Smorgasbord Health Column – Alternative Healing – The Alexander Technique – Part Two – #Posture, #Backpain #Ergonomics by Sally Cronin


On Monday I began this series on posture, flexibility and improving back, neck pain and headaches with a background to the Alexander Technique and a link for you to check on your body’s age in relation to Flexibility

The Alexander Technique.

The originator of this technique is Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor, who found that his career began to falter as he lost his voice on stage. He consulted doctors but they could find neither the cause nor the cure for the problem. Having developed a technique to correct his own posture and that resulted in the return of his voice… Alexander went on to teach his method in the UK and America to dancers, actors and singers.

It is not just performers who can benefit from this technique as most of us today are either in jobs that force our bodies into unnatural contortions, or we are sitting at a desk writing for many hours of the day!

Alexander’s first step was to stand in front of the mirror and observe his body and posture. The truth is that none of us are completely symmetrical. Over time, with bad sitting and standing posture, we can become even more out of line.

From a personal perspective

For me adopting the techniques is more of a philosophy that aligns with my passion for natural fresh foods and their essential nourishment for the body. Our bodies are under constant stress on a daily basis and without a strong core, and an aligned skeletal and muscular structure, we will suffer pain and debilitating health issues.

Unlike many forms of exercise that you might take up and then drop as you get older, the Alexander Technique is one that you need to adopt for life and continue to practice consistently. As the techniques become ingrained you will find that both your posture and ease of movement will reflect that consistency throughout your lifetime.

Identifying problem areas

Stand naturally in front of a full length mirror – if being in your underwear only is too distracting, then wear something that is form fitting so that you can see the outline of your body.

  • Relax your arms by your side, feet slightly apart, as straight as you can with your head looking directly forward.
  • See if you can detect where perhaps your shoulder dips on one side and your fingertips appear to be slightly further down your leg than the other side.
  • Is one knee slightly more turned in that the other.
  • Perhaps you notice that you having to make an effort to stand straight and that the top of your back feels uncomfortable.
  • Is there a slight slouch to one side or the other.

If you have one knee in particular that is painful, it is likely that for years you have been favouring  that knee over the other one.

For example, the knee that you use to get out of your driver’s side in the car! Over the years, that consistent and repetitive motion has worn down more of the cartilage in that knee than the other. The resulting pain makes you walk slightly lop-sided and you are then causing more distortion to your spine and shoulders.

Checking for possible problem areas

Whilst you can check for the following postural issues by yourself, by stepping back as far as possible from the mirror and then walking slowly forwards watching your movements carefully, it is even better is to enlist the help of someone else to help you spot problem areas.

  • Find somewhere flat, probably outside and ask someone to stand 20 to 30 feet in front of you and then walk as you would normally towards them.
  • Get them to identify if you are walking with your knees, and feet straight in front of you or splayed.
  • Also differences between your right and left sides.
  • Then repeat the exercise making an effort to keep your back straight, your shoulders slightly back, neck and head level and facing forward. Knees and feet facing forwards.
  • Both of you can then compare where you consider you are suffering from both posture and walking issues that could lead to some form of wear and tear on the joints.

Consistently bad posture when sitting, standing and walking results in damage to key points in the spine. This can lead to stiff shoulders and neck, leading to headaches.

In the next post I will be sharing some of the techniques that were developed by Alexander and include some of the videos available on the method, as it is much easier to show rather than tell.

In the meantime if you are reading this at your desk, or scrunched up on the sofa with your laptop, you might want to take a look at your posture. Could you be causing damage to your spine and causing repetitive strain injury.  Since most of you are also writers, using a keyboard, this following video shows you how you should be working in relation to your chair and computer.

Next Monday some of the Alexander Techniques to help you straighten up!  Thanks for dropping by.

©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2020

Your feedback is always welcome and if you do find that following any of the posts that I have shared are beneficial then it would be great to hear about it. If you have any questions you can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Alternative Therapies – The Alexander Technique – Part Three – Standing, Sitting and Walking Correctly.


If you missed the previous two posts in the series here they are:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/smorgasbord-health-columns-alternative-healing-therapies-the-alexander-technique-part-one-backpain-headaches-posture/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/05/smorgasbord-health-column-alternative-healing-the-alexander-technique-part-two-posture-backpain-ergonomics/

Just a reminder of some of the back pain statistics in the UK alone… if you take a look at your own country’s data, you will find that there is the same kind of numbers.

Back pain statistics in the UKThe Norfolk Clinic

  • The condition affects people in all age groups but the over-50s are worst hit
  • Almost 10 million Britons suffer pain almost daily resulting in a major impact on their quality of life and more days off work
  • Up to 28 million Britons are living with chronic pain, new estimates suggest
  • Around 5.6 million working days in the UK are lost each year due to back pain, second only to stress,
  • Around 4.2 million working days were lost by workers aged 50-64 alone in 2014
  • Health experts say chronic back pain is made worse by our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, with the average Briton spending almost four hours a day at a computer

Apart from the pain and stress to the sufferer there is also the fact that it is also one of the leading causes of painkiller addiction. Especially as most painkillers are ineffective.

The best way to use the Alexander Technique is under the guidance of a qualified teacher on a one to one basis. They can assess your postural problem areas effectively and guide you into the correct way to sit, stand and walk to minimise your pain and improve your mobility.

Here is a very useful link which will show you where your nearest Alexander Technique Teacher can be found worldwide: https://alexandertechnique.co.uk/searchgeo

You can help yourself and I am just going to talk you through some sitting and standing techniques to help improve your posture. And I have also found some videos that might be helpful.

Bad Habits.

