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.
Feeding a baby can take up a fair proportion of a parent’s day and so it’s important to be comfortable both for yourself and for your baby. Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, it’s easy to focus more on the baby than yourself and this is where back pain can set in. Here are some top tips for looking after your posture for comfortable breastfeeding:
- Back support: You need support for your upper back, ideally between the shoulder blades. It’s important that your back is upright rather than slouched. If the seat is deep, such as on a sofa, you may need 2 or 3 cushions to support your upper back.
- Neck pain prevention: When looking at your baby, either to see if he has latched on or if you are looking in her eyes, think about what is going on with your head and neck. Use your eyes more to look down and if you need to tilt your head, nod your head from the head-neck balancing joint between the ears rather than shoving your head down from a lower point in the neck.
- Shoulder pain: Are your shoulders up by your ears? Ensure the baby is supported well, especially with a newborn. You can raise the baby’s height by putting cushions underneath so the baby is brought up to the breast, rather than breast to baby. This will also help over-curving your back.
- Leg tension: When sitting, are you on tiptoes? Try putting something under your feet so that your legs can relax. If the baby is too low, see the tip above on using cushions.
- Anxiety: Feeding doesn’t come easily to everyone and can be a time that is fraught with anxiety. Taking your time to make yourself comfortable will quieten your body that will feed through to the baby and can also help calm your mind.
It is a great pleasure for me to work with a mum who is feeding her baby. Helping her to get a sense of comfort, often for the first time, shows with a smile in her face and a peacefulness in the room that is almost tangible. As well as showing her how to set herself up when at home or out and about, I also work hands on to help build relaxation in her body.
When you put on a pair of glasses or sunglasses do you nod your head down to do so? And do you do the same when taking them off? No need.
Instead, try keeping your head still and lift your spectacles up and over the ears.
Changing these and other daily habits can help prevent neck strain and poor posture. By becoming more aware of these simple activities, the Alexander Technique helps you look after your body and reduce tensions.
To avoid neck strain, the top of your computer monitor should be at eye level, about an arm’s length away. Our eyes naturally look about 15 degrees down and so will then naturally look onto the screen.
There are various bits of equipment that you can buy to raise the screen but a cheap and cheerful option is to prop it up on some large books.
For laptops, it’s a different scenario as the screen is invariably too low and may even be a little close. This is fine if only using the laptops for short periods of time. If you are using a laptop a lot and don’t need it to be too portable, you can buy a separate keyboard and mouse. Ideally, the keyboard should be a “low profile” keyboard – one that is fairly flat. You can then prop the laptop up, an arm’s length away, with the top of the monitor at eye level. There are different types of kit available for this including ones that are like cookery book holders and others that are like bean bags. But, once again, you can always prop the laptop up on some large books.
Posturally, it is not good to push your head and neck forward to read the screen. This can cause neck pain, back and shoulder strain. It’s worth getting your eyes tested regularly to ensure you can see clearly. You can also look at getting a larger screen or adjusting the print size on screen. But also trust your eyes as pushing the head forward may just be an unnecessary habit.
So as well as thinking about your computer set up, think about your body and how you use it.