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


On Friday I covered some of the methods to determine if you have a particular problem area in your posture and they way that you move. Posture, Back Pain and 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.

In a paper published by the World Health Organisation it mentions the number of work days lost in a year due to back problems in the UK alone as over 100 million.  

“Low back pain is the single biggest cause of years lived with disability worldwide, and a major challenge to international health systems. In 2018, the Lancet Low Back Pain Series Working Group identified a global problem of mismanagement of low back pain.WHO

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: Alexander Technique

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 or towards an observer and having noted where you are out of alignment, you can now make small adjustments.

Practice in front of a mirror preferably at the end of a corridor or at least 10 to 12 ft away.

  • 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 your 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.

How to improve you sitting posture

  • 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,
  • Do you 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?

How to improve this simple action.

  • 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 IntroductionRoads 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

©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.