So you've tried traditional therapies, but after some temporary relief the pain always returns. And it's not like you don't know what causes you so much discomfort, it's the hours sat at the computer every day at work, but a career change hardly seems like a practical solution. It's bad enough that it affects your work life, but when pain also starts to affect your hobbies you know it's time to take action.
Everyone knows how to sit, right? Right?! It's not like you haven't been doing it all your life. Yet you have a suspicion that you could do it better, if only it wasn't so much effort. Your employers provided you with a DSE workstation assessment, an ergonomic chair, keyboard and mouse as well as silicon filled supports to rest your wrists on, all to no avail. Maybe if you had a more expensive ergonomic chair, all would be well.
It doesn't have to be this way!
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What is missing from this equation? What's the only thing that hasn't changed? Have you changed? Take another look at all this equipment that's causing you so much pain, the chair, keyboard and mouse. Keep watching them. Have they done anything yet? What do you mean "they're inanimate objects!"? So how are they causing you harm?
OK, enough already (as our American cousins would say), I'll get off your case now, you get the picture. The only thing doing anything is yourself and so that is logically what you need to change. Although without knowing what it is you are doing in the first place that might seem like a tall order.
But help is at hand, the Alexander Technique allows you to strip away all your unconscious 'doings' and start again in neutral gear, preventing the habits you've built up over your life from getting the better of you.
How is Alexander Different?
Your symptoms are not a natural by-product of ageing, or gravity, but a wake-up call that you are unconsciously doing something harmful to yourself, something you can also learn to undo, leaving you free to enjoy your life and increase your performance and productivity.
Alexander Technique enables you to be an Application Support specialist for your Self. Notice I didn't say your 'body', we are way more complex and interesting than that!
Going to a therapist to fix your pain is like rebooting your computer instead of reinstalling the software. Better still, the Alexander Technique allows you to rewrite the software altogether.
Yes, it's my favourite Snake Oil solution for just about everything, but WHY is Alexander Technique so universally useful? Think of the skill of learning A.T. like learning to read. After you know how to read, you can apply that skill to reading any content you’re interested in. In the same way, you can apply the Alexander Technique to any activity.
If I may return quickly to the ergonomic chair, I've noticed that the more expensive the chair, the more folks expect it to take responsibility for them, and I'm sure you see now that office furniture can't take responsibility for you. Good design and set-up of your workstation does of course provide advantages (and I'll cover this in a later blog), but not guarantees . You need to provide your own guarantee.
If you think this all sounds either too good to be true, or too hard work, I spent 12 years working in I.T. for Investments Banks and Stock Brokers, which, as you can imagine, is a highly demanding environment. I fully understand the stress that work commitments place on you and how it contributes to your problems, and it was the Alexander Technique that saved me from chronic neck, shoulder and wrist pain.
Within a couple of months of weekly Alexander lessons, the pain I was suffering with was largely resolved and I continued to have lessons for many years even after finding relief from my physical problems, because I found the technique so fascinating and useful. Not only did my balance, coordination and posture continue to improve, but I found myself much calmer, and able to handle stressful, demanding situations much better and with more clarity. It also helped to improve the performance of my hobbies, running and playing the guitar. The latter had been hugely affected by being sat at a computer all day, but with the undue tension gone my playing became much freer.
Ultimately I became so fascinated with the technique that I decided to train to teach it, and I'm confident that it can help you too.
You can also rest assured that it's a clinically proven method, an NHS funded trial produced such good results for back pain that in January 2016 the National Institute for Clinical Excellence will be including the Alexander Technique for the treatment of it.
If sport is your thing, why not check out the lower back pain advice from FitnessVolt ...
Come and find out if the Alexander Technique is the solution you were looking for. You've got nothing to lose but your pain!
Please feel free to contact me for a no obligation chat to see how the Alexander Technique can help you too.
