The Complete Illustrated Guide to Alexander Technique a Practical Program for Health, Poise, and Fit 9780760711781

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The Complete Illustrated Guide to Alexander Technique a Practical Program for Health, Poise, and Fit
 9780760711781

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,

.**-

THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO k

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M/i^"" iM)/^*!

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE A Practical Program For Health, Poise

and Fitness

GLYNN MACDON

THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE Modern

life is

hard on our bodies. Stress

and tension lead ,

stiff

necks,

and

all

backaches, headaches.

and other common ailments,

too often

part of the

to

we accept them

normal wear and tear of

The Alexander Technique shows not be that way.

control

as being life.

need

it

By using conscious

we can change

old patterns of

misuse and give our minds and bodies a

chance to work more freely

Developed by F.M. Alexander

in the last

century, the Alexander Technique

a

is

body

unique system of awareness of your

and mind which helps

to reduce

inappropriate tension.

The

relationship

between the head, neck, and back

is

recognized as the primary control in

we

function. In this comprehensive

beautifully illustrated book,

how

and

Glynn

Macdonald shows how the Alexander Technique can change

body and mind. which

will

It is

t

lie

vitality of

an expert guide

appeal to everyone as an

introduction to the therapy, and to those familiar with the Technique, as an

extension of their understanding.

THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED

GUIDE TO

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE

\

THE COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE

A

Practical Program for

Health, Poise, and Fitness

GLYNN MACDONALD Barnes JkNlOBLE

BOOKS

Acknowledgments The author wishes

©

Km

Element Books

©

and techniques

First

published

acknowledge permission

Quotes from F.M. Alexander's book

Glynn Macdonald 1998

Articles

and

1998 by

in

©The

kind permission of Mouritz,

IMITED

I

in

Living by

Estate of F.M. Alexander

1998. Quotes from F.M. Alexander's Constructive Conscious

8BP

Shaftesbury, Dorset SP7

to

Lectures, Man's

Supreme Inheritance and The Universal Constant

Books

I

to gratefully

quote excerpts from the following copyrighted works:

imited 1998

Great Britain

in

111 Ml \

1

Control of the Individual and The Use of the Self by kind permission of the publisher Victor Gollancz. Quotes from

1

published b\ Barnes

Ins edition

Noble

c\

arrangement with Element Hooks

b)

Barms & NOBI

1998

Raymond Dart's Skill and Poise by kind permission of Jean Fischer, STAT Books Ltd. Quotes from F.P. Jones Freedom to

Inc.,

united

I

Change by kind permission of Mouritz.

Books

i

Quotes from the

M

98765432

10

'Enhanced Respiratory Muscular Proprioceptive

in

Musculoskeletal Education Without Exercise', published

7607 1178 X

ISBN

article

Functioning In Normal Adults After Lessons

1

in

Chest

(1992) by kind permission of Joshua Siegal. Quotes from Indirect All rights reserved.

No

p.irt

Procedures:

book may be reproduced or

of this

utilized in

any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior permission

given

hook

in this

Any person with

Quotes from The Lost Sixth Sense:

a condition requiring medical

Theory and Practice

and created with

(

J. A.

of the publisher,

Book Company L

Books LlMl

mi nt

i

1

n

1

Editor:

A

Medical Scientist Looks at the

1995) by Charles Harris by kind permission Allen and Co. Ltd. Quotes from

miranda

Hole

spicer

m My Sidewalk, 01993

Beyond Words Publishing

of

The Neck

(Thesis, 1995) by kind permission of the

author, Mikael Karlberg. Permission to print the

Creative Director: fd day

Managing

editor,

author. Dr. David Garlick. Quotes from Fundamentals of Riding:

and Human Balance El

A Journal of The Alexander

The Alexander Technique (1990) by kind permission of

or therapist. Designi

Quotes from A Means of

by Ed Maisel by kind permission of Thames and Hudson Ltd.

attention should consult a qualified practitioner

Tlie Bridgcwai

Press.

by kind permission of the author Walter

Jeremy Chance. Quote from The Resurrection of the Body (1969)

medical advice.

to be taken as a replacement for

Man

Technique (Vol.2, No. 3, 1995) by kind permission of the

not intended

is

Understanding

Carrington. Quotes from Direction:

NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER Any information

Musician's Guide to the Alexander Technique

Oxford University

publisher,

writing from the Publisher.

in

A

(1997) by Pedro Del Alcantara by kind permission of the

poem

There's a

Portia Nelson, by kind permission

Quotes from Understanding

Inc.

