In The Zone

Dec 5, 2022 | Newsletter

“…self-knowledge through awareness is the goal of reeducation.” — Moshe Feldenkrais

When working with clients, I use the Zone of Homeostasis diagram, also known as the Envelope of Function. I learned it from an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Scott Forsyth Dye, who developed this concept to gauge the health of the knee joint. Still, it applies to all the structures of the musculoskeletal system.

This graph, in combination with feedback from a client and my observations, helps me decide what lesson, exercise program, and treatment plan will benefit the person the most.

You, too, can use this fantastic tool along with your practice of the Feldenkrais Method.

The chart registers the load or stress – the intensity and frequency of a strain applied to our system (body and mind). The upper line (in red) represents the intensity or cumulative frequency of the stressor – that a joint, muscle, tendon, disc, or bone can physiologically withstand before a structural failure. Basically, how much strain can you take before something breaks?

Living in the Happy Zone of Homeostasis
The goal is to engage in activities that keep your musculoskeletal system in a state of homeostasis – your “comfort zone.” Occasionally, in a controlled way, visiting the orange zone of overuse is OK. But try to prevent those activities that cause excessive load leading to structural failure, i.e., injury, tissue, or joint degeneration. 
You can reduce overuse by paying attention to the signals from your body – pain, stiffness, swelling, numbness, fatigue – and adjusting your course. Your practice of the Feldenkrais Method helps you fine-tune your ability to sense and feel these signals. 

What about Pushing the Envelope?
The zone of overuse and the zone of underuse aren’t to be avoided entirely or feared. You need to go into the zone of overuse to strengthen your bones, tendons, and muscles and to bring your performance to a higher level. You just don’t want to live there, though. The same with the zone of disuse or rest. Adequate rest is necessary to prevent injury and help you recover. But too much rest leads to atrophy and should be avoided even when recovering from an injury. 

Homeostasis Is Not StaticA homeostasis is a balancing act. It is a dynamic and ever-changing state depending on factors like your overall health, age, emotional and psychological stress, fitness level, diet quality, sleep, hydration, and even satisfaction from work and relationships. It can change even from day to day, from moment to moment. 

How to Navigate such a Balancing Act?
Daily journaling helps keep track of your progress, responses, and, generally, how you feel. Having a training buddy, a coach, or a teacher can help avoid adding too much strain too soon. But the most essential thing is cultivating and training your self-awareness. 
The recipe for success lies in your ability to: 
Pay attention
Perceive and correctly interpret the signs from inside your body and mind
Act appropriately

How do you train that? 
Please lie on your back, close your eyes and notice how you lie on the mat.See you in the next Feldenkrais lesson. 
Here’s to charting your course for smoother sailing.
Onward and Upward, 
Marek Wyszynski, PT, GCFP
& The Feldenkrais NYC Team

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