What does freedom mean to you? - this was a trailer I heard for a programme on the radio coming up next week. The trailer included excerpts from famous people talking about the usual things associated with freedom such as liberty to do what you want to when you want to. However this got me thinking and I think its many things not only the above but if you have mobility problems your freedom is restricted in a different way as you are unable to fulfil a life that you want to. I was in this situation around 14 years ago. I was active, competative and filled my life with doing stuff. Being sedentary was not for me but suddenly I was trapped and my lower back was ceased up, I had horrendous sciatica and I even had to rely on a neighbour to drive me to the chiropractor.
Over time my back pain got better but the sciatica persisted and it was really very dibilitating, my freedom was certainly curtailed. I needed to find a solution quick. By chance my friend suggested I try Alexander Technique lessons but this was not a quick fix she said. I didn't care as I wanted to find a permanant solution to my pain. I was fortunate that after a few sessions of Alexander Technique lessons that my pain started to dissipate and I was able to return to what I wanted to do and lead a very active life.
So essentially learning the Alexander Technique has enabled me to experience the freedom I believe we should be able to do. I am very active sailing, cycling, playing golf and skiing.
How does the Alexander Technique help? It helps us to achieve freedom of movement. How does it do this? Well many of us have a very faulty awareness of the functionality of movement. Let's call it faulty living anatomy. I think its essential that we learn where our joints are located that are used in primary movement first such as for going from sitting to standing (& the reverse!) bending (and I don't mean the HSE ergonomic idea of bending of back straight and knees bent) and also our points of support and hence balance when we are standing and walking. I don't really care about real anatomy - the proper names of body parts its the useful bits of how we function and use our body that are important if we are to achieve balance, poise and freedom of movement.
Let's try this little example of how to get in and out of a chair.
- To attain balance in the chair we need to locate our sitting bones. Place your hands underneath your bottom and locate the two knobbly bits. These are your sitting bones.
- Now allow your attention to go into the space above your head, think of your spine lengthening upwards as your head releases upwards.
- Rock backwards and forwards in the chair continuing to think about length up the spine.
- Next time as you rock forwards go onto your feet and extend upwards to stand up with your head leading you.
- You should have found this an easier way to stand up out of a chair.