MOVEMENT: Friends and professional colleagues since their graduation day, and now senior Feldenkrais practitioners, Penelope Jones and Kim Wise are joining forces on July 27 for a special Coffs Harbour workshop on treating chronic pain.
MOVEMENT: Friends and professional colleagues since their graduation day, and now senior Feldenkrais practitioners, Penelope Jones and Kim Wise are joining forces on July 27 for a special Coffs Harbour workshop on treating chronic pain.

Brain retraining resolves pain

PAIN takes over your life and pushes everything else into the background.

If you are hurting, nothing else matters and physiotherapist, Feldenkrais practitioner and movement intelligence teacher Kim Wise knows exactly how that feels.

The health professional who rebuilt her own body to live pain-free after two different serious accidents will impart the secrets of that success during a four-hour workshop in Coffs Harbour on Sunday, July 27.

The comprehensive workshop costs $55 a person, subsidised by the Australian Feldenkrais Guild as part of its support for National Pain Week 2014.

National Pain Week runs from July 21-27.

Ms Wise has also invited doctor Penelope Jones to take part in the workshop, which will focus on chronic pain where conventional therapies do not work.

Dr Jones, a Sydney University lecturer in the faculty of dentistry as well as a Feldenkrais practitioner and meditation teacher, specialises in working posture for the dental profession and other workers and the prevention of back injuries.

In 1974 Ms Wise, just 19, and in her final year of university study, had her spine fractured in eight places.

She spent the next nine years in a steel brace, desperately searching for answers to her pain and disability.

"I was an active country girl and I was so frustrated because of the debilitating pain and functional limitations; it got so bad I wanted to commit suicide," Ms Wise said.

"I saw a plethora of therapists, including a physiotherapist who had treated the Queen, as well as neurologists, orthopaedic surgeons, chiropractors and osteopaths.

"I was advised I would need five major operations and any surgery had only a 50-50 chance of success.

"Dr Nikolai Bogduk, now a world-renowned back pain specialist, advised me against surgery - if I could manage my problem."

At the end of her tether, feeling there was no hope anywhere and already suffering from a degree of paralysis, a friend from university introduced Ms Wise to the Feldenkrais method, after the first workshop held in Australia.

Scientist, engineer and charismatic teacher Dr Moshe Feldenkrais has become famous for his ground-breaking work showing that the brain can re-train itself and re-train the body (neuroplasticity), using gentle, repetitive pain-free movements to help the body restore itself to health.

Ms Wise began doing Feldenkrais movements on her own, using audiotapes from the USA, as there were no Feldenkrais teachers in Australia at that time.

Kim still recalls the day that she woke free from pain for the first time.

Within four years she was moving relatively freely without her back brace and began the professional Feldenkrais practitioner training program.

Four years later she was doing acrobatics.

The young health professional delighted in showing off her restored physical abilities.

"I was doing backflips from head stands and I would often do them in the waiting room," Ms Wise said.

She went on to build a two-storey mud-brick house, raise two children, run a farm and establish a flourishing health practice with eight staff members in Coffs Harbour, the Wise Health and Fitness Education Centre.

All that came to a halt in 1994 when she suffered a serious injury on the farm which damaged her neck.

Lucky to escape death, she was forced into early retirement, but once again used Feldenkrais treatment to deal with her injury and was eventually able to resume work and become pain-free.

Today she runs private clinics at Coffs Harbour and Upper Orara and conducts Awareness through Movement exercise classes three times a week for people of all ages.

"Pain management is a cornerstone of health," Ms Wise said.

"So many people suffer chronic pain, the cost to the health system runs into billions and that is growing exponentially."

"But if you learn to move differently, everything changes and the pain goes away."

She has now been treating patients and teaching the Feldenkrais method for more than 30 years and has clients from all walks of life to include farmers with bad backs and post-surgical patients to severely handicapped children and from elderly women with osteoporosis to runners and bushwalkers.

Ms Wise was also a major contributor to a submission written on behalf of her professional association AFG Inc. Excerpts from that submission became the basis of The Feldenkrais Method in the Management of Chronic Pain which was the Australian Feldenkrais Guild's submission to the 2010 National Pain Summit.

The submission, with other case studies and testimonials, is available on the website of the Australian Feldenkrais Guild,


  • Drug Free Pain Relief - managing chronic pain using the Feldenkrais Method
  • $55 per person, four-hour workshop, 9am-12.30pm, Sunday, July 27, Cavanbah Centre, Harbour Dr, Coffs Harbour, Rooms A-B, registration 8.45am.
  • The workshop will include a PowerPoint presentation, talk on anatomy, morning tea, handouts, an actual Awareness through Movement lesson and a demonstration of a short Functional Integration (hands-on) lesson.
  • The workshop is open to all interested people, but numbers are strictly limited.
  • Bookings kwise@ or phone 6653 8493 or 0427 538 493.

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