The human body works global, never as independent parts. This is an important understanding in the quest for health and pain free movement. We need to look at posture not as a static thing to achieve, to perfect and to keep, but as a dynamic behavior adaptable to the task at hand.
The problem is that we tend to hold ourselves up in ways which directly contradict the workings of our human design. Commands such as "Sit up straight!", "Head up!", or "Don't slump!" only bring us new misery and pain: a hyper-extended lower back, a tense neck, stiff shoulders, shallow breath. All that new effort will quickly be followed by a new collapse. What to do?
We need to make our postural behavior conscious! We need to learn how to live in balance with gravity, so our posture does not produce pain. We need to know how to be adaptable in movement.
Being in balance is having natural poise and allowing for pain-free movement. A person in balance is erect and looks at ease. A person in balance feels light and energetic, and is free of pain.
Balance is possible when the entire body operates as a whole, meaning all parts relate in a subtle and free relationship to each other, allowing lengthening in statue and widening across the body to produce a posture in which optimum breathing is possible. This is the learning experience the Alexander Technique provides.
Chronic Pain Management
Pain as a Vicious Cycle.
If you are suffering from recurring pain, and if you pay attention, you might more often than not find yourself in a slouch, possible straining and tensing in order to "sit and stand up straight", in an effort to "be in a better place".
You might be surprised, but there is a direct connection between your postural behavior and how you feel in your body. While back pain can definitely have emotional roots and sometimes is the result of an acute injury, it is most likely that the body is used in a way incompatible with the way the spine works, and with our general upright human design.
When there is pain, we tend to tighten and hold on to the area of pain, often in an attempt to protect it. Unfortunately this muscle gripping further interferes with optimal functioning of the spine. Because the spine always acts as a whole, tensing one part of it will negatively affect all other parts, particularly the delicate head-neck balance. A correct and adaptable head-neck-spine balance is crucial to spinal and muscular well-being and is one of the main skills learned in Alexander lessons.
Lessons in the Alexander Technique will help you learn about and understand the cause of your chronic pain. It is important to be able to tell if your pain is due to an old or acute injury or rather the effect of a compressing musculoskeletal frame due to habitual tensing (postural stress).
Highlights: Almost 600 people with chronic and recurrent back pain were randomized to receive massage, six Alexander Technique lessons, 24 Alexander Technique lessons, or no intervention. In addition, half of the subjects were encouraged to walk regularly. A year later, the group with no intervention had 21 days of pain per month. The group with massage had 14 days of pain per month. The group with 6 Alexander Technique lessons reported 11 days of pain per month, and the group with 24 Alexander Technique lessons reported three days of pain per month. There were no adverse effects. It was clear that the results of Alexander lessons were superb and lasting.