Alexander Technique – why you should try it…
05 May 2017
By Hayley Carmichael
Rebecca Rees is offering free taster sessions of Alexander Technique as part of SCFT’s Wellbeing@Work Festival , she tells us what it is all about.
I am a Registered Nurse and Health Visitor working in the NHS for over 30 years. Health promotion and prevention of ill health have always been my main interests.
As a young nurse I struggled with sciatica back pain from all the heavy lifting we had to do in the 1990s. I was lucky, my back recovered once I changed my work and started Health Visiting.
But along came the computer……it arrived one day on my desk in the rural GP practice I was based in.
“What do I do with this?” I asked my GP colleague,”Just have a go, trial and error, he replied….
And that was the start of my uneasy relationship with IT. I did not use it much at first but then the need to use the computer gradually increased. I found it stressful and difficult and I knew it made me tense. I was self taught and did not enjoy it.
At the same time, I started using a mobile phone, mainly texting with my thumb. After a few years I developed a stiff and painful shoulder that was threatening to send me off sick. I struggled on. I noticed after a two week holiday it would be better but immediately worse once I was back at work.
A colleague told me I had repetitive strain injury.
I felt tired, stressed and worried about my worsening shoulder problem but did not know what to do about it.
I grew up playing piano and violin, as well as singing. I still enjoy music as a hobby. I had heard of the Alexander Technique through the music world but did not know what it was. I had heard it could help with RSI, back pain, neck problems, stress and breathing problems. I heard that some musicians learn it at college to help prevent injuries.
Increasingly desperate with my frozen arm, I found a teacher and booked a lesson. My first lesson was an extraordinary light bulb moment.
“Why do I clench my teeth all the time?” and, “When did I start holding my breath all the time?” were my first questions for my teacher.
”Ah, you are discovering your subconscious habits of tension that are causing your injuries and pain. You are learning the Alexander Technique.”
My recovery and re-education journey had begun! Very quickly my RSI improved, I started to breathe more freely, I started to laugh deeply from the belly, felt happier, calmer and my confidence increased especially in difficult work situations.
It was amazing – so amazing that I decided to leave my full time NHS role and train for three years to teach the Alexander Technique myself.
Watch this video to find out more…
What Alexander does
Alexander technique is a practical method for improving the way we use ourselves –mind and body- in everyday activities. It is gentle and we gradually become aware of how we respond to stimuli and we learn to change that response pattern to something more helpful and with less tension. We learn to be at ease in ourselves and gain better coordination and movement patterns.
It helps with sitting at the computer and not getting ‘sucked into the machine’, whatever the machine throws at us!
It relieves back pain and RSI, muscle tension reduces, changes become embedded and new patterns of the good use of ourselves emerge. It is psychophysical re-education.
It gives us a toolkit of skills that we can use to help us enjoy what we are doing, manage stress, reduce anxiety and breathe well.
Alexander Technique is already offered in some NHS pain clinics, recommended by NICE for Parkinson’s patients and listed by the Osteoporosis Society for helping with musculo-skeletal pain.
The BMJ of 19 August 2008 published a major clinical trial funded by the Medical Research Council showing that AT lessons provide long term benefit for back pain sufferers.
Here is a video from the BMJ…
More research articles can be found here www.stat.org.uk
I am convinced that Alexander Technique can offer many benefits to exhausted, stressed and over –worked NHS staff.
Come along to the free lunchtime taster sessions I will be running in May 2017 and experience the Technique for yourself.
It could be the start of your journey towards a healthier, happier and more balanced self.
For more information and to book a taster lesson contact:
Rebecca Rees Bsc Hons, MSTAT, CNHC registered