Recent research bears out our observations. When we did a survey a few years ago about what our pupils valued the most about their Alexander lessons, the top answer was “getting out of pain” and the second answer was “knowing how to stay out of pain or get pain-free again”.
Rachel, a 38 yo mother and public servant wanted help with pain around her neck and shoulders. At her first visit, it was apparent that the level of tension in these areas in particular was very high. Rachel had limited range of movement in her head and neck, eg looking right or left. Interestingly, Rachel’s perception of the tension was very low. She just recognized the discomfort and the restricted movement. This experience has a basis in physiology; muscle receptors tend not to fire when a muscle is constantly held short.
Correcting misperceptions about key anatomical junctions (eg head/neck joint, hip joints) meant that Rachel was starting to send anatomically consistent messages to herself. With repeated and progressively more delicate hands-on guided experiences of releasing tight muscles in a coordinated way, along with sending the right messages, Rachel steadily eased and dismantled her pattern of tensing, shortening and narrowing in response to life’s daily stimuli. Underneath the old tense pattern was something closer to the ease and grace which we all tend to enjoy as children. Within about 12 lessons, Rachel had put a significant dent in her old habitual ways of moving and postural support, and was much more comfortable.