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Alexander Technique and scoliosis

Alexander Technique and scoliosis

 Alexander Technique and scoliosis.

If you have scoliosis, then Alexander Technique can help you by showing you how to reduce tension around your spine; showing you how to harness your body’s natural coordination system; teaching you to work with your body’s design; developing lighness and ease in movement.

Alexander Technique can be a useful complement to conventional treatments for scoliosis. Scoliosis is a condition where your spine has lateral curves that are extra to the normal spinal curves.

There are seven types of scoliosis. The most common type is called Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS).  AIS affects many more adolescent girls than boys. The reason for this is not clear. Common treatments are back bracing and/or surgery.

People with scoliosis have reported how the Alexander Technique has been a helpful way for them to develop a greater awareness, self esteem and an overall empowered sense of their bodies.

The Scoliosis Association of the UK lists the technique as a helpful practice for people with scoliosis. 

Managing scoliosis

Adults with scoliosis ranging from mild to severe can at times experience back pain or discomfort. Alexander Technique can instruct you on how to let go of unnecessary tensions, stiffenings and collapses that you may have patterned. These often have developed as a habit in response to wearing a back brace and may be exacerbating.  Instruction on easy uprightness, natural full breathing and reduction of muscular tension can assist you to be more comfortable in your body. In some cases exaggerated back curves will reduce with improved posture and muscle tone.

Alexander for children developing scoliosis

Where a child is found to have a mild scoliosis or a developing scoliosis, Alexander Technique lessons can show them methods for releasing up off the spinal curve, rather than compressing down onto it. Encouraging easy uprightness and good postural habits will not prevent the scoliosis but may assist the child by:

1. Reducing the amount of compensatory tension and collapse

2. Providing positive strategies for addressing the changes that are occurring

3. Increasing body comfort and self image.

Alexander Technique and bracing

Sometimes, young people have their scoliosis treated with a brace that they wear under their clothes for a prescribed amount of time each day.

Alexander instruction does not conflict with the medical treament of wearing the brace. It does help the person to overcome some of the side effects of wearing a back brace over a long period of time.

The brace holds the torso tightly and is designed to prevent the back curve from worsening.

The young person may develop over-tension in neck, shoulders and legs as a compensation for wearing the brace. The back muscles may weaken and lose tone. Breathing may be constrained because of squeezing around the rib cage and torso.

Alexander Technique can assist the young person, who is using a back brace, to prevent harmful breathing habits from developing and to maintain back muscle tone.  Alexander awareness can assist the brace wearer to minimise the postural impact of the treatment and to maintain easy uprightness when the brace is not being worn.

Have a look at a series of short videos from a scoliosis sufferer Galen Cranz. click here

Alexander Technique lessons can be an important way that people who suffer from AIS or other forms of scoliosis can manage their condition. 

Further reading

The Alexander Technique and scoliosis for children,adolescents and teenagers

Lindsay Newitter blogs about her experience of scoliosis and use of Alexander Technique to assist

Alexander Technique for scoliosis-hope for sufferers, especially parents of children with the condition

Scoliosis and pain reduction using Alexander Technique

 

Alexander Technique and scoliosis

Learn Alexander Technique to manage your scoliosis

Alexander Technique is a useful skill to learn to help in the management of back and/or neck pain. It’s a modest fee and some of your time to change your life. What are you waiting for?

Michael and Jane Shellshear are highly experienced teachers of Alexander Technique. We can help you.

Call on 0448 406881 or click on the button below to  book a time

Send a message to Blue Mountains Alexander Technique

Is Alexander Technique Quackery?

Is Alexander Technique Quackery?

Is Alexander Technique Quackery?

To some people, Alexander Technique is quackery. They think of it as unscientific. They like to demean it and place it into a category of exclusion. Quite often, even though they may be well educated people, they will make this scathing determination without having the least knowledge of Alexander Technique, its history, its practice and its methodology.

Alexander Technique has been taught around the world for over 120 years and has a good reputation for delivering positive outcomes. Is it too good to be true?

How can education be quackery?

The Oxford dictionary says that the term “quackery” relates to medical treatments that make false claims. Alexander Technique is not a treatment, medical or otherwise. It professes no cure. It teaches people to become aware of their movement. How can becoming aware of your movement and posture be quackery?

People expect Alexander Technique to provide cures or treatments. That’s a misunderstanding of Alexander Technique. To then judge Alexander by those misunderstandings is ridiculous. A dietician cannot make you lose weight. A guitar teacher can’t make you play well. A French teacher can’t make you speak French. Similarly, an Alexander teacher cannot make you learn about your movement and posture and then implement that learning.

