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Alexander Technique Exercises for Back Pain

The Alexander Technique has been used worldwide for more than 100 years. It teaches awareness of postural habits for ease of mobility and relief of stiffness and pain. Usually taught in private lessons, the methods are occasionally presented in groups, according to the American Society for the Alexander Technique.

Exercising Your Awareness

The Alexander Technique works because it deals with changing harmful habits, such as excess muscular tension (especially in the neck and shoulders) leading to compression of the spine, according to Alexander teacher Mark Josefsberg. The technique teaches how to sit comfortably while using the computer, and move with ease in everyday activities. As awareness grows, new beneficial habits are formed.

Lying Down, Letting Go

Take five or 10 minutes a day to lie facing up on the floor with your head resting on a few inches of paperback books, advises Josefsberg. Have one or both feet on the floor, thinking of your knee or knees rising up toward the ceiling. Let yourself breathe slowly and fully, thinking of lengthening and widening.

Posture at the Computer

We create tension by poking the face and chest toward the screen. Instead, let your head lead your spine into length, instructs Josefsberg. Slightly lower your nose while the crown of your head moves up. Release your sit bones down into the chair. Now your spinal nerves have a little more room, like giving yourself gentle traction. Let yourself breathe fully and slowly. When you need to lean forward or reach for something, use your hip joints as hinges, rather than bending from your lower back.

Your Sit Bones

The sit bones are the U-shaped bones at the base of your pelvic girdle. When you sit up tall, you can feel your weight balanced on the sit bones. You want to be sitting on these bones rather than slumping and sitting on your tailbone or sitting up rigidly straight. Noticing where your weight is positioned, and not creating tension with your posture, can reduce or prevent back pain.

Training with a Toothbrush

Josefsberg recommends this technique for noticing habitual patterns. While brushing your teeth in a standing posture, feel your feet flat on the floor and your weight evenly balanced on them. Let your knees be unlocked and soft. Your neck is free, head is forward and up, using only the effort needed to raise the tooth brush, which weighs approximately … nothing. How little of your shoulder muscles need to be involved? How little arm can you use? Is your breathing restricted or full?

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About the Author

Ann Marina is author of "Preserve Your Brain" and has been writing/educating on natural health topics for 30 years. A certified brain fitness and yoga instructor, she holds a Bachelor of Science in speech and language from West Virginia University.

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