The Technique is of general benefit to everybody, giving increased vitality, lowering stress and making you more at ease with yourself. But many people come to the Technique because of specific ailments, such as:-
back pain/Chronic neck ache
The Technique gradually reverses this vicious circle by making you more aware of how you are balanced. Once you get into a good balance, you can let go of habitual tension, and the muscles re-adapt to a more harmonious way of operating as a system.
Osteo-arthritis and rheumatic pain
Chronic patterns of tightness in the muscles tend to compress the joints, because the bones on either side are being pulled inwards. Over a long time, this compression can gradually erode the protective cartilage, leading to arthritic pain. The pain itself often sets up more muscle tension, exacerbating the compression further. The Technique can reverse this process by making you more aware of where you are tightening unnecessarily, and showing you how you can use your body differently to put less pressure on these areas.
Recovery from invasive surgery
By cutting through muscle tissue, surgery weakens them temporarily. During the healing process, the whole muscle system has to compensate for the ones that are not pulling their weight, and some other muscles start to work harder. This can easily turn into a habitual pattern, so that even when function is restored to the cut muscles, the asymmetry has become fixed. The Technique makes you more aware of being out of symmetry and helps to spread the load of everyday work and movement more evenly over all your muscles.
Sciatica is characterised by a nerve in the lower back becoming pinched or trapped by surrounding muscle. The Alexander Technique, by easing excess tension in the back and altering the habitual way in which the muscles lie in relation to each other, can ease the pressure off the nerve, allowing it to settle back into its proper position.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Repetitive Strain Injury can be caused by any action repeated time and time again, but these days is most commonly associated with keyboard work, which can produce a form of RSI known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Excess tension in the forearm muscles which activate the typing fingers leads to inflammation of the tendons in the area of the wrist, and this swelling can then stop the free movement of the tendons through the narrow area of the wrist leading to the hand. Mothers sometimes experience Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as a symptom of pregnancy. The Technique can gradually reduce the excess tension, and prevent future inflammation by changing one's working posture so as to integrate the muscle groups of the arm with the muscle groups of the back, letting go of undue tightness in the armpit which often prevents the back and arms from working as an integrated unit.
Tennis Elbow (epicondylitis)
This is an inflammation of the nerves and tendons around the medial epicondyle (elbow), often caused by a jarring stop to a movement of the forearm, as in playing a backhand shot at tennis. The elbow can become so sensitive that even the stress from a mildly jarring movement aggravates the inflammation, so the area never gets a proper chance to recover. The Technique, by easing pressure on the joints (in this case, the elbow joint), allows more space for the nerves and tendons passing over the joint. More generally, letting go of excess habitual tension helps to spread the stress of movements more evenly through the many muscles of the arm, so the inflamed area gets more chance to recover.
This happens when the muscles of the shoulder go into a pattern of spasm, sometimes as a result of the shock of a fall or accident. This is often characterised by nerves becoming constricted under the tight muscles, causing extra pain, which then perpetuates the spasm. The Technique, by breaking down the habitual patterns of muscle use throughout the body, brings about favourable conditions for breaking the vicious circle of pain and tightness and restoring co-ordinated use.
Although seemingly accidental, sports injuries may be the result of habitual patterns of stress in your body being pushed temporarily beyond their limit of tolerance. Although you may recover satisfactorily, the systemic weakness which caused the injury remains, and may result in a similar thing happening again. The Technique aims to make you more aware of where your patterns of stress are, and modify the way you balance and move so as to obviate that weakness.
Pressure on the larynx, through over-tightness in the muscles of the neck, can cause hoarseness or reduced vocal quality, especially in actors and singers. The Technique helps you learn to keep the head nicely in balance, and so reduce the work your neck muscles have to do. It also reduces pressure caused by tightening in the chest and back, freeing the ribcage and diaphragm so the rhythm of breathing becomes smoother and you get more air at each breath.