Understanding How Use Affects Function

The Alexander Technique teaches you how to use your body and mind more effectively to perform activities with less strain and greater efficiency. The principle on which it stands is that 'use affects function.'

What Does "Use Affects Function" Mean?

In the context of the Alexander Technique, "use" refers to the manner in which you employ your body, and thinking, in various activities—whether sitting, standing, walking, or engaging in more complex tasks. It's the quality of your awareness in activity as you look to maximize support and minimize interference. "Function" pertains to how well your body performs these activities. The premise is simple: the way you use your body, your habitual ways of moving, thinking, and reacting, your 'use', directly impacts your functional efficiency and overall health. Poor use can lead to under-performance, pain, and injury, while improved use can enhance your well-being.

Breaking the Cycle of Habitual Misuse

Many of us are stuck in a rut of habitual misuse, whether it's a repetitive strain injury, chronic back pain, stress, or the inability to perform at our best in various activities. The Alexander Technique offers a way out of this vicious cycle by encouraging self-awareness and guidance, leading to improved quality of movement and thought.

Education Over Therapy

The Alexander Technique differs from other modalities, or "treatments", by taking an educational rather than a therapeutic approach. It doesn't aim to "fix", "mend" or "heal" you through treatment, but instead educates you to develop self-awareness and change your habits of use. This approach can create the best possible general conditions in the body and mind, maximizing your personal availability. It's helpful to mention here that the the mind and body are considered a functional whole. They're not simply connected, but an inseparable psycho-physical unity, or a Self for short. As such, Alexander lessons are as much about changing the quality of your thinking in activity. In fact, "thinking in activity" is a common way to describe the Alexander Technique.

woman carrying a heavy box with good use
Any activity can be performed more efficiently with good use.

The Role of the Teacher

An Alexander Technique teacher doesn't tell you what to do to move "correctly". Instead, we guide you through a process of self-discovery, helping you to identify and change your habitual patterns of use. This process encourages agency and self-empowerment, and puts you in the driving seat, leading to a significant improvement in how you function in your daily activities.

The Impact of Poor Use

Misuse manifests in various ways, such as: 

  • Muscular Tension: Poor posture and inefficient movement patterns create unnecessary muscular tension. This can lead to discomfort and chronic pain.
  • Joint Strain: Misaligned posture places undue stress on joints, increasing the risk of injury and degenerative conditions.
  • Restricted Breathing: Slouching or collapsing the torso impedes the natural function of the diaphragm, leading to shallow breathing and reduced oxygen intake.
  • Reduced Coordination and Balance: Inefficient use of the body can impair our balance and coordination, affecting both everyday activities and athletic performance. 

Benefits of Improved Use

 When you improve the way you use your self, you unlock numerous benefits: 

  • Pain Relief: Many people find relief from chronic pain and tension as they adopt more efficient movement patterns.
  • Enhanced Performance: Athletes, musicians, and performers often experience improved precision and endurance.
  • Better Posture: Improved use naturally leads to better posture, which in turn supports overall health and well-being.
  • Increased Energy: Reducing unnecessary muscular tension conserves energy, leading to greater vitality and stamina.
  • Mental Clarity: The process of mindful movement fosters a sense of calm and focus, enhancing mental clarity and reducing stress.

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