F. M. Alexander Technique Michael Hardwicke B.Sc. PGCE STAT
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The Role of the Alexander Technique in Back Care.
By Michael Hardwicke.

The Alexander Technique has a great deal to say about the care of your back. Its primary message is that your spine is your essential support structure. All your functioning depends on this structure performing its role in an elastic, natural way. You learn how to release the muscles of your spine and go about your tasks in ways which don't just allow your spine to work well but actually enhances it's role. Back care is more than just knowing how to bend and sit well. These things are important but unless the structure that does the bending and sitting is set up with released and naturally toned muscle, bending and sitting can still lead to discomfort and strain.

The Alexander Technique teaches that your spine supports you and your legs, arms etc. provide movement. It teaches you how to get the muscles that run down the length of your spine (extensor muscles) released and able to act with good tone in them. These muscles keep you upright in a natural, elastic way and this uprightness is possible with a great deal less effort than most people imagine. This allows your arms, legs and the front of your structure to move more freely without trying to support you. Set up likes this then you can move with much less strain.

When you come to bend and sit you need to be clear about the job of the hip joint and knee so the whole spine can continue to support you in these activities. When you have this understanding, bending in this sort of way actually strengthens your back extensor muscles. So you are not just avoiding problems but enhancing body use.

In the Alexander Technique you learn to let your spine's natural ability to keep you upright work in an easier way, so that good back care can start before you begin to move. This ease in being upright has evolved over millions of years so that your back is under much less strain when you do use it. The Alexander Technique places great emphasis on this natural state of poise. 'Poise' well describes the ability to be ready to act with efficiency and without unnecessary muscular effort. So you begin to achieve good back care by learning from the Alexander Technique both the 'getting ready' to act as well as the 'how' to act.

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  Michael Hardwicke
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