you know someone who could use a “leg to stand on”? – Diagnosis irrelevant.

P.S.   Side Effects


Several years ago I was in a Feldenkrais continuing education class. We were instructed to choose a leg to work with and were given a movement lesson where we worked only with that leg. We were then told to get up and we were asked a variety of questions, mostly “biomechanical.” But what really stood out for me is this. The instructor asked us to stand on the leg we had not worked with and think about something that was challenging or uncomfortable for us. Then we were asked to do the same standing on the leg we had worked with and to notice if the experience was different. For me it was profoundly so. While standing on the leg I had worked with, I felt much more able to deal with the situation that was troubling me. I had a leg to stand on.






  1. Marsha, what an elegant approach to working with people who have problems with movement. Getting down to the why – such as not being able to stand on one leg – is more more important than the what – MS, post-surgery, post-stroke, yoga klutz 🙂 …. The fact that you can use similar lessons to inspire that function is a wonderful testimony to the efficacy of the Feldenkrais method.

  2. Thank you so much Holly – Your comment helps with an ongoing issue for the Feldenkrais world. This is – how is it that we can successfully work with such a wide range of problems – and that saying so does not make Feldenkrais seem like “snake oil.”

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