Alexander Technique for back pain. Back Pain management top 3 tips.
The secret that thousands of people around the world know, is that you can manage back pain by learning Alexander Technique. If you have pains in your back, legs arms and neck that won’t go away, you are not alone. Over 4 million people in Australia or (16% of the population)reported that they experienced back pain. Pain at least “moderately” interfered with daily activities for almost 2 in 5 (38%) people with back problems in 2017–18. 1
If you’re suffering with back pain that stops you doing what you need to do, then perhaps, do you need to hear about the Alexander Technique? Alexander Technique is Health Education. It has been taught for over 120 years. It is consistently recognised as an effective method for managing chronic back conditions. When all the skills of the Technique are applied by students, a large percentage consistently report reduction in pain.2
If you are struggling to make the bed, tie your shoes, sit and stand-you need to know about the Alexander Technique. Here are 3 top tips from Alexander Technique that can help you begin to resolve your back pain.
“Omg my back just aches and aches and aches, just want it to just stop aching ” Back pain sufferer
Tip 1 Back Pain? Try the ‘Rescue position”.
Here’s a photo of Jane doing an Alexander Technique procedure called the ‘semi-supine’. Some people call this the ‘Rescue Position’. It’s called the Rescue Position for good reason. If you suffer from back pain, this procedure quickly gives your body an opportunity to reduce pain and rebalance. Many students of the Alexander Technique swear by the semi-supine as a way to reduce and manage chronic pain. It’s so simple that it’s ridiculous and yet, it’s a highly effective strategy. It’s our Number 1 tip. Do the semi-supine.
You’ll need to find a carpeted floor or use a yoga mat on a hard surfaced floor. A bed is too soft for this procedure. Don’t use a bed. You may have trouble getting up and down. If that’s the case, have a good upright chair close by that you can use to assist getting down and then up. Jane is using a Backsaver. It’s a hard cushion with a wooden base to place under her head for support. I recommend that, if you don’t have a Backsaver, that you use some paperback books to place under your head for support. It’s not unusual to have some discomfort doing this procedure, at first. Your back may feel achy and may even click. After a few moments of lying, your back should begin to ease. If that’s not the case and you are very uncomfortable, cease the procedure.
Lie on a carpeted floor for 10-15 minutes with your knees up. If you find that hard or painful you can rest your calves on a chair. Have some paperback books under your head supporting its weight. Fold your arms so that your hands sit on your torso. Just by lying on a firm surface you are giving your injury area time to heal and rest. It’s important to get back up to standing, safely and with support. Use a chair to help you get up.
For more instruction and information watch this short video on the semi supine procedure from my colleague Carolyn Nicholls. If you come for Alexander lessons, one of the first things that I will show you is how to do this procedure. Simple but very effective.
Tip 2. Bend correctly to avoid back pain grief
“I can’t walk or stand all day but also can’t sit all day.”
Where do you bend from in your body? If you are pointing at or thinking of a place around your belt line then you are probably bending incorrectly. It’s a big problem. Many people think that they bend from their waist. No. There is no bending joint at the waist. Keep bending there and it will keep hurting you. Tip number 2 is “Find your hip joints.”
Find a chair and sit on it. Stick your hand under your bottom and you should feel a big bone on each side.That bone is called the sit bone (ischial tuberosity). Even if you have a big bottom, you can still feel those bones. For some people, the sit bones are a big discovery. They’re called sit bones because they are great to sit on. See the second drawing. The sit bones are represented by the green section.
Now you may not be sitting on your sit bones. You could be curling down onto the tail bone. May I suggest you try, as an experiment, sitting on your sit bones? Keep your feet on the ground. Now rock forward on your sit bones with your whole spine going with that motion. Doing that movement involves your whole body rotating around the hip joint. Can you feel how your pelvis rocks around your thigh bones? That’s where your hip joints are. Does this help with back pain? Yes, using your hip joints rather than your spine to bend ensures you won’t hurt yourself bending forward.
Congratulations, you’ve found your hip joint. Using your hip joint, rather than your waist, takes a great deal of pressure off from your lower spine. If you had trouble with that experiment, time to see an Alexander Technique teacher. They can help you recover your hip joints and relive low back pain.
Tip 3 Organise your movement
Many people suffering with back pain move in a way that could be improved. Movement is a strong function of our human embodiment. Surprisingly, many of us don’t give our movement much thought. What if there were constructive ways of movement and destructive ways of movement. Wouldn’t you want to move constructively? Alexander Technique teaches you to be aware of movement and to move with your natural design, instead of against it. With every movement that you do you’ll find an opportunity for improvement. You can organise your movements a little differently for great improvement. This is one of the discoveries that FM Alexander made.
Some people organise their movement around what it is that they are doing. So if you’re stirring a pot, you organise around the wooden spoon. If your opening a door, you organise around the door knob. If your sweeping the floor you organise around the broom. When you look at yourself and others organising around their activity quite often you will see people pulling very strange and uncomfortable shapes with their body. The pot stirrer is pulling their neck down into the bowl and pushing their shoulder up. The door opener is pulling their head down towards the hand on the doorknob and the sweeper is making their upper back go into a c-shape around the broom.
All of those movements are likely to exacerbate an existing injury.
Alexander Technique teaches one little skill that changes all of that. Rather than organising movement around an object, you are taught to organise your movement around your gently lengthening spine. The instructions that you learn get you to lead movements with a slight forward tilt of your head and your whole torso following. This subtle change to the way you organise your movement seems to have significant and cascading benefits not only to the quality of movement that you experience but also to comfort levels. Consider the way you move and you may discover the key to preventing continual exacerbation of back, neck, arm and leg injury. Try an Alexander style experiment, but remember that Alexander movement is always delicate, finely accurate and thoughtful.
It’s not practical to describe all the skills that Alexander Technique teaches pupils. Having lessons provides sensory information about movement that when put together with verbal instruction creates an entirely new understanding and an entirely new model of how our movement works.
Think about these three top tips for managing back pain and try them out. Like thousands of people before you, you may find these tips provide some positive help to managing your chronic back pain condition.