Movement Therapy

What is Movement Therapy?

Movement therapy encompasses a wide range of techniques that use the body and its movements to improve muscle strength, coordination, mobility and overall body function. Movement therapy is a process that helps people to become more aware of their body, as well as strong and limber. The main goals of most movement therapies are to help patients resolve dysfunctional habits, improve posture, gain strength, and relieve pain.

Varieties/Types

Dance Therapy
Dance therapy uses movement psychotherapeutically in order to address the physical and emotional needs of the individual. A dance therapy patient uses their thoughts, feelings and attitudes to express themselves through various body movements.

Feldenkrais Method
The Feldenkrais Method uses gentle movement and attention directed to movement to enhance body function. This method of somatic movement helps to increase your range of motion and improve flexibility and coordination. Feldenkrais allows patients to become more aware of their neuromuscular patterns and learn new ways of moving in order to live life more comfortably.

Yoga
Yoga, originating from Hindu culture, is the exercise practice of physical postures and positions that purify the body and help cultivate physical strength and stamina. Outlined in the ancient text, Yoga Sutra, are eight limbs of yoga. We generally only practice in the third limb, called asana, which is typically how Americans know yoga today. There are several varieties of yoga under the third limb; everything from Ashtanga to Hot Yoga. To learn more about the many different varieties of yoga please visit: www.yogajournal.com .

Pilates
Pilates is a system of exercises made up of controlled movements that incorporate tension and self-resistance to help build strength and flexibility. Pilates puts emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment and developing a strong core making it successful in treating lower back pain, improving balance and improving pelvic floor dysfunction. Pilates treatment involves work with a machine called the reformer that help guides the exercises along with an instructor.

GYROTONIC(R)
GYROTONIC and GYROKINESIS are modern movement therapies that can support clients who are already healthy or recovering from illness or injury. Developed by Juliu Horvath, this treatment uses the principles of yoga, dance, tai chi, and swimming. Training involves a series of circular and fluid exercises that works the entire body through muscular, skeletal, and cardiovascular stimulation.

The Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is hand-on movement therapy in which the practitioner guides the patient through movements such as sitting, standing up, bending and walking. This method particularly focuses on the relationship between the neck and head. The goal is to teach the patient the appropriate amount of effort to use for a particular activity.

Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a form of exercise that uses graceful, flowing movements and deep breathing as a way to reduce stress, increase flexibility, balance, muscle strength, energy and more. It is recommended that beginners take a class with a knowledgeable instructor to gain the full benefits of Tai Chi and learn the proper techniques. This is an ancient form of movement therapy that is heavily practiced throughout Asia and growing in popularity in the United States.

Qigong
The word Qigong means “cultivating energy”. The practice of Qigong integrates physical postures, breathing and mental focus. Unlike other exercise programs, Qigong uses the meridian system used in acupuncture and combines it with the importance of focusing the mind. Qigong reduces stress, builds stamina, increases energy and enhances the immune system, and is a basic practice incorporated by various martial arts disciplines as well.

Trager Psychophysical Integration
The Trager method involves a series of gentle shaking and rocking movements to help create a sense of lightness and freedom in the body. These movements also help to support proper body flexibility and posture. The Trager method has had success with some polio patients.

Body-Mind Centering
Body-mind centering (or BMC) is an educational and therapeutic approach to movement. The patient is taught to explore and develop movement patterns in order to change dysfunctional movement habits. BMC uses a variety of techniques such as: movement, touch, guided imagery, music, props, etc. BMC has helped in preventing and recovering from chronic injuries and improving neuromuscular response in children with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.

Resources & References

American Dance Therapy Association

Movement Therapy Foundation

Tree: Different Types of Body Movement Therapy

The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education

Yoga Journal

Mayo Clinic: Tai Chi

The National Qigong Association

What next?

Search Find Wellness to find rewarding and fulfilling movement therapies in your area! If you're not having fun, don't be shy to try different kinds until you find the ones that suit you best.