Background: Falls and fall-related injuries are a major public health concern, a financial challenge for health care providers, and critical issues for older adults. Poor balance and limited mobility are major risk factors for falls.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine effects of Feldenkrais exercises in improving balance, mobility, and balance confidence in older adults.
Methods: Participants (N = 47, mean age 75.6) were randomly assigned to a Feldenkrais group (FG, n = 25) or to a control group (CG, n = 22). The FG group attended a 5-week Feldenkrais program, 60 minutes three times per week, while the CG group was a waitlist control. The outcome measures were balance (tandem stance), mobility (Timed Up and Go), gait characteristics (GAITRite Walkway System), balance confidence (Balance Confidence Scale; ABC), and fear of falling (Falls Efficacy Scale). Pre- and post-tests were conducted.
Results: After completion of the program, balance (p = 0.030) and mobility (p = 0.042) increased while fear of falling (p = 0.042) decreased significantly for the FG group. No other significant changes were observed. However, participants of the FG group showed improvements in balance confidence (p = 0.054) and mobility while performing concurrently a cognitive task (p = 0.067).
Conclusions: These results indicate that Feldenkrais exercises are an effective way to improve balance and mobility, and thus offer an alternative method to help offset age-related declines in mobility and reduce the risk of falling among community-dwelling older adults. A long-term follow-up study of balance and mobility is warranted. Further research is needed to identify whether Feldenkrais exercises may impact cognitive processes.