Senior Commissioning Editor: caro ness

Balance: The Mechanics of Posture and Locomotion (1995) by

Production Manager: susan sutterby

kind permission of the author. Dr. T.D.M. Roberts. Quotes from

The Endeavour of jean Fernai (1946) by

Thi Bridgewater Book Company Limited

(

alyson kyles, kevin knight

Managing

Editor:

Three-dimensional models: Studio photography: Illustrators:

MK

HAI




r




at rest

and

in

integrating,

to the pupil,

both

movement.

Even while they teach,

men

learn.

Seneca: Epistulae Morales

The experienced hands of the teacher allow the appropriate release to happen.

;

,,J ^**-***-

J>

.;

Use Alexander Technique _

of

teachers give precise

verbal instructions reinforced by use of

their hands. In most forms of

what might be

Hands needs of the trunk for upright support and

freedom quoted

Uexander himself

to breathe.

l>\

teachers

who

termed "manual therapy." for example,

saying this procedure contained

experiences one needed to use the hands as a

distinct

modes of using the hands. The) are

used to

feel, to

in the patient: then the\ are used

perform some type of

manipulative maneuver

problem. teaching

A is

to correct the

distinct feature of

that these two

perceived

good Alexander

modes are

for greatest sensitivity in the

happening

key aspect of conveying possibility of

One

hands

in the pupil is at the

change

makes

to feel

what

same time the

manner

back of the chair."

It

known

as

background

the hack

required to use

"Hands on

the

provides a paradigm for

all

this

best

done

in small

first

two years of the course. In

way, simple practices become the basis from

which more complex

skills

can develop.

It is

a

steady, well-worked-out discipline, which needs

be established before

students become able to

work more

fluidly as they

near the end of their

of the hands

training.

coordinated with the primary

is

groups, being guided through a step-by-step

use of the hands in activity, ensuring that the use is

The hands on

to all the learning

program. This learning

to

of use.

of Alexander's most useful discoveries was

the practical procedure

the

of the chair procedure therefore provides the

program over the

unified:

to the pupil the

to a better

all

one's hands on others in an Alexander teaching

that use of the teacher's whole self that

is

teacher of the Technique.

palpate and discover what the

to intervene, to

,

on a flat surface with the head supported the knees bent allows the back to lengthen widen and the breathing to deepen.

'ing

id

often

physiotherapy or osteopathy, there are two

problems are

id

is

trained with him as

BREATHING DEEPENS

But Uv

us they

are special because they look this wag

PART TWO The Use

of the Self *

PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE

*

ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY THE PROCEDURES

^"••S^

t>

Look at the digereitae

Tke spine

(joes

the

&M*ts wbui as the zges

a*uL the, ojts

o

Forward

o

A

I

c \ a n

(I

c

T

r

e c

n

li

i

r

t

I

a

I

(I

1

G

u

i

d e

A

o

i

I

SITTING The

human

most important developments in skills to

and tool-using

humans had

develop,

position with their

c h n

(I

sitting

ability to sit in the upright position is

manual

a n

hands

a more conscious process and not putting so

much

weight down onto our joints.

evolution. For

to

be

a stable

in

Most of the tool-making

free.

activities of

one of the

humans and

of the great apes

are carried out in the sitting position.

When seated, our bodies find more stability than when Often

standing.

we tend

much

to sit badly, putting too

weight on our hip joints and internal organs and creating excessive pressure on the joints and disks of our spines

and on our

thighs.

very comfortable at is

a

relief.

longer likely

first.

down

sit

sit,

to sit in a

we

and finding

that

it

feels

our feet

often sag down.

are to cause stiffness and rigidity.

or telephone

off

The

collapsed way, the more

experienced having to get up quickly

move.

to relax,

Taking the weight

However, as we

we continue we

When we

we

to

We

have

all

answer the door

are almost too

stiff to

We get pins and needles in our legs and feet. The

reason for this

is

we have moved from

that

deadening posture

to

a collapsed,

an active moving one and our

muscles could not respond.

