Tendinitis threatened my dissertation

A summer of endless typing threatened to derail my dissertation.

A summer of endless typing threatened to derail my dissertation. That's when I remembered about the Alexander Technique.

I first learned of the Alexander Technique in a graduate seminar, and probably would have never given it a second thought had I not been given a brief demonstration of it at that time–a time when I was in a great deal of physical pain.

For the demo I was seated in a chair and the Alexander teacher placed her hands on my neck and back, and gave me directions–suggestions for how to think about my body.

She guided me to standing and sitting back down a few times, and I was amazed at how differently my body felt in only a few minutes–somehow I was moving as if I were lighter. There was less effort in my movements (movements I would have considered effortless until I experienced the difference–but it put me in mind of my great aunt’s difficulty sitting down and standing vs. how I *thought of* myself (young and flexible) sitting and standing–the differences were that stark).

I decided to seek out Alexander lessons in hopes that they might help with what had been diagnosed as “tendonitis”–significant, debilitating, chronic pain I’d been having in my hands, wrists, and forearms after a summer of excessive typing. Because my job is/was to write, I was extremely concerned about this worsening pain.

At my first lesson, I was frustrated that “all we did” was sit and stand. I wanted something to specifically address my wrists and hands. But that first teacher began explaining to me that tension in other body parts, such as my back and shoulders, was affecting those other body parts–it was a lesson I’d need awhile to fully absorb, but one I can only barely remember not understanding now, it’s become so intuitive after Alexander lessons.

I eventually continued with fairly regular Alexander lessons for the next two years. I learned to better direct my body, to use it with less effort. It’s still a learning process–even Alexander teachers sometimes have lessons–but my pain has subsided almost completely (it only returns when I overuse my body in poor ways, ignoring what I’ve learned as a student of Alexander).

Leaving an Alexander lesson is very similar to leaving a massage, in that I feel extremely relaxed and happy, but it’s better because instead of relying solely on another person to alleviate tension that will inevitably return, I’ll have spent the last 30 or 40 minutes learning how to reduce and relieve that tension myself, with guidance.

I could also compare it to leaving a good yoga class, but the focus and one-on-one attention make it significantly different–Alexander lessons are very much keyed to the individual in the moment.

The Alexander Technique offers a kind of empowerment I haven’t experienced in any other type of pain-management or stress-reduction method, and I would (and have) recommend lessons to anyone for lasting health, and particularly to anyone experiencing chronic pain.

H., PhD, College Professor


2 Responses to “Tendinitis threatened my dissertation”
  1. Polprav says:

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  2. joegrohens says:

    Hi Polprav,

    Yes, go ahead.