01 January 2005 - Personal stories
Scott Clark, Feldenkrais Practitioner

Beatrice and her Knee

Beatrice came to me after a motorcycle accident — two years after. Her right knee had been badly injured and she had spent almost a full year alternating between surgery and plaster.  Afterwards, she had some physiotherapy and seemingly enough time for nature to work its cure, but still she had a good deal of pain and discomfort. This affected both legs, though in different ways, and was sneaking up into her back as well.

When I lifted her right leg, feeling for the easiest ways it would be willing to move, the movements at the ankle, knee and hip felt unrelated; the close teamwork that we call co-ordination wasn’t there. In the left leg I could feel that co-ordination, but it was very muscley and tense. This sensation of overwork extended up into her whole left side. It struck me that, as she had spent a long time leaning leftwards onto a crutch, she had developed not only the muscles of her left side, but the habits of movement that kept that side tight and gripped. This had become part of every movement she did, and part of her idea of who she was.

So this was my job: to help her learn again how the parts of her right leg could move as a team, to convince her that the habits of holding on the left side were no longer needed, and to carry this learning into her self-image. She had spent such a long time reacting to pain that the very idea of learning by following comfort seemed impossible to her. But slowly we persevered, combining small bits of easy movement into larger patterns of ease, imitating the original process by which she learned to use her legs. Today, she can still find the scars on her skin, but her movement isn’t troubled, and she enjoys walking, running and dancing as much as you or I.