We can avoid this by making

Frederick Matthias Alexander

and

child sitting

Sitting STEPl Use a chair with a

and put your If

your chair

level seat

feet flat is

on the

floor.

too low, put

something on the

seat.

If

it is

STEP 2

STEP

Stand

Do

your

in front of the chair with

feet

apart and your weight

3

not think of going

into

evenly distributed between them.

two-way stretch of your back

Do

muscles. Let the hinge mechanism

not stiffen your ankle joints

work

too high, put something under

and knees. Let your head pivot

of your hips

your

forward from the top joint and

bring your head back over the

feet.

breathe out.

in

order to

spine so that you are seated in the upright position.

66

down

the chair, but be aware of the

T

Sitting in all types of chairs

DO • Sit

on your seat/sitting bones.



Release your ankles.



Release your knees.



Think of lengthening along your spine.

straight-backed chair with a

\

flat,

bard seat gives you clear feedback

on your

with equal weight on each buttock.

The

sitting position.

procedure for

• Sit lightly. • Sit

(linking

sitting in a

soft chair is the

same

as for

a straight-backed chair,

because the chair

DON'T

is

need not mean collapsing. Put something behind your

your neck.



Think of going down



Hold your breath.

chair or sofa to keep you



Arch your back.

upright.

Brace your legs



Lower yourself with your arms.



down

back

to sit.



• Pull

if

the seat

If

feet up, so

to get up.

is

very deep and use the arms of the

more

you can put your

much

the better.

By taking time to how you sit, you can avoid postural problems.

to get up.

think

Collapse in front.

Ancient

knew

Egyptians

how

sit.

STEP

6

Your weight should be equally

Make

sure your feet are

of the pelvis called the seat

divided between the front of your

the floor

bones

STEP

to

There are two bony projections

STEP

4

(ischia).

They are

a

little

foot

5

and your

heel.

Your

feet

and

higher than the lower edge of

calves should be vertical to your

your buttocks. You should be

knees.

sitting is

on them

in balance.

if

When we

we habitually

switch off and end up in a crumpled heap. Relaxing

your head back.

• Stiffen

in soft chairs,

but

soft, there

a lack of feedback.

sit

• Pull

is

your pelvis

Do

not hold yourself up

rigidly as the seat of the chair is

'

w

on

Let your head lead the

movement by

gently nodding

forward so that your body follows your

moves up

supporting your weight.

1

stiff.

flat

and your ankles are not

head and

in space.

-

67

T

li

e

C o

ni

p

ed

1

Guide

Alexander Technique

to

READING The to

earliest

books were large and heavy. People needed

use stands with sloping surfaces (lecterns), on which

to rest

the books.

viewed

at

The

an angle

lectern

is

This also allowed the books that

made reading easier on

not essential for

to

be

the eyes.

modern books, which

are not as large or heavy, but having the book at an

angle to your eyes

beneficial.

is

more

It

efficiently

strain that

allows you to see

and prevents the

can develop

your

in both

neck and shoulders from

f

looking directly downward.

Resting the book on the

back of a chair

is

a good

of improvising a lectern.

you are reading

in bed,

way

When

prop yourself

up with pillows and bend your knees to

form a natural slope on which

to

place your book.

A

lectern provides a

good angle

for

your book. Frederick Matthias Ale:

)ER

READING

Reading

STEP

STEPl Sit

comfortably on the chair

with your feet

Breathe out.

68

flat

on the ground.

Do

2

not hold yourself up rigidly,

but allow the back of the chair to

support your back.

STEP

3

Pick up the book and rest

it

on your knees with your hand keeping

it

open and breathe

out.

Thinking

in

Acti

ty

DO • Sit

Resting a book on the back of a chair

on your seat/sitting bones.

a good way of improvising a lectern. is



Release your ankles.



Release your knees.



Think of lengthening along your spine

• Sit lightly. • Sit

with equal weight on each buttock.

DON'T Pull your head back. Stiffen

your neck.

Think of going down

to sit.

Hold your breath.

When

Arch your back. Brace your legs

you are

on back and

sitting

a soft chair, sit well

put pillows behind you.

to get up.

Lower yourself with your arms. Pull

down

to get up.

Collapse in front.

