Changing The Way You Work: The Alexander Technique

Changing The Way You Work: The Alexander Technique is an interesting article from “Anvil” magazine about how Alexander Technique can apply to farriers – people who shoe horses. The photos & article are by Carol Prentice, the drawings are by David Gorman.

Photos from the article excerpted below.

Read the article in Anvil magazine.


before AT

Before: Farrier working at his anvil. Notice back curvature as he bends in the mid back to bring shoulders and head towards his work. This position puts strain on the mid back and lower back. The back of the neck is shortened as the head is pulled in towards the body. This posture produces tension in the shoulders and arms and interferes with the ability of the arms and hands to do work.

Before: Farrier working at his anvil. Notice back curvature as he bends in the mid back to bring shoulders and head towards his work. This position puts strain on the mid back and lower back. The back of the neck is shortened as the head is pulled in towards the body. This posture produces tension in the shoulders and arms and interferes with the ability of the arms and hands to do work.

After: The line of the back is more straight, and the head and neck continue the line of the back. The arms and shoulders have an "easy" look. Also, the weight is born more in the hips, glutes and legs, rather than by the mid and lower back.

After: The line of the back is more straight, and the head and neck continue the line of the back. The arms and shoulders have an "easy" look. Also, the weight is born more in the hips, glutes and legs, rather than by the mid and lower back.

8

Directive 1. (left) Before the Alexander Technique is applied. (right) Practicing the Alexander Technique. Allow the neck muscles to ease (free). Allow the head to go forward and up from the spine.

The drawing at left by David Gorman illustrates the relationship of the head and neck to the torso.

In the first (left-hand) picture, the head is pulled back and down by involuntary tension in the neck and shoulders. Note the compression of disks and vertebrae in the neck.

In the second (right-hand) drawing, following Alexander Technique guidance, the head is released forward and up, resulting in a lengthened neck free of unnecessary pressure on disks and vertebrae.

The “forward and up” direction of the head is essentially an inhibition of the unconscious action of pulling the head back and down. Once a person learns to stop involuntary tensing of the head, neck and shoulders, the spine and neck lenghten due to the natural postural reflex of the body.

So, rather than “doing” something with the head and neck, the individual is consciously inhibiting the detrimental effort of pulling the head back and down. One often experiences this inhibition of unnecessary detrimental effort as a “letting go”, or a “release”. In fact, the lengthened “forward and up” position is our natural postural state.

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