The Anatomical Basis of Posture
How do postural problems originate?
Posture is an interplay between "hardware," i.e. the bones and muscles, and "software" — how the brain tells the muscles to act on the bones to produce movement.
Some people experience pain or discomfort because they have been injured in an accident or born with a deformity. However the average person isn't born with distorted hardware, but through improper "use" of the body they create dysfunctional patterns of support, which then become habitual.
"After trying chiropractic, weight training and other methods to deal with my back pain, I feel that by working with Thom I'm finally addressing its root causes, not just the symptoms."
— Lisa Murphy
Former Anchor for Bloomberg TV
For example, instead of elongating of their spines, most people compress them — often asymmetrically. Over time, what begins as a small distortion grows into a bigger one that then spawns a second generation of accommodation.
So the question becomes: how can you make the most effective use of the hardware by re–scripting dysfunctional software?
Which Activities Can Exacerbate Problems?
Think of all the skills you use in a typical day: walking, sitting, standing, chewing, speaking... the list goes on. If any or all of these activities have become distorted or unbalanced over time, Alexander Technique sessions can help "reprogram" the software glitches that underlie them.
Those who engage in repetitive motions such as driving, typing, horseback riding or playing an instrument are especially at risk, because the software dysfunction is reinforced and magnified by repetition. This also creates greater and greater dysfunction of the underlying bones and muscles.
What Happens During a Session?
In a series of sessions, muscles that have been substantially misused or underutilized are gradually re-trained and strengthened. For this reason, 3 sessions per week for a few weeks are recommended for new students.
A typical Alexander Technique lesson has several components, including:
Chair Work. Muscles that have been
substantially misused or underutilized in
sitting and standing are re-trained and
Table Work. The student's neck, spine and
limbs are gently guided by the teacher while
laying on a raised flat surface.
Walking and other habitual movement.
The teacher gives real-time feedback regarding
the student's "use" during everyday activities.