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.
It is a real problem when we hold ourselves up in ways contradictory to the functioning of our human design. Commands such as "sit up straight!", "head up!", "tummy in, shoulders down!", or "don't slump!" only bring new misery and pain: A hyper-extended lower back, a tense neck, stiff shoulders, shallow breath, increased anxiety and stress. All that new effort will quickly be followed by structural collapse and increased tension.
We need to become conscious of our individual movement habits so that we can change them. We need to learn how to move in harmony with gravity, how to cultivate an adaptable and well-jointed physical structure, so our posture does not produce pain. That is what you will learn in the Alexander coaching process: how to become spacious, aware and calm, being at ease, mentally and physically, from the ground up.
A person in balance feels light and energetic, free of pain and excess tension. Because all parts of the body are encouraged to relate in a subtle and free relationship to each other, lengthening in statue and widening across the body again allows to produce a happy and dynamic posture in which optimum breath and movement is possible. Free breath is life and a palpable experience of Alexander Technique.
Chronic Pain Pain as a Vicious Cycle
While back pain can also have emotional roots and sometimes is the result of an acute injury, it is most likely that the body is operated in a way incompatible with the way the spine works, and with our general upright human design.
When gripped by pain, it is natural to tighten and hold on to the area of pain in an attempt to protect it. Inaddition, fear plays a crucial part in the experience of pain. Unfortunately this muscle gripping further interferes with optimal functioning of the spine by cutting off nourishment and communication.
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 better 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, to strong unresolved emotions, to the effect of a compressing musculoskeletal frame due to habitual tensing (postural stress), or a mix of the above.
The Grip Of Stress Regular Pause & Reflection
Stress and tension are common precursors to many dis-eases. Stress is epidemic, and stress cannot be avoided. The good news is that we can learn to handle ourselves more skillfully and with more care in stressful situations. Consistently high levels of unmanaged stress can keep the body in fight/flight/freeze mode, signaling the constant release of stress hormones like a ongoing, low-level fever.
This state narrows and squeezes the body, making breathing shallow and difficult as well as clouding our senses. It limits the flow of blood and oxygen to the parts of the brain and body which are responsible for relaxation, revitalization, healing and growth.
Alexander work helps us become aware of and control our over-reactive nature to stimuli. We become able to prevent tense muscles and a tense mind. We can return to our creative brain, into our body, and out of "autopilot" reactions to life. Sharpened senses and clarity of thinking will start to loosen the grip of daily stress, and replace the old tendencies of slumping, stiffening and tensing. We can return to more relaxed and engaged states of being.
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.