Today, there are many established and emerging health systems that involve exercises or movements training that enable us to have better posture and to move in ways that put less stress on the body. No matter what exercises we do, and how well we take care of our bodies, the vulnerable tissues in our body, such as our joints, will become worn out over time. Nevertheless, there are precautions that we can take to slow the rate in which the joints of our body age and become injured to the point that the damage becomes irreversible. There are also certain exercises and movement techniques that enable the sensitive tissues of our body to heal faster when they become injured. Here we will discuss the Alexander Technique, which teaches average people who to move with a minimum amount of force and pressure on body structures that may become painful, if worn out. The joints and soft tissues, such as the fascia which line the muscles and connective tissues, may be especially prone to injury if we use bad posture and body mechanics while doing certain exercises, lifting movements, and other average daily activities - like working at our desks.
The Alexander technique basically teaches us how to move and use our bodies better, so that we will be able to go as long as possible without feeling some of the more painful effects of the aging process. This system is more modern than the Eastern healthcare systems such as Yoga, and is more focused on body mechanics over some of the more spiritual aspects of the Eastern movement practices. The Alexander technique has helped people suffering from chronic back pain, as well as other medical conditions associated with chronic pain, including frozen shoulders, tennis elbow, housemaid's knee, and tension headaches. When a person is able to make long term changes in their body mechanics as a result of using these techniques, they may also be able to make permanent corrections to the way they use their bodies, eliminating postural bad habits such as flat feet (aka fallen arches or pes planus). These permanent changes in the way that we stand, walk, and use our bodies may extend the life of our joints so that we don't suffer from conditions such as arthritis and neck pain.
Today, many of us have shoes, occupations, and work stations that cause us to use our bodies in ways that are unnatural, compared to how we would use them in the wild, sans technology. In addition, many of use carry around a lot of extra weight compared to how much we would if we were at our ideal size. As a result, we sit, stand, walk, run, and transport objects around our environment in ways that are unnatural. These unnatural body mechanics cause weight to be unevenly distributed to certain muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other joints in our body as we do certain lifting movements and other activities. These improper body mechanics can wear our bodies, out, even when we are relatively youthful in age. It's hard to imagine what we could possibly do to our bodies to adversely affect it just from working in an office or sitting behind the wheel of a truck. Nevertheless, bad body mechanics while doing these things may be the reason that many people suffer from orthopedic conditions such as neck pain and sciatica despite the absence of any recent trauma or injury. The Alexander Technique teaches people how to become aware of how their body movements affect the joints of their body, and how to change their body mechanics so that they can prevent or recover from joint pain.
This system was not created by a doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist. This system was developed by a Frederick Matthias Alexander, an actor, in the late 1800s, who develop the system initially as a way to recover from illnesses that affected him. Around 1890, the Actor Alexander began developing hoarseness and breathing problems, which threatened his career if the problem was unable to be corrected. To recover from his condition, Alexander consulted with several medical physicians, who were unable to find what was causing the conditions. Alexander began to examine how his own movements during speaking might be affecting his inability to speak clearly. He began looking at himself in a mirror while he was speaking, to look for any irregularities his body would make while in the act of phonation. Soon, Alexander noticed that he was contracting his whole body just before making the action of talking. As he would talk, Alexander would inadvertently pull his head backwards and downwards, and that this pattern of movements would disrupt his ability to speak clearly without and restriction. Based on what Alexander saw, he was able to alter his body mechanics in such a way that is posture no longer restricted his ability to speak freely and clearly.