STEP

STEP

4

Lift the

book by supporting

the back of

it

with the other

hand and hold

it

at

of about 45 degrees.

an angle

5

STEP

6

Try not to hold your

Remember

breath (even when the

down on your

story gets exciting).

from the

to

text

put the book lap and look

now and then

up as this

can stop you from overfocusing

and prevent eyestrain.

69

\

ll

I

I

< \ a

i)

(I

c

r

T

e c h n

(|

i

u e

HANDWRITING Medieval manuscripts took time

DO giving

write,

to

who read them.

Have

a good desk height.

Pride was taken in having a good hand, and people were

Have

a sloping surface.

pleasure both

paid

to the

scribes and to those

to write beautifully. Italic

writing was taught in

schools,

but today handwriting

carefully.

Many

is

not

of us type our thoughts

taught as

and miss out

on the link between forming the letters manually and

Take time. Get up

at

regular intervals.

Have equipment properly

set up.

Keep awake.

the satisfaction that a well-written page gives.

Today we write with a variety of implements — pencils, fountain pens, fiber-tipped pens,

One is

of the claims that a manufacturer

that

it

writes easily.

of his

pen

We need to consider how we use

the pen in order for this to be the case. Too often

create is

undue

effort

by holding the pen too

tightly.

we It

helpful to practice picking up the pen easily and

making some preliminary movements you put

A

it

to the

paper

DON'T

and crayons.

makes

in the air before

Collapse forward and hunch over.

Hold your breath. Stiffen your wrists.

Narrow your shoulders. Tighten your forearms.

Go

to write.

too fast.

sloping writing surface creates a better angle for

Grip your pen.

your eyes and helps to prevent you from collapsing down

Remain seated

in front, putting

undue pressure on your

internal

Go

into trance

organs and breathing.

too long



The sloping

writing surface

is important because the extra support helps to reduce tension in the forearm and wrist.

FLEXION

EXTENSION Place the pen gently

the

70

between

thumb and index

finger.

Bend the thumb and index finger, moving the pencil up and down.

Handwriting

tir\k STEP

STEP1

Check the height of the

table or

desk you are going to use. You

need

to

be able to move forward

from the hinge

freely

joints of

2

Allow your head to nod forward

and

let

your body move forward

from the hinge

STEP

3

Allow the muscles

to flex until

you can place your hand on the table. Rest there for a

joints

your chair up closer

moment,

then slowly rotate your hand

of your hips. As you do this,

from the palm-down position

your hips. Point your fingers

slide

down

your desk. Breathe out and

(prone) to the palm-up position

bend your arm

(supine).

to the

ground, then take

hold of the chair.

elbow

to

freely at the

as

joint.

Keep your

you do

wrist free

this.

Italic Writing Italic

writing requires the

position of the

pen

to vary,

which means that the pressure on the pen must change. Because the letters are not joined up, the

writer has the chance to stop as

STEP

he goes along. The pen has to

STEP 4

be dipped in ink very often,

Turn your hand over and

providing more time for the

back from your

muscles of the hand to recover

your hand straight so your

from the fixed position of holding

fingers point directly

flex

wrist, keeping

upward.

it

5

Keeping them straight,

flex

your fingers forward from the

Now

knuckles.

around

so

it

rotate your

This movement

the pen. Writing was originally

your index

done on a sloped surface with

is

the writer standing up.

bend and straighten your

known

finger.

as opposition. Gently

and thumb. Repeat

movement feels

STEP

6

Place your pen by a simple

movement between your index

and thumb. Gently hold

take care not to grasp

it,

it.

Repeat the bending and straightening of your fingers and

thumb with

the pen in your hand. Put the pen to paper,

take vour time, and

make some

definite strokes.

finger

thumb

meets the pad of

finger

this

a few times until

smooth and

easy.

it

r

li

e

C

Illustrated Guide

lete

o

USING

A

to

Al

KEYBOARD

to

Although old-style typewriters, with their heavy

been

have

action,

by

replaced

go

at

breakneck speed.

for the

presents

still

many

breath as

we work

difficulties.

causes

push down the keys, typing

the problems typing

is

face

when

we peer

can get

*

stiffness

neck

muscles.

When

audio-

we

/

make

order

to

When your

72

stretch of

your

buttocks reach the

mechanism of your hips work

bring your head back over the spine,

you are seated

in the chair.

to lose

the flow of air

a

in the upright position

we

of what

When we

out.

we

mistakes. Taking short breaks,

chair,

for a

down toward

moment

can help.

