University of East London Wellness Day 18 November
As I Say to My Pupils – ‘Pain Can be a Good Teacher’
Study: Can the Alexander Technique Improve Balance and Mobility in Older Adults with Visual Impairments?
Women’s bodies go through dramatic changes during pregnancy and, as the NHS Choices website states, many women experience back pain, particularly during the last weeks of pregnancy. As the baby grows, the woman’s ligaments become more stretchy and the extra weight of the baby tends to drop forwards and down, tilting the pelvis, so that the pregnant mother often loses the length and strength in her lower back, increasing the lordosis and compressing the lumbar vertebrae. This extra tilting of the pelvis can also contribute to pain in the pelvic area, as in Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD).
The Lancet has just published the results of a research trial that took place in Australia, which looked at the efficacy of prescribing paracetamol for people with acute lower back pain (24 July 2014). This research was a randomised, controlled trial with over 500 subjects in each group, taken from primary care centres in Sydney and the results show that paracetamol is no more help than taking a placebo at aiding recovery from acute lower back pain!
After the Work – Enjoy your Garden
the help of Irene Tasker, a Montessori and AT teacher and the children were given Alexander Technique lessons alongside ordinary schoolwork, so that they were taught how to be aware of their psychophysical functioning – that is, their thinking and body use – throughout their school day. Unfortunately the second World War interrupted the work of this school and it was not able to be re-started after the war ended. Today, a number of schools incorporate the Technique into the curriculum to great effect, as do music and drama colleges.
- Back Pain
- Mood swings
- Repetitive Strain Injuries
The Health Hazards of Sitting
People who sit more are at greater risk for herniated lumbar discs. A muscle called the psoas travels through the abdominal cavity and, when
it tightens, pulls the upper lumbar spine forward. Upper-body weight rests
entirely on the ischeal tuberosity (sitting bones) instead of being distributed
along the arch of the spine.
But we do need to sit on our sitting bones! The main illustration in the article, of the slumped woman, does show too much weight going through the rear part of the sitting bones, which is not helpful and would be likely to cause lumbar back pain. However, if the pelvis were realigned to be more upright, the weight could be distributed through the spine, then transferred through the pelvis and into the central part of the sitting bones, or into the legs if standing.
Strangely, the illustrations showing people the ‘correct’ way to sit and stand, omit showing the pelvis and sitting bones altogether, so the person appears to be finely balanced on thin air and the tiny coccyx.
“There’s No Such Thing As A Right Position” FM Alexander
It is so easy to fall into wanting a quick fix and assume that standing or sitting up straight for sensible amounts of time and then taking exercise, will solve all problems. Well, while this strategy may help a bit, it’s quite possible to sit and stand in a rigid manner, for instance, which can build up tensions, restrict our breathing and may lead to other problems in the future. Stiffening like this is tiring and people usually can’t keep it up for long.
As Alexander himself put it when teaching:
“I am putting into gear the muscles that hold you up, and you are putting them out of gear and then making a tremendous effort to hold yourself up, with the result that, when you cease that effort, you slump down worse than ever”. (FM Alexander Aphorisms)
So it is not just about the positions we sit and stand in, but the manner in which we use our bodies during our activities that makes the biggest difference of all. We can learn to be aware of our body use, gradually putting our muscles ‘into gear’ so we find an easier and more balanced way of sitting and moving around that enhances, not damages, our health.
Everyday Activities:- Pulling a Case or Trolley
- Do I hold the luggage handle at the right height for me?
- Do I twist my torso as I drag the luggage behind me?
- Do I pull down on one side of my body?
- Do I rush through stations and airports tensely, carelessly, or with awareness?
- Do I grab the luggage, or thoughtfully take hold of it – and how do I lift it?
- Do I remember to stop and think before pulling or lifting something heavy – am I evenly balanced with a lengthened spine when I move or lift?