Why Would a Doctor Get into the Feldenkrais Method?

Lori Malkoff, MD surfing in the annual Stone Steps contest finals 2013

Lori Malkoff, MD surfing in the annual Stone Steps contest finals 2013

I am often asked, "Why would a Medical Doctor get into the Feldenkrais Method?" Great question!!

It all started in 1993 on a surfboard. I was doing a drop knee cut back on a longer board, and I felt a pop in my left knee. My knee swelled up and hurt for a few weeks, but seemingly healed. That is unless I tried to do anything fun: run with the dog, play golf, basketball, SURF! In which case my knee would swell up and hurt all over again. I tried everything to make my knee better: physical therapy, massage, energy healing, rolfing, yoga, acupuncture, Pilates and finally SURGERY for a torn medial meniscus. Yes, I finally caved and let the surgeon in. That was desperate, and useless! Nothing helped the pain in my knee that I still had even one year after surgery. Nothing until I found a Feldenkrais Practitioner three miles from my Encinitas home, Dr. Mark Reese (RIP). Yes, I am a lucky girl!!  Not only did Mark Reese, PhD live close, he happened to be one of the best Feldenkrais Practitioners in the US. The Feldenkrais Method not only made all the pain in my knee go away, I felt better, younger and more vibrant! I was so amazed, that after several treatments, I decided to become a practitioner in 1995. I was going to be 4 years older anyway, I might as well be 4 years smarter with a certification and new level of expertise!! I loved my Feldenkrais Training with Mark, and I am proud to have graduated from his teacher training program in 1998.

In 1999, I hit a rock on my skateboard while simply cruising down my street. My left foot, the foot on the skateboard as I was pushing myself along with my right foot, came to a full stop, while my left femur (thigh bone) continued forward. Ouch, @#$&^, that hurt. I just knew I had really hurt myself. This time my knee swelled up immediately. Within one hour it was quite huge, and the pain was severe. I went to my doctor the next day, was examined (large + drawer sign) and immediately got an MRI. My ACL was completely severed, and the medial AND lateral menisci were torn. Wow, I had "blown it out"!  My primary care doctor offered me an orthopedic consult and physical therapy. But instead of conventional care, this time I used the Feldenkrais Method exclusively to heal my knee pain. After several table lessons and an immersion in Awareness through Movement lessons, two weeks later I was walking well and able to gently bike on level ground. Five weeks post injury, I was surfing. Yep, and without pain or fear of instability.

My last MRI was in 2010 after a minor skiing incident. The MRI showed that all the injuries I sustained during my skateboard accident were still present and accounted for. In fact, my MRI so confounds my surgeon given my age, activity level, and observable images of injuries, that "colorful" is the only word that comes out his mouth when he reviews it. But no new changes this time; yea!

Now it is 2017, many years post-injury. My knee remains functional and pain free!!  I still surf, play golf, and play just about anything I want. No, I do not jog. Why? Because it hurts: my body doesn't like it, so I just don't use jogging for my aerobic activity!! I do other things. My standing knee x-rays continue to show an excellent, well-preserved joint space, with a few arthritic changes.  And that's why I got into Feldenkrais...it is the most empowering decision I have ever made.