2

and breathe

to

be

cause

are bored,

Keyboard

Stretch your fingers

to

are doing.

often

AND TENSION

STEP

seat, let the hinge

being said. As

we tend

As

activities

behind your

STEPl back muscles.

is

even standing up

I

are tempted

Using

so that

boredom.

*

Keep maintaining the two-way

word,

our brains. This not only helps

Mindless

MEETING A DEADLINE CAN CAUSE STIFFNESS

in

to

more conscious

by

the

tightening

hear what

a computer screen,

keep us awake, but enables us

at the paper,

we cause

try to

try to type a

We tend to hold our

keeps the intrathoracic cavities open, more oxygen

of

document. Often

the

as

we

success.

strain in these difficult situations.

the need to look

at

typing,

we

One

give ourselves a second

aware of our breathing pattern can reduce neck

still

neck aches, headaches, frozen

shoulders, and frustration.

we at

we

before

concentration and go into a trance. Becoming

Although we no longer need great muscular effort to

If

to register

we may have more

better

keyboards, using our fingers freely on a

keyboard

sound

the ground

Thinking

in

Activity

ERGONOMICS The design

of the

work space may be given serious

consideration, but the design and function of the

people using the work space

is

often ignored. THE BREATH

NECK AND SHOULDERS STIFF

HOLDING BREATH

ROUNDED SHOULDERS

STEP

STEP 4

3

Breathe out and bend your arms freely at the

elbow joints. Allow the muscles to

flex until

you

Begin as you did for writing, but flexing

this time, after

your hands back from your wrists, place

can place your hands on the table, keeping your

them gently on the keyboard. When your

arms

are over the keys you wish to press, say

a

at right angles to the table.

moment.

Rest there for

fingers

"No"

to

the thought of hurrying, free your neck, breathe out.

Do

not

make undue

effort

and especially

try

not to tighten your wrists.

73

C.

o

m

p

I

e

G

,1

u

Alexander Technique

.I

i

SQUATTING Squatting

is

ourselves. Small children

and down

all

us lose the

ability.

on.

employ

and lower

raise

to this

way

of getting

up

many

of

the time, although later in life

Squatting

to get close to the sit

Squatting can be beneficial by giving a good stretch to

way

natural

the

we would

ground.

is

If

the simplest natural

we did

the long muscles of the back and stimulating the soft internal organs (viscera) of the body. it

way

is

an impossible movement, but

lack of use.

As

become

squat.

freer,

then squatting does

possible.

Squatting STEP1 Stand with your

STEP

feet slightly

wider

apart than for the standing

2

Continue with these directions until

you encounter any

procedure (see Standing, page 58).

resistance in your muscles. Stop

This helps to maintain your balance

where you are and wait for a

when you lower

yourself to the

ground. Say "No" to the feeling that

you

will

not be able to squat.

second, then see

if

you can

continue. If you find further

movement

is

not possible, stop

where you

are.

CHILD SQUATTING

When

a child squats, the heels contact with the ground. When our ankles get

are

in

stiffen

we may

find

it

difficult

to keep the heels flat. If you can do this, you will create a

good

antagonistic stretch of

the muscles.

STEP

3

In the squatting position, allow

your arms

to

hang

freely

between

your knees ready for use (see Gardening, page 156; see Lifting,

page as

75). Stay like this for as long

you

feel

give

your muscles a chance

comfortable in order to

release into the

new

to

position.

that

through

the general tone of your body improves

and as your ankles become

not have chairs to

Many may feel

this is only

STEP 4 When you decide to

get up,

think of where your head will go. It

needs to move in a

diagonal direction up over

your

feet.

your

Do

not overtighten

leg muscles.

T

LIFTING AN OBJECT (INANIMATE

minimal

)

Do you remember going clowns struggling

to

to

eircus and watching the

move

Then suddenly they were

the head with the dumbbells,

something.

hitting

be difficult

what

then

the

can become a

made

if

foam rubber, painted

When we find

imagine things are going

them more

much muscular heavy,

look like gray metal.

to

we

difficult to

tension.

lift if

When we

get ready with what

to

we

be heavy, we will

expect things to be

can become an

be the

appropriate amount of muscle tension.