Write a comment
Imogen Ragone (Sunday, 21 September 2014 15:35)
Adrian, what a fabulous first blog post. I couldn't agree more with everything you say. I wrote a blog post a while ago entitled "Human Ergonomics" in which I pretty much say the same thing as you - that while your work station set up can be helpful, the WAY you sit and organize your own body is by far the most important factor in your comfort and injury-prevention. Alexander Technique gives us both the skills to get rid of habits of tension and posture that cause us harm, and the ability to maintain a more comfortable, and productive, easy poise.
adrianfarrell (Sunday, 21 September 2014 16:57)
Thanks Imogen, and I remember your blog, feel free to post a link. It's a shame that the Alexander Technique often seems to be viewed as something actors and performers use, where as we both come from outside of that world and recognise that it's just as applicable to everyday tasks at work and home. Naturally, we "perform" even mundane tasks.
Harriet Saunders (Sunday, 21 September 2014 18:04)
This is a very helpful practical explanation - I love the comment that the office furniture can't take responsibility for you! Thanks for taking the time to put this out there, and generosity in sharing it.
Imogen Ragone (Sunday, 21 September 2014 19:56)
Here's the link to my blog, Adrian: http://www.imogenragone.com/ergonomics-for-the-human-body/ - I guess the actual title is "Ergonomics for the Human Body"
And yes, Alexander Technique is for everyone, not just performers. I think for anyone who uses a computer regularly the Alexander Technique is invaluable.
Don Higdon (Sunday, 21 September 2014 20:06)
I think a major problem with ergonomic chairs is that they get adjusted to the user's concept of comfort, which only serves to support and continue the user's habitual misuse of himself. Habits are unconscious, which is why we can't recognize them within ourselves. (Enter the Alexander teacher...)
Don Higdon (Sunday, 21 September 2014 20:38)
By the way, "rebooting the computer" is a great metaphor since it's a contemporary, widely shared experience.
adrianfarrell (Sunday, 21 September 2014 22:04)
Don, that's a really good point regarding the way people will set up their ergonomic chair, really obvious in retrospect, but I hadn't considered it before, thanks.
Robert Rickover (Monday, 22 September 2014 04:21)
Great post Adrian! I hope to see many, many more.
I think Alexander wrote something to the effect that chasing after the "perfect chair" was a waste of time - instead it would make sense to learn how to sit well in ANY chair - using his Method, of course:)
Kay (Tuesday, 23 September 2014 12:48)
So clearly explained Adrian... and particularly lik ethe video... thanks
Gero Montagna (Saturday, 13 December 2014 12:11)
I recently took a lesion with Adrian and it really opened up my eyes to how my posture effects my body. I have had lower back pain for 12 years and suffer with a tight neck and tight hamstrings on a regular basis. I have spent thousands on a chiropractor treating the symptoms of my lifestyle but never looked at the cause of why I suffer with these problems. Just one lesion with Adrian helped understand that how I use my body when I not doing anything can dramatically effect muscle tension. Just half an hour with him and my neck felt looser just by learning to change very small habits. Adrian said he teaches you to do nothing when you are resting and let me tell you that it’s very difficult to do. If you suffer with back problems like me then I would highly recommend you speak to Adrian to get a second opinion on your options.
adrianfarrell (Saturday, 13 December 2014 21:37)
That's great Gero, a change in your thinking really can have profound results. As you mentioned, doing nothing whilst resting is surprisingly tricky, so it's easy to see how doing the minimum required for any given activity is an even trickier business.
Ana (Sunday, 22 February 2015 12:12)
I can't sit at my desk for longer than an hour without getting very uncomfortable especially around my neck. However, if i take my laptop to bed and sit there with a couple of pillows behind my back I can sit all day and I'm fine. I think it has to do with my posture but I am spending most of my days in bed because of this which is not ideal.
adrianfarrell (Sunday, 22 February 2015 12:28)
Hi Ana, Keep reading through the blogs and hopefully they will give you further food for thought n how to sit properly and improve your posture. But actually, an hour is as long as you should expect to sit at your computer at a time. My next blog is in fact going to be about how to break up your working day so that you're not committed to being sat at your computer all day.