The Royal College of Music professor found a solution in Alexander Technique
February 19, 2015
When did you notice the first symptoms?
I started suffering when I went to music college, back in 1972. I must have been doing something really badly because I had headaches, neck pain and numbness in the left side of my face. I couldn’t play for more than 30 minutes at a time, and it even interfered with my vision – the lines and dots would start to move around on the page.
What was it about your playing that caused the pain?
I suppose I used to throw myself at the instrument in a very dramatic way. People would sometimes comment that my playing was so visceral that it looked like I was wrestling with my instrument when I performed. I think now that my attitude was responsible for the pain and the place I wanted to go to try to ignore the pain.
What did you do?
I saw doctors and osteopaths to try to get to the bottom of what was wrong. I also decided that I needed to become fitter so I did a lot of running. I became aerobically fit but it didn’t help. Soon I began to consider whether I would have to give up any hope of a performing career.
by Madeline Rogers
Musicians are increasingly turning to alternative and preventive methods to stay healthy, recover from an injury, and to maintain lifelong wellness.
“No pain, no gain” is a mantra that aspiring athletes learn at an early age. So, too, do many budding musicians. Sore shoulders, tight necks, aching backs, and painful wrists have long been accepted as the price of entering the top ranks of the profession, but that attitude may be changing. A growing number of musicians are learning that playing through pain is not the best prescription for a long career, and that prevention is the best medicine. Increasingly, their quest for comfort, once conventional medical treatments have been exhausted, leads them to alternative methods.
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January 4, 2015
Try This Life-Changing Stress Hack for a More Relaxed 2015
Have you ever looked at a picture of Atlas, the mythological Greek figure carrying the weight of the planet on his shoulders and thought, Yeah, I can relate?
As an entrepreneur, it often feels like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
November 12, 2013
Alexander Technique proponent makes her students sit up and take notice
By Lenny Bernstein
Marian Goldberg grasps my head gently but firmly, her hands along my jawbones. Ever so slowly, almost imperceptibly, she helps me rise from a chair in her home office until I’m standing.
That one simple movement, which I probably do a dozen times or more every day, feels slightly different this time. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why, but it does.
The reason, Goldberg explains, is that this time I more closely approximated the way nature intended for me to get up. I didn’t shove off with my hands after hours of slumping over a computer. I didn’t lean forward with my torso and drag my lower half out of the chair. With my head and neck leading the way, I gathered myself a little better and stood up a little more naturally, one body part following another, working together, a bit more in balance.
20 September, 2012 | By The Press Association
A study was carried out for 11 months, exploring an Alexander Technique teaching service that was time-limited.
Those who suffer with chronic pain may find some relief through learning the Alexander Technique in NHS outpatient clinics, research found.
More than 50% of the service users who took part in a service evaluation project halted or reduced the medication they were taking between the day lessons began and for the following three months. This meant that the NHS saved on medication costs.
This was in addition to pain management options and took place in the Pain Clinic at Bristol’s St Michael’s Hospital.
The Somatics Infusion
Alexander in Motion
The question of whether the Alexander Technique is best experienced separately or in a dance class has been on Rebecca Nettl-Fiol’s and Luc Vanier’s minds. So much so that they co-wrote Dance and the Alexander Technique: Exploring the Missing Link, a guide that provides a clear blueprint to integrate Alexander principles into a dance or movement/somatics class.
February 7, 2012
Consultant advocates doctors be trained in Alexander Technique
A RETIRED west of Ireland consultant has advocated far greater awareness of the Alexander Technique in medical training and practice.
Ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon Kieran Tobin said he found the relief gained from the technique to be “quite incredible”, after he was treated for chronic neck problems. The technique purports to improve body posture and movement and relieve chronic stiffness, tension and stress.
Mr Tobin said he believes medical students should have far greater awareness of the technique’s many benefits.
A past president of the Irish Otolaryngological, Head and Neck Society and a past president of the Royal Society of Medicine’s ENT section, Mr Tobin was speaking at the publication in Galway last Friday of a new book on the subject by practitioner Richard Brennan.
Mr Tobin took early retirement from medicine. He hoped the change of direction would give him the opportunity to recover from serious neck problems which he had developed during his working years.
“This was not the case, and limitation of cervical [and thoracic] movement became quite an intrusion on my life,” he writes in the introduction to Brennan’s new book, Change Your Posture Change Your Life.
“Physiotherapy and medication gave only short-term improvement,” he says. “On being introduced to the Alexander Technique, I was somewhat sceptical that anything was going to work, but can only describe the relief gained, and maintained, as quite incredible.
