The whole self in recovery from injury

Posted by Jeanne Barrett on July 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Alexander Technique is, to put it most simply, an education in the use of the self.  The Alexander Technique does not diagnose or treat any specific symptom.  We are teachers, not therapists, and have no medical education.  Our job is to assist people in improving  both manner of use, and thus, indirectly condition of use, by offering the complex skill of dynamic non-interference, and a choice in response to stimulus.

As an Alexander Teacher who has experienced a dramatic injury and an ensuing long term recovery,  I can view the benefits of Alexander skills from a very personal viewpoint.  My education as a teacher gives me a valuable perspective of the whole elastic response, whether ideal or disrupted by injury, as key in recovery from injury.  The Alexander Technique could not in any way heal my knee directly, nor address compensatory muscle patterns in a direct manner.  The Alexander Technique is always indirect in solutions.  Improving the harmonious balance in response, and the manner of response with the entire self, has the potential to improve the condition of self.  Even with my diminished and very challenged condition of self post injury, I was able to return to teaching in a short amount (two weeks!) of time.  We can make the best of even  very difficult coordination challenges with a wide attention to entire use, rather than specific attention to fixing of parts. Indeed, specific fixing of parts limits overall response, and thus overall recovery.

My recent experience of severe foot pain illustrated these principles.  Although I could have attended primarily to the painful foot, I knew that the location of discomfort and the cause of discomfort are rarely the same. After I calmed my panic and distress, I realized that my foot was simply the weakest part of a system that had become unbalanced.  Since I was born with an inwardly rotated leg, my pelvic support and leg-back coordination has always been compromised.  After years of studying and teaching the Alexander Technique, this imbalance had improved to quite functional levels.  The patella fracture, and the ensuing leg brace, had renewed my original imbalance to a marked degree.  There are limits in what I can ask of my neuro-muscular system, even with best possible use. My foot expressed imbalance to a painful degree.  Other assistance to re-establish a level of structural integrity was needed.  Thus, I have sought intelligent Physical Therapy, osteopathy, and the integrated exercise approach of Gyrotonic.

The Alexander Technique cannot solve every physical difficulty, nor is it intended to do so.  Compatible disciplines that assist in shifting structural interference, combined with Alexander skills, yield results that are comprehensive.

I might not be walking at all, whether my injury had occurred or not, but for Alexander skills of intention and attention with the whole self.  And that being said, finding professionals with Alexander compatible awareness of the entire self in response have been necessary for continuance of recovery.  In the big picture, all are interwoven, integrated and necessary.  Attention to the whole self is key, and indirect solutions work best.

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