When needs

to

assumes

stiffening

our muscles,

grasp an object

of the

hand are

When

is

impossible,

or

procedure

little

easier

effective

you grasp an object, the shape of your hand

to

give your directions. Second,

counter-balance. By

change. The position that the hand naturally

function of the hand.

try to lift

and say "No"

Your

freely.

body weight

to

inhibition,

you move

get ready with too

we consider

to

lifting

vou had thought were huge heavy balls were actually of

remember

not to expect the task to

try

each other over that

First,

and remember

the weights were very

and you realized

There are two things that can help

you get into a proper position before you

the heavy dumbbells? Their

lift

unsuccessful attempts funny.

to the

effort.

hink

called the position of

fixinj

we are

often defeating ourselves

the muscles and joints

in a state of equilibrium,

and

before

we

begin.

promoting

muscular efficiency, then we can grasp an object with

Don't make undue effort... it is not as heavy as you think.

Lifting an Inanimate Object

STEPl Before you

lift,

moment and ask

STEP

pause for a

yourself whether

you are generating unnecessary effort in

preparing to

lift.

STEP

2

Being careful not to grip too tightly,

take hold of the object.

When you

grasp an object, the

handle follows the

life line

of the

hand. Bend your knees and lower

You may

3

find that the

move

was easier than you had expected.

By not

stiffening

your

arms you have, not interfered with your breathing.

yourself and take hold of the object. Lift off the

it

a

little

way

ground and check

the weight of

it.

75

Complete

rated Guide

111

Alexander Technique

to

LIFTING AN OBJECT (ANIMATE)

In

SHOULDERS RELAXED

order to lift a child safely, is important to remain

it

relaxed; otherwise, the

tension

in

our bodies

will

communicated to the

When we

have

to

we hold

a baby or a child, so often

lift

our breath. Because we are frightened we might lose our grip, we tend to hold on too

change shape, but not

tightly.

KEEP BREATHING

Our hands must

to the extent that

they

become

claws and by their excessive tension frighten the baby.

We

need

balance the weight of our body against the

to

moving weight of the Because we

we

feel

living object

we need

often create too

shoulders.

We

to

much

we

are trying to

lift.

hold the baby close to us, tension in our arms and

can hold someone freely yet securely

without tightening. Support and a feeling of security are

given to the child through the feelings in our body.

Lifting an

Animate Object

j STEPl Before you

lift,

moment and ask

yourself whether

you are generating unnecessary effort in

preparing to do

attention to your neck

STEP

STEP 2

pause for a

so.

and

Pay let

your head go forward and up.

Being careful not to grip too tightly,

Lift

it

and

When

a

take hold of the object. little

way

off the

ground

register the weight of

holding the weight close to

your body, allow your hips well

to go

back and your long back muscles to stretch.

76

it.

You may

much

3

find that the

easier than

expected.

By

move was

you had

not stiffening your

arms, you have not interfered with your breathing or pulled

down

in front causing pressure

on your internal organs.

be

child.

Thinking

REACHING UP WITH THE ARMS We need

to

be able

to

reach up with our arms

without incurring pain or even injury. strain our shoulders, if

we use our arms

and

stiffness

wrongly.

If this

persistent, "frozen shoulder" result.

that

The design

problems

in the joints

the

is

We

When

can

movement

arms and

operating to raise the arm, these muscles

tendonitis can result. This painful condition can

misuse

raising the

is

is

impossible (see Tendonitis, page 46).

so flexible

make

arms even a small degree almost you need

If

to

get something out of a cupboard, use your eyes to look

and muscles are very

up without pulling your head back. You can look up

of the clavicle, or

without shortening your back and neck.

the only fixed joint for the whole of

Ah, Man's reach must exceed

clavicl

runs the width of the shoulders and of the upper is at

for the

hand (manipulation).

can result

arm and the only bony connection. The

bodv, and

of the

can easily overtighten, and inflammation or

can be the

of the shoulder

common. The medial end collar-bone,

The muscles provide support allow for the

Act

in

else what's

the center of movement of the arms.

his grasp,

a heaven for?

