Monthly Archives: March 2016

Understanding your pattern

The way in which you organise your movement affects how you move and consequently how you feel.

I can look at you doing a simple activity and see many clues about how you are organising your movement. This provides an opportunity to a) understand if the movements that you make are disadvantaging you and b) to do something about it if your movements are contributing to poor outcomes.

Movements that result in imbalance, over-tension, downward pressure from muscles pulling the torso onto itself can be significant contributors to poor health, poor performance and incidence of pain. This poor movement can affect breathing, digestion, vocalisation, blood flow, limb movement and functioning, joint health, muscle tension and even psychological well-being.

Alexander Technique offers a strategy to organise all our movement around the support of the spine. When human movement is organised around a lengthening spine it automatically leads to efficiency gains in energy use, balance of body weight, mobility of joints and quality of movement. Some scientists have measured these improvements in studies but most people experience these improvements through their subjective experience in an Alexander lesson.

These movement gains are desirable for sports people, important for performers, very important for musicians and crucial for pain sufferers and people rehabilitating from injury.

FM Alexander made many discoveries around how human beings organise their movement. One observation that he made was of a very useful pattern of organisation which involves how the weight of the head is balanced on the length of the spine.

Your Alexander teacher can demonstrate this pattern to you and speak to you about it. This primary observation around organisation of movement has led to the development of a reliable way to undo movement patterns that are counter-productive and constraining and to put in their place a new way to move that is easy, supported and facilitating.

Eminent scientist George Coghill was surprised that Alexander was teaching the organisation of human movement around a lengthening spine as it reflected similar observations that Coghill had made about vertebrate movement. Among other things, Coghill speculated that vertebrate movement is not random rather it is organised around the spine.

Alexander’s discovery of the organisation of human movement around a lengthening spine has come to be described as “The primary control for the coordination of human movement”. ¬†This important idea of primary control is only one element of the observations made by FM Alexander that make up his Technique albeit an important one.

A first step for many people wishing to make improvement is to be assisted by an Alexander Technique teacher to learn how to  discriminate when you are organising your movement well from when you are organising your movement poorly. This important discrimination skill will lead you towards healthier movement options in your activities.