Neck tension and back pain can be a real problem for some of us, particularly if we work at a desk and by the afternoon we can be really suffereing and longing to go home. For others, the problem may be all day. So what can we do?
As a teacher of the Alexander Technique I meet many people for such reasons and I can empathise with anyone who suffers such problems as it can be debilitating. The problems at a desk are numerous, but in general, we can tend to collapse our posture as we work on the computer, or when writing. Our full attention is usually on papers and keyboards at a lower height than our heads and we come down towards them. We stoop. Consequently the weight of our head and upper body gets off balance forwards and gravity pulls us further forwards and down. This causes excessive tension in our back and neck muscles as they struggle to hold us up. So we get stiff, the natural curves in our spine get distorted and cartilage becomes compressed. We can then trap a nerve, cause long term disc degeneration or even perforate a disc.
There are many treatments that can provide help including massage, physiotherapy, chiropractics, osteopathy and many others. At the end of the day though, even if we feel better after the session, if we have habits of stooping and slouching we will return to the same old pattern that caused the problem in the first place. The answer is to get to the root of our situation, which is namely how we ‘hold’ ourselves, our posture and our overall muscular co-ordination. We need to change our posture long term and get rid of our postural habits. A course of Alexander Technique lessons will educate us in how to look after ourselves on a daily basis, so we are free of unnecessary tension, upright and well balanced. We restore the natural poise we enjoyed as young children.
In the natural world we should all be very free in our joints, expansive in stature and in balance. These are the prerequisites for being healthily poised in relation to gravity while standing on two feet. Indeed it’s how all vertebrates are; free, expansive and in balance. The Alexander Technique is a practical method for regaining the same quality and we use the technique consciously in order to be more in control of ourselves and overcome our postural habits.
By improving your posture so that you are freer, more upright, expansive and in balance, you will also improve your breathing, clarity of thought, calmness in stressful situations and also have more commanding stature. You can function better on every level. As back pain slips away we also experience so many other unexpected.
So if you do suffer from back ache, there is really a lot that you can do. If you attend to the root causes of the problems, then you won’t get the painful symptoms and you’ll deal with the situation long term and avoid deterioration. There is lots of potential, lots of room for improvement, lots you can do. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Alexander Technique there is a lot of information on my site and links to societies of AT teachers world wide.