In 2001, I had been attending a physiotherapy clinic for many years where I was being treated on a regular basis (sometimes three times a week when the pain was at its worst) regarding my multiple musculoskeletal dysfunctions, which according to the physiotherapist’s report included:
Left and right sacroiliac joint
Lumbar spine vertebrae L2-L4 facet joints
Upper costovertebral joints of ribs one to eight
Cervical spine and bilateral facet joint dysfunction
The physiotherapist had said that she felt that, although I was a diligent patient and did all the exercises I was asked to do and I went swimming and tried to keep myself active, she did not think my body was responding as it should to physiotherapy and thought I should have a break.
Having fallen from a horse at age fourteen and landing awkwardly on my head, I had been suffering back pain since my early twenties. Pain became increasingly worse as I got older, especially after the birth of my two children. In my thirties I was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
Having tried physiotherapy, osteopathy, reflexology, acupuncture and a chiropractor, and also endeavouring to keep active with swimming, walking and Tai Chi, I was finding that the spells of being able to lead a normal life between attending physiotherapy sessions were getting shorter. I seemed to be spending more and more time dealing with severe and debilitating pain, at best suffering some pain on a daily basis.
My lifestyle was becoming more and more restricted. Doing the things I really wanted to do was not a reality anymore.
Having tried everything, I felt that I must be ‘doing something wrong’. I had found some information about the Alexander Technique and friends persuaded me to try some lessons. My main thought at the time was, 'This is my last chance to try to get rid of the back pain'.
With an open mind I attended my first lesson. I hobbled in and walked out with less pain. What were my first impressions? Having experienced the rigours of physiotherapy and a chiropractor, I was struck by the gentleness of the Technique. No rough handling and no pain! And better still I didn’t have to undress, something I had found very difficult in a physiotherapy session when doubled up in a great deal of pain!
From that first moment of experiencing ‘hands on’, it still amazes me how gentle but effective the Technique proves to be. I cannot describe adequately how I still feel when I lie in the semi-supine position. If for some reason I have to forego this at home I feel deprived!
It is a lovely memory for me, the first time I went on a long hill walk shortly after beginning the Alexander Technique. I followed my teacher’s advice to remember ‘head, neck and back’ as I walked and to be conscious of my body throughout the walk. The joy the following morning was to find that I had not only enjoyed a pain-free walk, but had not damaged myself in any way and was not suffering any pain!
My other joyful memory is of holding my newborn grandson for the first time, knowing that I would be able to be ‘an active and hands-on Grandma’. Seven years on, I never thought I would be playing football and tennis with him, but I do and it is tiredness, not excruciating pain, that results from the activity!
My lessons have changed my life. Yes, I still have times when my back can be a problem (it is usually when I have not remembered to be aware of my body and the Technique), but I now have the techniques at my finger tips to recover quickly, whereas before AT I would be restricted for months from any physical activities and there was always the fear that it could get worse! That fear has gone and been replaced with a much more positive outlook. AT has been life changing; it has also been life enhancing. I feel that, at nearly sixty-four, I am doing far more now than I did in my twenties!
Ten years on, I still look forward to my lessons and sometimes have to remind myself just what an incredible journey I have made and am still experiencing. I also realise how privileged I am to be able to continue with the Alexander Technique!
Thank you to the Alexander Technique and to my teacher for guiding me and giving me the opportunity to enjoy a full and active life without crippling pain.