If you follow the dietician’s advice you might lose weight. If you want to play guitar, a guitar teacher can be very helpful. An Alexander Technique teacher can assist you to move, balance and coordinate in a better more efficient way. The mechanism used is awareness. Alexander Teachnique brings awareness to your movement and posture.  You learn to discriminate between constructive and destructive movements. Then you use your intelligence to choose how to move.

If you lose weight (well done) there may be a secondary benefit. Risk of diabetes reduce, risk of heart disease, breathing will improve. You may even feel better. These benefits are indirect. They are also cascading in that, if you lose that weight many elements of your life may improve one after the other but all at the same time.

This is the same with Alexander Technique. It teaches you to think about movement and posture in different ways. Alexander technique skill assists you to move with less muscular effort, different weight distribution and greater sensory awareness. This occurs through a process of “reafference” where the regulation and interaction of internal feedback and sensory signals for bodily movements are brought into conscious awareness. People respond to this instruction very positively. This isn’t outlandish mumbo jumbo. In fact, there is a great deal of science (see below) that affirms the Alexander approach and the sensible benefits it suggests might be available. Is Alexander Technique quackery? No it is not!

Alexander Technique teachers think that learning Alexander Technique movement skills also has indirect, cascading benefits to health. They do not treat back pain or neck pain or any other ailment. Alexander Technique teaches movement. However, over the years, many people have reported that the more efficient movement that is taught to individuals seems to have an indirect positive influence on many chronic conditions.

An unusual model

FM Alexander (1869-1955) suggested that human functioning was complex. He observed that many human responses involved the coordination of the parts of the body. He observed that the coordination of the parts led to overall effects that were greater than the sum of those parts. He recognised that human movement was fine and nuanced. He saw that the lifting of an arm was not a mere mechanical event but also served to convey meaning, mood, skill and dexterity all at the same time.

He suggested that there was probably an integrated organisational system of movement that allowed for skillful, lively and easy interplay with the world.

He observed that there was evidence of  an organisational system of movement reflected in the relationship of head balance to spinal tone. He suggested that this relationship could be an important  primary element for movement organisation and  that people with difficulty in movement could effect change by working with this relationship.

Research

The indirect influence of improved movement on people’s health and well being has sparked the curiosity of many qualified and interested people. There has been a great deal of research into how and why Alexander Technique movement skills indirectly influence people’s general health.

There are some very interesting studies of Alexander Technique training and its influence on health and well being. click here to see a list of published research

FM Alexander (1869-1955) was keen to explain his method for movement training to medical people. However, he was also very insistent that his technique not be relinquished to the medical profession.

His reason for this antipathy was that he feared that his discoveries about movement would be misunderstood, re-interpreted and consequently, diminished.

Many scholarly articles about Alexander Technique appear to be written by people who have had limited experience of the Alexander Technique. Unfortunately they bring their own filters and bias to their papers.

One such paper published recently started by saying, “The Alexander Technique is a method for the treatment of chronic back pain conditions.”

It isn’t.

Alexander Technique is an educative technique that teaches people to become aware of their movement and posture and to find ways to alter these towards better efficiency. It uses a model that is very similar to modern systems theory and embodied intelligence models. Each model suggests that feedback can be misleading when it is limited or constrained to fixed methods and small samples. Alexander teaches pupils to increase the range and scope of feedback coming from both inside and outside the body.

As already stated, learning about your movement, posture and balance can have secondary indirect benefits-but they are secondary. The focus of Alexander Technique is education about movement, posture and balance. It is not about treatment.

Stupidity

Is Alexander Technique Quackery?  No, definitely not! Some people, who are scathing of Alexander Technique, scream out that, using scientific method (Cochrane method), there is only a moderate amount of proof of the efficacy of Alexander Technique. It’s not quite the same as suggesting quackery, is it.

Articles that suggest skepticism are generally not skeptical, instead they are cynical and have predetermined focus on debunking any process that doesn’t conform to their fixed ideas. These are the same people who debunked Galileo, DaVinci, Newton etc.

Unless you are a large drug company with very large budget, providing proof that meets the Cochrane test is very difficult. Random control double blind trials with very large (thousands) test groups; research less than 5 years old are required. Alexander actually has a number of random controlled double blind studies that were carried out and showed quite positive results but the test groups were only in the hundreds not the thousands.

Other “treatments” (have I made the point that Alexander Technique isn’t a treatment??) that also fail to show efficacy using Cochrane are back surgery, hip and knee replacements, discectomy and a range of other accepted medical practices.

