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The story of a corporate lawyer debilitated by pain who found the Alexander Technique...

Karen Krueger, now a fellow Alexander Teacher, was a corporate lawyer who became so debilitated by back and neck pain that she had to take a leave from her job. Around that time she began taking lessons in the Alexander Technique. She describes her journey from lawyer to Alexander Teacher in a fantastic interview on Bloomberg TV:


Alexander as a Tool for Injury Recovery and Prevention

"I honestly believe my injury wouldn't have happened if I had known Alexander before."
-Kristie Simson, dancer and professor of dance at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne (From Head First by Jen Peters, Dance Magazine).

A recent article in Dance Magazine looks at how learning and applying the principles of the Alexander Technique helps dancers recognize and change their own faulty movement patterns, thus giving them a highly effective tool for preventing injuries. It also quickens the process of recovery because dancers learn not to fall back on old movement patterns that got them in trouble in the first place.

"They come back more quickly from injury because they don't fall back on old habits", says longtime Juilliard Alexander teacher Jane Kosminsky. "The Technique becomes a tool for ongoing prevention."

We know that it's not only dancers or athletes who get injured. No one is immune to the stresses of everyday life. Simply sitting for long periods of time can be injurious, especially if we are straining to do so, using a lot of excess tension in the process. Noticing how we use ourselves in everyday activities such as sitting, standing, walking, picking up children and carrying groceries is, similarly to a dancers' efforts toward prevention, an important step in the process of changing our habits.

Awareness is the first principle of the Alexander Technique. As noted in the article, the quality of our awareness is really important, i.e. to be aware without judgement. If we're less concerned about right and wrong in regards to posture, we can be more attuned to the fact that alignment is not fixed, but fluid and dynamic. Good posture doesn't have a "right" position. For a dancer, as for anyone, this can mean the difference between holding or letting go of the breath: the release of which is fundamentally important for freedom in movement.

Noticing how we compensate for injuries is another important aspect of recovery, something an Alexander teacher can point out. As compensatory patterns settle in, often staying long after the injury has receded, secondary injuries can emerge.

Changing our habits is key but we can't just replace bad with good and then let auto-pilot kick in. Changing habits is an ongoing process. We become more clear about how we're moving and then can make a choice to do so more freely and with less effort. The idea of choice points to the second principle of Alexander Technique: Direction. Direction means that we can literally direct or re-direct our movement in the moment, deciding how much effort is needed, most often making the choice to move with less.

About a current student in my practice recovering from hip replacement surgery:
Luckily for him, he began his lessons a few months before the much needed surgery and so started becoming aware of compensatory patterns that had emerged over years of hip pain and severely limited range of motion. Through his lessons, he was able to release much of these secondary holding patterns, greatly reducing his overall pain and enhancing his sense of well-being. Now, in the post-surgery phase he has no hip pain! He is actively applying the Alexander principles to his everyday movements and to his rehabilitation exercises, helping him immensely in this rehabilitative phase. By applying these directly to his exercises, he's promoting greater ease and flexibility and improving his strength more quickly and without excess strain. As with the dancers, my otherwise healthy 70 year old student is coming back more quickly because he's not falling back on old habits, and is using the Technique as a tool for ongoing prevention. He does not want to re-injure his hip nor have his pain return. He wants to fully engage with his still active professional life, enjoy playing with his grandchildren, be able to take long walks and spend his weekends in the country all year round.


Alexander in the News - January 2013

This came out today in the Huffington Post Healthy Living section: 
Beyond The Pill: Physicians' Trend for 2013

In it, Dr. Loren Fishman offers a thoughtful discourse on how western medical approaches can work in tandem with alternative therapies to relieve such ailments as back pain, joint injury and stress. She singles out the Alexander Technique, often referring her patients to Alexander teachers with impressive results. "In my office I offer still-obscure ways of healing such as Alexander technique and Feldenkrais that grateful patients gush about when thanking me, their aches and pains having dissipated, sometimes after years of disability and low life quality." Dr. Fishman mentions Alexander again in discussing a recent patient whom she referred to an AT teacher. The patient who was in such severe pain that she could not even go through physical therapy, after one month of taking lessons, cancelled her follow-up appointment with the Doctor "because, as she said, "I don't need it"."


From My Student's Point Of View

It's the best thing I've ever done for myself. I'm not tensing up or overworking certain muscles when I work. It used to be that only regular massage and chiropractic adjustments would release that tension and now I don't feel that I need them. The work teaches me to take control of my body and it's a very powerful feeling. As a result, everything I do is more comfortable, with less stress! 
-Enola I. Salon Owner and Stylist

This is a testimonial from a current student of mine who has been taking lessons from me regularly for just about a year. I wanted to share her enthusiasm and her experience with the work. Enola's profession presents physical challenges everyday and in her lessons she has learned how to create the conditions for greater stability, ease and comfort in her body, transforming the daily repetitive motions required to do her work into actions that don't cause strain. This has been extremely valuable in taking her through long days of standing on her feet and leaning forward over her clients without pain or excessive effort. 

It is exciting when my students realize that as a result of their work with the Technique, they can fully enjoy the things they love to do in both their personal and professional lives without having to compromise their well-being or pay for it later with strain, injury, pain or extreme soreness. This has absolutely been my experience as a dancer and performer, and now also a committed yoga student along with a new weekly regimen of running and strength training. Alexander Technique has allowed me to test my physical and technical limits without injury or pain (this was NOT the case early on in my dance career). I do get sore (of course!) but I recover much more quickly.