It is so easy to slip into a bad habits and before you know it you are sitting, standing and walking incorrectly as your normal fall back position. It does mean that it can be difficult to encourage your muscles to return to the correct position as it can cause discomfort initially.

In the post I recommended that you walked towards a mirror and noted areas of the body that appeared to be out of kilter… Such as an foot turned outwards or a slouch. The same applies to sitting and standing where you can observe your now natural posture, and where you need to adjust your frame.

Walking

After walking towards the mirror as you would usually, and noting where you are out of alignment, you can now make small adjustments.

Aim to keep the balance of your head on top of the spine, looking straight ahead and with your shoulders relaxed. As you walk towards the mirror focus on transferring your weight onto alternate feet pointed forwards.  Practice several times a day until this becomes your new natural way of walking. There might be some initial discomfort as muscles relearn their purpose but after a few weeks, you should notice that your original pain has improved.

Sitting

There are certain habits that cause pain and constricted breathing. If you habitually sit with your legs crossed then you will twist your pelvis and lower spine. If you desk and chair are not properly aligned you will find that your head is down, stretching the muscles in the back of the neck unnaturally for several hours a day, leading to pain in that area, but also into the shoulders and causing headaches.

If you are slouched forward over the desk you will be compressing the stomach and diaphragm resulting in restricted breathing, less oxygen into the system and headaches and fatigue. It is also not natural to sit ramrod straight for several hours at a time as that too can cause a curve that stresses the muscles each side of the spine.

Bend forward from the hips if you are writing at a desk rather than slouch and make sure that the arm you are using to write, or both to type are not tensed in any way.

Aim to sit with your head balanced comfortably at the top of your spine and if you are using a computer looking straight ahead at the screen so that you can type and read without putting your head in a downward or upward position. Keep your shoulders relaxed.

Sit with your knees slightly apart and both feet firmly on the ground also slightly apart.

Getting in and out of a chair.

Again it is important to use a mirror to identify how you are sitting and standing up from a chair. It is an action that we will repeat many times during each day and if you continually abuse certain muscles it will lead to pain.

For example – watch to see if you throw your head back when you sit down, and stick your bottom out resulting in an arch to your lower spine.

Or when you stand up, are you jutting your head forwards and up, folding your body and then straightening up?

Aim to keep your neck and spine in alignment and bend at the hip, knees and ankles as you stand. Imagine that you are going into a squat position as you sit down and stand.

Here are three videos on the technique.. I suggest that you browse through the many on YouTube to find those that might address your own personal areas of concern.

An Introduction – Roads To Bliss

Sitting at your computer Adrian Farrell

Walking Bill Connington

I hope you have found this useful and that you will explore this amazing technique further. Thanks Sally

©sallycronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook fromhttp://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Health Column – Alternative Healing – The Alexander Technique – Part Two – #Posture, #Backpain #Ergonomics


Last week I did an introduction to the Alexander Technique, which I have found very useful over many years.

Here is a link to the post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/smorgasbord-health-columns-alternative-healing-therapies-the-alexander-technique-part-one-backpain-headaches-posture/

The Alexander Technique.

The originator of this technique is Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor, who found that his career began to falter as he lost his voice on stage. He consulted doctors but they could find neither the cause nor the cure for the problem. Having developed a technique to correct his own posture and that resulted in the return of his voice… Alexander went on to teach his method in the UK and America to dancers, actors and singers.

It is not just performers who can benefit from this technique as most of us today are either in jobs that force our bodies into unnatural contortions, or we are sitting at a desk writing for many hours of the day!

Alexander’s first step was to stand in front of the mirror and observe his body and posture. The truth is that none of us are completely symmetrical. Over time, with bad sitting and standing posture, we can become even more out of line.

Identifying problem areas

Stand naturally in front of a full length mirror – if being in your underwear only is too distracting then where something that is form fitting so that you can see the outline of your body. Relax your arms by your side, feet slightly apart, as straight as you can with your head looking directly forward.

See if you can detect where perhaps your shoulder dips on one side and your fingertips appear to be slightly further down your leg than the other side. Is one knee slightly more turned in that the other. Perhaps you notice that you having to make an effort to stand straight and that the top of your back feels uncomfortable. Is there a slight slouch to one side or the other.

If you have one knee in particular that is painful, it is likely that for years you have been favouring  that knee over the other one. For example, the knee that you use to get out of your driver’s side in the car! Over the years, that consistent and repetitive motion has worn down more of the cartilage in that knee than the other. The resulting pain makes you walk slightly lop-sided and you are then causing more distortion to your spine and shoulders.

If you can step back as far from the mirror as you can and then walk naturally forward at a reasonable pace. If you don’t have enough room the find somewhere flat, probably outside and ask someone to stand 20 to 30 feet in front of you and then walk as you would normally towards them.

Get them to identify if you are walking with your knees, and feet straight in front of you or splayed. Also differences between your right and left sides. Then repeat the exercise making an effort to keep your back straight, your shoulders slightly back, neck and head level and facing forward. Knees and feet facing forwards. Both of you can then compare where you consider you are suffering from both posture and walking issues that could lead to some form of wear and tear on the joints.

Consistently bad posture when sitting, standing and walking results in damage to key points in the spine. This can lead to stiff shoulders and neck, leading to headaches.

In the next post I will be sharing some of the techniques that were developed by Alexander and include some of the videos available on the method, as it is much easier to show rather than tell.

In the meantime if you are reading this at your desk, or scrunched up on the sofa with your laptop, you might want to take a look at your posture. Could you be causing damage to your spine and causing repetitive strain injury.  Since most of you are also writers, using a keyboard, this following video shows you how you should be working in relation to your chair and computer.

Next time some of the Alexander Techniques to help you straighten up!  Thanks for dropping by.

©sallycronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook fromhttp://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally