“Back injuries are extremely common, yet often misunderstood” says an article in the Guardian.

The article goes on to suggest useful lifestyle choices that can help with back pain. Including how helpful it would be to learn the Alexander Technique. In doing so, it cites the British Medical Journal’s randomised trial, which showed the benefits of the technique for back pain to be both effective and long-lasting.

This is very good to see. For lately there has been a fashion for undermining the importance of posture. I have even seen suggestions that slouching when sitting is not that bad for us.

I beg to differ. Both my personal experience of back pain and my experience as an Alexander Technique practitioner have taught me otherwise.

Posture awareness to maintain an upright flow in the body is a basic requirement in the daily life of us humans. This is at the core of the Alexander Technique. Integral to good posture is good sitting.

Our spine has three main curves. These are designed to maximise mechanical advantages for weight bearing and distribution. They act like shock absorbers when we move. How can it not matter if we excessively compress these curves by slouching?

Sitting is a sedentary state recognised as not being good for us. How much worse then it is to sit badly! The long-term effects of compressing the spine curves by slouching will be felt at some point. We can minimise the negative effects of sedentary sitting by learning to sit on… guess what? Our sitting bones!

These bones (or Ischial tuberosities, to give them their proper anatomical name) are located at the bottom of the trunk forming part of the base of the pelvis. When we sit, their job is to support the skeletal structure of our backs.

Sitting like this leaves the bottom end of the spine—the tailbone—free from the pressure of the chair. This allows the entire vertebral column to keep its natural length.

That’s one end of the spine. What happens at the other end, where the neck connects to the head? Well, you may well be familiar with the expression computer or text neck. Suffice to say that when our head, neck and back are correctly aligned, the body is naturally self-supported upright, against the pull of gravity, with minimum of effort.

The link between poor sitting and poor posture—and back pain—is clear. But when we regain our natural upright posture we function in a physiologically efficient way. This is described In the Alexander Technique as functioning with “maximum of efficiency and minimum of effort”.

In highlighting the usefulness of learning the Alexander Technique as a means of addressing back pain, this article hits the nail on the head.

A few days ago I was sent a video of my one-year-old nephew taking his first steps. I was struck by the pure joy that he expressed as he laughed with delight every time he picked himself up from the floor and was able to take a few steps, his postural balance developing at every new attempt.

As I was walking through Burgess Park (my local SE London much-loved green space) this morning, I thought about that delight in walking and I began actively directing my own walking through my Alexander Technique Directions. Letting my neck be free from tension to allow my head to release upwards to let my trunk lengthen and my back widen.

I immediately could feel the difference this thinking was making on my steps. Freed from compression from above, my legs were responding with renewed springiness. I felt myself walk with more ease and flexibility. My knees bending effortlessly and my ankles and feet flexing smoothly. Walking suddenly became more enjoyable.

Even after years of practicing and teaching the Alexander Technique myself, I am constantly rediscovering my joy in such everyday activities. And walking is just one of many everyday and yet essential actions that can be improved by better coordinating the use of our body.

If you want to learn how you can do what you do better, give me a call and talk with me about how the Alexander Technique can change that for you.

Introducing the Alexander Technique to Sonographers at the Royal Free

I have just finished running a three-session workshop on “Alexander Technique for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders and Release of Stress for/in the Sonography Profession at the brand new Chase Farm Hospital, for the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. Over my years of working with Alexander Technique for the radiography professions, I have learned […]

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SEMI-SUPINE FLOOR WORK: a practice that promotes back realignment through tension release

An integral part of learning the Alexander Technique is to practise this resting balancing state. In semi-supine we are encouraging the back muscles to coordinate so that deeply held tensions can start to let go. The intervertebral disks in our spine are subject to pressure during the day as our body weight pushes down. Cartilage […]

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Chronic neck pain and Alexander Technique: New study

Chronic neck pain is a difficult condition to manage and additional approaches are needed, particularly ones that have a strong self-care basis. Read about this in a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Published research on the Alexander Technique: My recommendations

More and more research is being done on the Alexander Technique. Here are links to a few academic papers which I particularly recommend: Lighten Up: Specific Postural Instructions Affect Axial Rigidity and Step Initiation in Patients With Parkinson’s Disease Increased dynamic regulation of postural tone through Alexander Technique training Neuromechanical interference of posture on movement: […]

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Smart Phone! Smart Posture? My thoughts…

Text Neck – A problem of the modern age Text neck, or tech neck is the term used to describe the pain and damage caused to the neck, back and spine from constantly looking down at electronic devices. It is one of the most common causes of back pain and headaches and is an epidemic […]

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How time shapes your posture… and how the Alexander Technique can help

Our body is shaped by how we use it over time. Bad postural habits that have developed over many years can feel normal until pain alerts us that something is not quite right. For instance you might have heard of “forward head posture” or “computer-neck” as way of describing the habitual hunching in front of […]

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Sitting on a Saddle Seat

Do you know why the incidence of back pain in tribal people is very low? They don’t tend to sit in chairs for long hours. Sitting Support Most people sit slumped back into the chair seat maybe misguidedly thinking that in doing so they are supporting their back. In fact they are often sitting on […]

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