Robert Browning

Reaching Up STEPl

STEP

Rotate your arms so your

Turn your hand around

palms are facing forward.

palm

STEP

2

is

so

facing backward.

your

Your

3

Look up and begin

arm by

This anatomical

shoulder girdle

position helps

should move

the

your shoulder

freely with you]

Try not

girdle to

arm

sway.

release.

extension of

as

to

lift

the

allowing your pointing

finger to lead

an

movement to

your head, neck, and

back.

STEP

4

Raise the other

arm

so both

arms are reaching up. Be careful not to

lift

your

STEP 5 When you

have

hold a weight



Free the neck.

up with your arms, use your



Breathe out.

own body weight



Drop the shoulders.



Lengthen the

to

as a

shoulders,

counterbalance and

and do not

do not

fingers.

stiffen up.

brace your

DON'T

knees,

arch your back, or

• Lift the shoulders.

hold your



breath.



Brace the knees.



Overextend the elbow



Drop the head back.

Hold the breath.

joint.

77

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:

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Task

y

CASE STUDY Roger Kidd Alexander Teacher

stiffness

correcting

The

Nature of the

physical craft.

heavy

tiles

It

Work -

Floor

involves a lot of

tiling

lifting

is

a very

and carrying

and bags of cement, bending down, kneeling

for long periods while reaching and twisting. All these

actions have to be carried out carefully with attention

to

detail,

because the end

The Problem -

my lower in

I

was

result has to look

more time

in

back and knees. As the jobs had to be done

a reasonable time (both for myself and the client),

would then throw myself

into the

work

with

hurried brute strength.This approach not only

my

-The Alexander Technique showed me

how was tensing up I

enabled setting

it

me

me

clumsier, forcing

these awkward positions

mistakes.

Solution

usually feel

in

well before the point

when

could

I

(after a long period of kneeling). This

then

to avoid these unnecessary tensions before

about the work, so

I

could see

how

I

could

lift

and carry heavy bags of cement without bracing and

good.

getting aches and stiffness

The

me

worse, but also made

to spend even

I

more

made the

holding

my

breath;

bend down repeatedly without

effort;

reach and turn while kneeling without any strain and

me work more easily and more quickly am more efficient in my work, and more energy because am no longer wasting

stiffness. All this let

without the hurry. have

I

I

it.

I

MAINTAIN STEADY BREATHING

KEEP BACK

LENGTHENED

Do

not hold your

when engaged demanding and

breath in

repetitive work.

59

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HOUSEHOLD CHORES We have in

benefited from the skills of the designer

all

our homes. Our kitchens are time-and-motion studies

aim

to

conserve our energy by reducing how far

we have

to

walk between appliances, by making the

that

T

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li

n

especially washing dishes.

Remember to keep your mind

on the job that you have

at

hand and do not

the trap of end-gaining (seeing

is

is

cup or plate you are washing

in itself, so the

fall into

finished) or thinking

Each action

of something else altogether.

moment

it

complete

at this very

the only thing that you are thinking about.

height of the work surfaces appropriate, and by

Thinking about something else

generally styling the work surfaces and door handles

what you are doing, because you do not enjoy

to

be ergonomically correct. Yet despite

practical advantages,

we

still

dishes, cut our fingers, slip and

manage fall,

all

these hot

spill

to

take your mind off

to

makes

Another area

always making

carrying of heavy pots and dishes, often

of preparation.

of jobs to be done, from a

What would

it

menus,

be like

to the

list

order

we made a few

if

we had

memo board,

this

we could refer

went from job

Lifting and Carrying The expectation often

lift

something

that

makes us

stiffen

as

we

expensively prepared disl

By

on

it

the

floor,

ourselves before the action,

reflex increases

to

75).

burned,

and

and we

The way you prepare to

very important.

lift is

Take a moment

vegetables.

page

overtighten.

injure ourselves. Let us look

the familiar job of chopping

hot food.

going to be heavy

the

excitation of the fear

less likely to

the lifting and

full of

(see Lifting,

carefully

a

to job.

to

is

is

to this the fear of possibly getting

dropping

or

can cause problems

taking the time to prepare

we would be

at

that

When you add

notes for ourselves? If

a

interesting.

it

A little more study of our own time and motion would off. We rush from job to job, without paying due attention to how we are performing. We are of ingredients, to shopping, to the

is

and burn the food.

