Pain, fear of moving & The Alexander Technique “Don’t move the way fear makes you move.” –Rumi
If I believe I can do something I have more likelihood of having lower pain levels and disability (according to research). I think that the Alexander Technique helps with this in lots of ways…here’s one way…and whether you have pain or not you can practice moving in this way and it will make moving easier.
If I have pain and I do a task, like getting on the floor, and I continue to do it, and I continue to have pain when I do it, I will begin to expect to have pain when I do it, and all that attention on the pain means I will probably have more pain. It’s a vicious circle. Also because I avoid things I can get muscle wasting and become less fit. This is perfectly understandable, after all when I have pain…I try to avoid it!
So, here’s a way to apply the Alexander Technique, with a bit of living anatomy, to getting on the floor! You could try it too?
I want to get on the floor, maybe to do my Alexander Technique practice of active rest. I have right knee pain (but it’s the same principle without pain).
- I decide I am going to do active rest,
- I am stood thinking about doing it,
- Then I decide not to do it! I release all unnecessary tension and apprehension. In Alexander Technique terms I inhibit. All the thoughts about the pain (or increased pain) that might happen, and fear around it go away. After all I am not going to do it.
- I enjoy standing, looking out the window at the autumn colours in the garden (you could enjoy looking at what is around you). Even thoughts of being fed up of pain have gone because I am enjoying being aligned with the present moment, and the autumn sun. The other thing that has reduced or even gone, are the physical things happening outside of my awareness in response to going on the floor, like my muscles tensing up, or even bracing in anticipation of the activity. Fabulous! It’s like stepping out of one world into another. Fear of pain world (with its body responses) into gorgeous autumn world.
Then I decide I will do it…
- I remind myself I don’t know if this activity will hurt or not until I do it,
- I remember where my knee is (because I learned my knee joint is lower than I think with Alexander Technique lessons and living anatomy)
- I could move to the floor in any number of ways but I choose to transfer most of my weight onto my left foot as I also think my crown up away from my foot (I direct in an Alexander Technique way),
- I have decided to move to the floor with the support of a chair and my right hand is on the chair…yes it’s the left one in the photo! (this is not essential but is especially useful if you have balance issues)
- I can invite (think it/direct it) a mobile left knee and release my left knee forwards
- At the same time as my left knee releases and bends I slide my right foot straight behind (feet are hip width apart like on parallel tracks) and my right knee gently bends as my foot slides back,
- I think about my crown releasing “up” all the way and I notice things in the room as I do it,
- I stop once I am kneeling on one knee (my right knee is on the floor) and I decide to be there and just enjoy the moment in a mindful way. My crown continues to release upwards. It helps to rest my right knee on a cushion (but that is not essential)
- Here, I could continue to move further to the floor…I could get up again or I could stay where I am,
- Again I let go of the thought of going to the floor and my body too lets go of any unnecessary tension associated with the activity,
- Then I decide to move further to the floor, and eventually to the floor, with exactly the same principles, moving, stopping, enjoying each stage with no agenda. I enjoy the process of moving and I don’t focus on the end point or task (I don’t “end gain” in Alexander speak). I can apply the same principles to get up off the floor.
In an individual Alexander Technique lesson, or group, you can practice this with a teacher who can support you in finding ways to move that are efficient and full of ease (which may be slightly different to the above mechanics/description of getting onto the floor). You will also learn about living anatomy/body mechanics. It does break the fear habit (stops the anticipation of pain), it allows muscles to work more efficiently and build their resilience to movement, it builds confidence that you can do something with ease. You also learn to do this in a way that flows so there are less pauses on the way to the floor. You begin to realise you can do the activity, and you experience less and less pain which may go completely!
A client recently told me they had read one of my blogs about the Alexander Technique and decided to apply it to their pain problem…and it made their pain go away when they walked! Wow! It was such a wonderful thing to know that my blog had helped. Let me know if this one helps you?
Alexander Technique Teacher
#inhibition #activerest #alexandertechnique #kneepain #livinganatomy #fear