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 firstname.lastname@example.org.