Body Awareness and The Alexander Technique

Most people’s idea of good posture is to tense the back almost to an arch! In doing so, they imagine the ‘stand to attention’ called out by a sergeant-major.

Trying to sit up or stand up straight like this tends to involve an overuse of muscles.

The spine has two natural curves that you must maintain. To force your spine out of its natural alignment day after day will almost certainly lead to back problems.

In fact, to obtain good posture, it is important not to tense muscles. Instead, you must improve your body awareness and re-educate your body to perform simple tasks efficiently.

Pilates and Alexander

Two men who led the way in improving body awareness are Joseph Pilates and F. Matthias Alexander. Due to problems with their own health, they made thorough investigations in how to improve the physical functioning of the human body.

To improve your posture and body awareness, you could consider taking classes on Pilates or the Alexander Technique. However, I can give you many of the key ideas for free – I shall be concentrating on the Alexander Technique in particular.

Let’s start with some basics.

The danger of over-correcting

Suppose you tend to sit at the computer with your back curved too much and your neck forward. You are likely to be tensing certain muscles in your back and neck unnecessarily to stay in this position for a long period of time.

If now, someone points out your fault, and tells you to avoid it, you are likely to try and overcorrect the error.

You might well arch your back in the other direction, and in doing so, use other neck and back muscles incorrectly.

The key to making changes is to do so in a gentle, unforced fashion. Otherwise your changes are likely to be counter-productive.

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