Journal of the California Dental Hygienists' Association
Vol. 27, No. 2 Summer 2011
Learning to Work Pain Free – The Alexander Technique
by Dana Ben-Yehuda, M.AmSAT
As my dental hygienist bends over me and prepares to clean my teeth, I look up at her and relax in my chair. I can feel the soft cushioned pillow that she has placed behind my neck to ensure my comfort. As my thoughts turn to my caregiver, I wonder about her comfort. I watch as she leans over my body and stretches to turn on the water for me to rinse my mouth, and then bends back around to look at my x-rays. After reaching up to adjust the angle of the light, she makes minute repetitive movements to scale my teeth with careful precision. At the end of my appointment, I notice that as she stands up to say good bye, her hands go to her lower back, pressing inward as she arches to stretch.
Have you wondered how it would feel to have energy rather than low back pain at the end of a work day? As a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I know that dental hygienists can learn how to work pain free. The Alexander Technique is widely recognized in medical communities in the United States and abroad for its positive effects on pain relief. The Technique focuses on changing the postural habits that are often at the root of many physical aches and pains.
Sit Up Straight. Your Back Thanks You.
By LESLEY ALDERMAN
June 24, 2011
A CLASS IN POISE If you want a more systematic, long-term approach to posture change, consider the Alexander technique, a method that teaches you how recognize and release habitual tension that interferes with good posture.
Not all doctors in the United States are familiar with the technique, but recent research suggests that it can help with lower back pain as well as posture. A study published in The British Medical Journal found that lessons in the technique helped patients with chronic back pain. A 2011 study published in Human Movement Science concluded that the Alexander technique increased the responsiveness of muscles and reduced stiffness in patients with lower back pain.
Try one session to see if it’s for you. If so, consider committing to 10 lessons. Individual lessons cost $60 to $125, depending on the teacher’s experience. Insurers will not reimburse you; group lessons may be more affordable. To find a teacher, go to the Web site of the American Society for the Alexander Technique.
Healthy Manhattan: Body Movement Without Stress
Alexander Technique movement getting stronger after 140 years
April 27, 2011
By Paulette Safdieh
Our society is one where smart phones are constantly buzzing and almost everyone is trying to balance a demanding career with a social life. In all the hoopla, we often forget to take care of ourselves. Hunching over computers for hours or fretting over work, as any over-achieving New Yorker knows, will come back with a vengeance. The Alexander Technique, a way to relieve stress and muscle tension through a guided system, might prove to be some assistance.
Practitioners of this alternative method use hands-on and verbal instruction to tap into sources of fatigue and open up muscles. A standard class consists of everyday movements like sitting down, standing up, reaching and bending. Unlike in yoga and pilates classes, you don't have to be embarrassed by your tight hamstrings.
Alexander Technique Helps Reduce Chronic Back Pain
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
By CHRIS WHITLEY / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
Anna Zimmerman's back pain consumed her to the point she could not lift her arm for a month, which worried the aspiring violinist.
The 21-year-old University of North Texas student saw doctors who ran tests and prescribed medicine, but nothing relieved her suffering.
Two years ago, she paid a visit to Phyllis Richmond, who offered a remedy called the Alexander technique, a century-old method used often by performers to improve their posture and coordination. Since then, Zimmerman's pains have decreased and her movement has been restored.
AUA 2010 - The impact of the Alexander Technique in improving posture during minimally invasive surgery - Session Highlights
It has long been recognized that laparoscopy presents challenging ergonomic issues for the surgeon. Previous investigators have found that neck, shoulder and back pain in the surgeon can all be associated and related directly to laparoscopic surgery. Researchers from Cincinnati, Ohio utilized the Alexander Technique (AT) as a process of psychophysical re-education of one’s body in order to improve postural balance and coordination and to evaluate the efficacy of this in improving posture during the performance of laparoscopic surgery.
Human beings breathe an average of 17,000 breaths a day. But who's counting? It's a process we take for granted, yet experts say good technique can help us slow down breath and use it to control stress. They say the movement of breath should emulate sleeping babies — with the belly gently rising and falling.
The Stress Response
If you've ever been in your car when suddenly the person in front of you slams on the brakes, the typical reaction is to gasp — taking a quick in breath.
"It's a natural response," says Edward Bilanchone, a long-time instructor of breath and movement using the Alexander Technique. The quick inhale brings more oxygen in and sets off a flood of hormones that heighten our senses and help us respond quickly. "It helps us survive."
The trouble comes when chronic stress sets in. Under stress, a lot of interactions start to feel like near-collisions. "It becomes a part of us and we never release out of it," says Bilanchone. When we're stressed we may cheat the exhale or even hold our breath for moments. As adults, we can develop these bad habits that interfere with the natural rhythm of breath.