Lumbago, or lower back pain, is very common. It can be felt anywhere along the spine – from the neck down to the hips. The back pain can sometimes be chronic, lasting a long time, or it may keep coming back. The Alexander Technique helps us see if we are causing or exacerbating the backache. Is the back soreness from poor posture? Does it start from how we sit or stand? Does bending or lifting things make it worse? Do exercises help or hinder the progress?
Lying down – Back support
In Alexander Technique lessons, we look at all of this. We identify what good, natural posture should be and what helps set up a strong back. Lying down on the floor with books under the head, keeping the knees bent, is one of the best things for back health. This supports the back and gives a chance for tight muscles to relax.
The mind body link is so important. ArtOfPosture lessons will teach you how to relax as this can be easier said than done. You will find out how to connect more with your body and what thoughts help the muscles release tension.
Sitting, Standing, Bending
We can sit, stand and bend in ways that affect lower back pain: slumping, leaning on one leg, bending with straight legs, over arching the lower back. The hands on work from ArtofPosture will gently guide you to a more comfortable way of using your body. It helps you to help yourself and to get to the cause of the lumbago, not just the symptoms.
No time like the present
Why wait until your back is really bad? Try out an Alexander Technique lesson and invest in your back health sooner rather than later. Come for one session and see if it works for you. Then you can think about booking up a course of lessons. The Alexander Technique session is a proven way for sufferers of chronic back pain.
People often think the Alexander Technique is about imagining a string or golden thread coming up from the top of the head. It is certainly useful to think upwards. Much of our attention is downward: reading, typing, texting, cooking, childcare. This can make us slump and this can cause back pain or neck pain.
String on top of the head – Neck Tension?
A thread coming up from the top of the head can sometimes make people over stretch their neck. They may also tip the head backwards. And this can bring tension into the body.
String on top of the head – Back Pain?
Backache, whether it’s lower back pain or upper back pain, can happen when we’re trying to do the right thing. But knowing what the right thing is can be tricky. And so the Alexander Technique is useful as it dispels some myths. If you are overstretching imagining the string, then you might still have back tension or lower back pain.
Good posture is free and not rigid or held
We want connection to the floor as well as thinking up to the top of the head. Try some of these ideas listed below as well as imagining the string and then see what works for you. There’s only so much we can do for ourselves. We rely on feelings that may be faulty and have habits we’re unaware of. An Alexander Technique teacher has an objective eye to see what your habits are – where you overstretch or where you slump. They can then guide you, through explaining and hands on work, so you can have better posture and feel more comfortable.
Think up from your feet all the way to the top of your crown.
Think of the space above your head.
Imagine your hair sprouting from the top of your head.
Imagine bubbles constantly travelling up through your body to the top of your head.
Find an Alexander Technique teacher
You’re welcome to contact me for a free 15 minute consultation on the phone or zoom before trying out a lesson with me. If you don’t live in London, then my professional body can guide you to someone in your area.
When a joint can move beyond the normal range of movement, this is known as a hypermobile joint. It may be present in just a few joints, such as the knees or the back, or it may be widespread.In many people joint hypermobility doesn’t cause any problems. But a small percentage of the population can have joint and ligament injuries, pain or discomfort.
Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (HMS) is a specific condition. Other symptoms of HMS may be less obvious than the hypermobile joints. These can include: gastrointestinal problems, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and bladder problems. People may also bruise easily and suffer from fatigue and depression.
Some people are very hypermobile and feel very insecure in their body. They can find it difficult to stand or sit with ease. Others may be quite stiff, partly due to holding tension around unstable joints.
The Hypermobility Syndromes Association recommends the Alexander Technique to help manage symptoms.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should
Hypermobility can be helpful for some. Athletes, gymnasts, dancers and musicians might specifically be selected because of their extra range of movement. However, just because it is possible to move a joint fully, it may not always be safe to do so.
An Alexander Technique teacher can show people how to care for their bodies in a safe way and how to limit ranges of movement, where necessary. It’s a very gentle approach.
As awareness of HMS is increasing, more young people are being diagnosed. This is also raising awareness amongst adults, particularly where there is a genetic component.
Find out more on hypermobility
The following links provide further reading:
I love working with pregnant women. During pregnancy, a woman’s body is changing rapidly. It’s important to develop good habits early on to help avoid back pain.
Pregnancy – Adjusting to the Bump
I help women to strengthen their back and to find balance and ease, both physically and emotionally. We do a lot of work with bending to learn how to support the back properly both during pregnancy and when the baby arrives. I also have ways to show how not to arch the back which is a common posture during pregnancy.
We look at preparing for labour and getting ready for when the baby comes, being back and neck aware. If a couple wants, I can also work with the birth partner so they know how they can support mum. One thing I focus on is the quality of touch so that the touch is supportive and not adding to tension.
It’s best to start as early as possibly – ideally from 3 months.
Adjusting to the baby
There’s so much to adjust to when a new baby comes into the world, that mums (and dads/partners) can forget to think about their own bodies. And this can cause havoc with their backs.
It can also be quite stressful and emotional.
In an Alexander Technique session, we can look at a range of practical activities such as:
- bending and avoiding back ache: over the pram, cot, bath, changing mat
- breastfeeding without straining your back and neck
- sitting comfortably when playing with the kids on the floor
- carrying your baby without arching the back
- working out the best way to wear a sling
- using baby car seats without damaging your back
- how to find calm and reduce anxiety.
I’m very happy for parents to bring the baby into the lesson. If the baby’s sleeping then the two of us can work together. If the baby needs attention, we can work while you hold the baby or breastfeed.
I’m also happy to sing to the baby to soothe him or her – lullabies and football songs, whatever their preference!
Lying down – simple but effective
Alexander Technique lying down is a simple but highly effective way of relaxing the mind and body. The semi-supine position involves lying on your back with your knees bent and with books under the head to keep the neck in neutral.
This is often the favourite part for people in an Alexander Technique lesson and some practically run to the table when they arrive!
Lying down helps your body quieten after being upright. It gives your back a rest. And it is surprisingly comfortable. The number of books under the head is different for everyone. Try to find a height so that the back of your neck is neutral. Too few books and your chin will point up and the back of your neck will be shortened. Too many books and your throat might feel constricted.
Hands on contact
The quiet, subtle touch from my hands helps to release muscle tension and to quieten your nervous system. As well as the hands on work, I am also monitoring breathing, watching with my eyes and listening with my hands for tension and twists.
After lying down, people often say that they feel taller or calmer. They can feel like their shoulders have melted into the table. Their faces often relax and they can look younger.
I give ideas to the person on the table so they lear how to think to the muscles to quieten them. Getting brain to talk to muscles. Relaxing is quite a skill. We build up a series of thoughts, or directions, so that it becomes a self-help technique.
This is something that can be done at home or even at work. It’s such a simple way of looking after oneself.
The more you lie down, the more you are remembering to be in the moment and think about yourself rather than what you need to do. So it’s mindfulness in action.