pay

lists

it,

pointless exercise. Paying attention to the job at hand

DO NOT STIFFEN YOUR WRISTS

to free

your neck and give your directions, then test the weight of the dish or pot

Chopping Think of how you are standing before you begin. Do not

stiffen

your knees or lock your ankles,

but allow your knees to flex gently and your hip bones to

move

When

you pick up the knife,

tightly, to

you are beginning

slightly back, so

chop,

try not to

try not to

hunch your shoulders, and

your knife sharp, so you do not have effort into

chopped

pressing

down on

for a while, stop

this position

to

the handle.

to

grasp

When

and do not hold your breath.

bend. it

too

the heat source. So often you only realize that the gloves

are not working

burning yourself.

try to

When

have

much

you have

I

r

o n

into simple jobs. jar,

to

will not

resume your task

and

efficiently

check how much you are gripping the with half the

lid off

a

the

grip

not

nor press

heavily.

principles

are

of

too

apply

the

Inhibition

and

you

If

iron

down

and see

Direction, you will achieve a

The same

good result without aching

jar,

effort.

effort

principles apply to any job done in the kitchen,

160

Do

up

set

tightly,

Next time you are taking the

it

waste

better.

wasted by putting too much

whether you can unscrew

the

very way you get the

faster is

at

moment, so

important.

So often energy

n

ironing board and the

board

it

i

The way you stand

mode. Taking these momentary breaks

and probably do

how you perform

you begin

put too

for a

are half-way across the

these

actions will decrease the likelihood of straining or

your muscles do not lock into the repetitive chopping

your time, but allow you

when you

kitchen. Being conscious of

and take a break. Move from

and do some other job

and

whether your gloves or oven mitts really protect you from

shoulders and back.

MAINTAIN YOUR FULL HEIGHT

Sport and Recreation: Everyday

Ti

m ng

a c u u

Memo Board Vacuuming

is

one of the most common sources of back

home. Suddenly,

injury in the

our back suddenly gives out. the

vacuum

no apparent reason, are bent double over

cleaner, unable to straighten

explanation

we

that

is

Why

power.

to switch off the

relatively

for

We

does

to the

up or

to

bend

happen? One

are pushing and pulling a

heavy object back and

enough attention

this

forth,

and not paving

way we are using our bodies

we

are lulled into an almost

semiconscious state by the repetitive nature of the

movement and

physical

We

appliance.

almost robotic

the

numbing sound

1

.

2.

let

5.

keep your width

your upper chest

6. free your ankles 7. free

your knees

8. think of your shoulders, elbows,

and wrists

of the

as tunnels

are expending physical energy in an

Our muscles decide

state.

much

primary control

this is not wise;

activity with is

no thought

for

how

the

working makes them rebel and go

of his

do you stay conscious

in a repetitive task? If

DO NOT

DO NOT

HOLD YOUR

PULL

BREATH

IN

instrument. You can lean back against a

work

great temptation as you get engrossed in your

is to

allow your eyes to draw you

you keep thinking of your directions and get a good

nearer and nearer to your work so you

breathing rhythm established, you can avoid the robotic

end up with the work

can induce muscular reaction that ends

state that

in pain

in

your lap and

your back a semi-circle.

By waking up the conscious response,

So support yourself comfortably

even the most seemingly mundane task can be

on a firm pillow, raise your arms

satisfactorily performed.

toward your eyes, and enjoy your

or even injury.

creativity.

The

first

7

on your

sitting

when you want

sit.

to

sew or knit

is to

To begin, your weight should be

bones and your

feet

on the

floor.

Your

body should not be leaning forward putting weight on the thighs

abdomen

is to

in balance.

thing to do

consider how you

Whatever one

the important thing

Sewing

and causing the muscles of the legs and

to lighten.

When you

pick up your work, you

/

have always found

sewing a great

test

same way

to

Alexander Technique. DlLYS

Carrington

lean slightly backward in the

as a musician has to counterbalance the weight

of

the principles of the

should compensate for the weight of your arms and work

by allowing the torso

DOWN

FRONT

supporting pillow.

The

spasm.

How

in

and back

appliance.

into

your head go forward and up

your back lengthen and widen

4. breathe out

Be careful when vacuuming that you let your body weight move forward and back as a counterbalance to the

using too

to:

free your neck

3. let

to

counterbalance the weight of the appliance. As we continue with the activity,

Remember

/T

is

doing,

remain

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