So, do I think that modern surgery is quackery? Of course not. Nor is Alexander Technique.

Does Alexander Technique work?

Does Alexander Technique encourage mindless conditioning, faith in unscientific methods, foolish behaviours, strange rituals? Absolutely not!  In fact, if anything, Alexander Technique teaches people to apply evidence-based thoughtfulness to their movement.  This is why so many professional people, scientists, lawyers, musicians, authors and intellectuals study Alexander Technique and talk positively about its benefits. Learning Alexander Technique is a safe and useful skill that can have multiple benefits for your health and well being.

Alexander technique teachers are trained for three years minimum where they learn functional anatomy, physiology and highly detailed awareness of movement, balance, posture and coordination.  These highly trained individuals, work by a code of conduct, carry out yearly continuing professional development and provide professional training to their clients.

You can rest assured that, by learning Alexander Technique, you will get a new perspective on your movement, posture, coordination and balance. It is hoped that you will also benefit from the secondary cascading benefits of Alexander Technique training but that process is indirect and consequential.

I invite anyone to come to an Introductory presentation on the Alexander Technique. I hold those regularly here at Leura. You will be surprised and delighted that this educative technique can assist you to improve.

Is Alexander Technique quackery?

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Alexander Technique lessons are affordable, immediately useful and informative.

Come to the  beautiful Leura in the Blue Mountains to have lessons with Michael or Jane Shellshear.

 

 

Does Alexander Technique help back pain?

Does Alexander Technique help back pain?

Does Alexander Technique help with back pain?

Yes, Alexander Technique does help with back pain. It is incredibly useful. Many people are able to manage their back pain and lead normal lives. It can help you. The great news is that in most cases, the high quality sensory learning that you complete in an Alexander lesson will give you the skills that you need to overcome back pain. Here’s what you need to know.

What you need to know about back pain

A large percentage of back pain is caused by destructive movement, poor posture and incorrect body mechanics (ie bending at the wrong spots in your body). It’s classed as chronic pain and can last for a few days, weeks, months or sometimes years.

Get your back pain checked out by a medical practitioner. Sometimes back pain can be an indicator of a serious underlying issue. Imaging will give you a good idea of what’s going on and then you can get on with getting over your back pain.

It’s very common for back pain sufferers to be told that there is no visible damage on their x-rays. Although this is good news, it’s also frustrating because the options for understanding and overcoming the back pain become muddied. Pain can come from muscles or nerves, it can be localised or shooting It can range from burning, dull ache to very sharp and electric pain. It is hard for people who aren’t experiencing your pain to understand what you are going through and how it is impacting all areas of your life.

How does Alexander Technique help?

Alexander Technique considers back pain as the result of a whole body habit of posture and movement. To a highly trained eye, the way that you stand, balance and move can provide indicators of conditions that either lead to back pain or exacerbate an already existing issue. Often back pain will involve bracing of the legs, torso and neck. In an Alexander lesson, your teacher will show you ways to circumvent destructive habits that can lead to problem pain. Alexander Technique is primarily a teaching situation, not a treatment. What you learn can resource you to know how to take pressure off your injury site, avoid back pain danger in different situations and relieve pain through simple to follow procedures.

So many people bend at their waist. There’s no bending joint there! It will hurt you if you keep bending at the waist. This is especially so if you add lefting, carrying, pushing or pulling to the mix.  Your Alexander Technique teacher shows you how to bend down to the ground without creating dangerous conditions that contribute to back pain. However, this is not a run-of- the-mill manual handling training. Alexander Technique is practical sensory based learning that demonstrates some of the scope that your body has to move freely and efficiently without pain, strain or danger.

Rescue position for immediate relief from pain

Your Alexander Technique teacher can show you a “rescue position” that you can use daily or even a few times a day.  It works quickly to help you regain a significant reduction in pain.

Alexander technique is an educational technique that you learn. It has a strong basis in science and anatomy but it teaches whole bodymind unity rather than compartmentalising  how humans work.

This means that if you have a bad back, your Alexander teacher will look at the entire range of your movement, posture and balance not just at the area that is in pain.

The Alexander teacher shows you things that you can do to change your movement.

The Alexander approach is very unique. It considers how your patterns of movement  influence and undermine your actual movement. Then, it teaches you techniques to change the underlying patterns.

Research

Alexander Technique has been taught for over 120 years with consistent anecdotal evidence of its positive impact for learners.

Over the last 70 or more years there have been numerous studies undertaken on Alexander Technique’s effectiveness in assisting people. Research is ongoing as there is no clearly understood mechanism to explain why AT is so successful. In some areas science is just now able to offer explanations for the efficacy of Alexander Technique learning.

Have a look at these studies for a scientist’s view of Alexander Technique

How does AT work-a new model 2020 paper just published. click here

Effectiveness of Alexander Technique for Chronic back pain sufferers click here

 

Does Alexander Technique help back pain?

Blue Mountains Back Pain Management

Alexander Technique is a useful skill to learn to help in the management of back and/or neck pain. It’s a modest fee and some of your time to change your life. What are you waiting for?

If you live in the Blue Mountains, you don’t have to travel far to see experienced teachers. We’re in Leura. We have years of Alexander practice. We can help.

 

Call on 0448 406881 or click on the button below to  book a time

Send a message to Blue Mountains Alexander Technique

What is the Alexander Technique?

What is the Alexander Technique?

What is Alexander Technique?

Do you want to move with lightness, poise and balance; stand easy and upright? Would you like to let go of pain and discomfort to really liberate your movement? Well, read on because people use the Alexander Technique to achieve these outcomes. They’ve been doing that for the last 130 years.

Alexander Technique is based on the discoveries of FM Alexander. He lived from 1869 until 1955. He was named as one of 200 greatest Australians for our Bicentenary in 1988. He discovered that human functioning is a complex interplay of mind, emotion and physiology.

The theory behind Alexander Technique is quite complex (as you’d expect). However, learning the Alexander Technique is made quite easy for people through having trained teachers instruct you. Have a read of the following paragraphs. I gives a simple run down of the theory. If you prefer, come and have a lesson or come to an Introductory presentation.

What Alexander discovered

Functioning is integrated via coded patterns that influence every part of our body and mind. As an example, if you get an emotional shock, you may experience fear, you’ll pull backwards and down to protect yourself (fight or flight response), your pulse rate may go up but your blood will be sent away from vulnerable areas of your body. You may also scream or cry out. It’s your whole body that responds in a complex way.

Functioning is not just a simple stimulus and response. It is the result of internal processes. When you have a back or neck pain, the same complexity may well be working. This makes nailing down a diagnosis hard and treatment becomes inadequate in many chronic cases. That may be because back pain or neck pain are not just simple cause and effect responses. In fact, chronic pain is a complex interplay of  body, emotion and thought systems.

Alexander made observations that suggested how the brain might control movement in an embodied and integrated way. He observed that there was a ‘preparation to move’ that preceded all human activities. He noticed that he could categorise the quality of ‘preparation of movement’ as either coordinated or discoordinated. He began experimenting with coordinated ‘preparation to move‘ relationships in himself and others.  By doing so, he realised that many people who had been afflicted with chronic  patterns of tension were suddenly freed to move easily and without undue tension. Alexander discovered that he could influence the ‘preparation to move’ with particular thinking strategies.

Conscious Constructive Control

He called his discovery “Conscious Constructive Control of human coordination”. Use your “conscious mind” for “constructive outcomes” and to gain “control of coordination” and things really start to change for the better.

Alexander discovered that your thought affects your physiology, and your physiology affects your thoughts.  In other words, mind and body work in a united way in all human activity. He described this phenomenon as “psycho-physical unity”.

Alexander discovered that to allow a new movement to occur you have to prevent the old habit from happening.

He was able to demonstrate that people can achieve fine motor control that could prevent poor movement patterns from occurring using constructive thinking.

Done correctly, this thought/movement synergy can lead to highly adaptive, variable patterns of movement replacing destructive, fixed movement sets.

What does this mean? It means that you can move better and feel better quickly by learning this thought skill.

Effortless and easy movement. Conservation of energy for human beings.

Conscious constructive control of coordination is a skill that most people can learn through lessons and repetition. Many people who learn Alexander Technique are freed to re-define how they move, stand, walk, breathe and carry out many of their daily activities. That’s because properly coordinated movement feels effortless, easy and extraordinarily comfortable.

Imagine that over-tension, pressure, clenching and holding are suddenly released from off of your body. What an amazing relief! How exhilarating to walk up many stairs and not be tired or sore; to lift, carry and bend without discomfort or danger of injury. Alexander Technique has often been described as, ”the conservation of energy for human beings.”

What is the Alexander Technique?

Alexander’s discovery is that, by using some careful thoughts, anyone can change the habitual movement patterns set up in their brain safely and reliably, with very positive outcomes. For over 130 years, people around the world, have employed this process of careful thought, called “thinking in activity” to move better, feel better, coordinate better for an improved quality of life.

Michael & Jane Shellshear Alexander Technique

Next step, try these Alexander Technique links