Alexander Technique Questions

Question: I’ll give RSI a call, see if they can help. I guess the treatment was NOT NHS? How much did it cost you per session??  How long did you have RSI before you were treated and do you have any info on risks of permanent damage to tendons etc., as I am beginning to wonder if it is too late for me?

Answer 1: The number for the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique is in the recovery bundle on my web site. There are a couple of other Alexander teaching societies – you should be able to find a local teacher through one of them.  If you are very lucky your GP may be able to refer you for Alexander technique.

Answer 2: I have a very similar thing in my right shoulder – it also causes pains in the right side of my neck and since using a keyboard I now have it spreading down my arm and in the centre of my hand… Anyway, I will be starting with a new physio next week so that hopefully will help but on Friday I went for a session of the Alexander technique and the results were instantaneous and amazing. Have you thought of trying it? ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE – QUESTIONS!!!  Does anyone know how to recognize a good teacher – mine is an MSAT which I took to be good? Also what is a usual price? And has anyone else experienced dizziness during the first session – the teacher said that I has ‘opened up’ so easily that my body was just a bit shocked – also good, I thought? I spent the rest of the session laid down stretching – I’m unclear about what happened but I know it helped my shoulder – how many times would anyone say you usually need to be able to achieve this yourself – is it just a question of establishing the new way of holding yourself?   Any comments would be very welcome

Answer 3: Do I get the impression you’re a fan of the Alexander Technique? ;-), It’s something I’ve considered. Is it worth having lessons, or can you learn it from a book?

Answer 4: I’ve had very good results from Alexander Technique. When I first got RSI, I went to a cranial-sacral therapist. My partner had already had good results from her. This got me through the initial crisis, and brought me to a level where I had pain and weakness, but things were not getting worse, and they were better than they had been at first. It was fairly clear to me that I had a big postural imbalance: my left shoulder was raised and forward, and that was leaving a muscle in my right shoulder in permanent spasm. This is the sort of thing that AT is good for: correcting the *underlying* problem. I was lucky to find a good teacher, and I’ve had very positive results, not just for RSI and my shoulders, by also for my standing posture (less tiring when waiting in a queue), and for my breathing. So I would recommend it, but perhaps there’s an important step of deciding if there is a postural problem that it can fix first. I would hope that a good practitioner could discuss this with you.

Answer 5: My experience with Alexander Technique has been very positive. Over the past few months, it has helped me cope with back problems, tension headaches, right shoulder and arm pains many of which are occupationally related – i.e. sitting at a computer for long periods. By encouraging the individual to observe herself, she can gradually learn natural ways of sitting, standing etc. and unlearn bad habits – unnatural posture when working at a VDU, when driving, when standing in the train, when carrying out household tasks, dealing with children, you name it.  I have also seen osteopaths, physiotherapists (including cranial) but have become convinced that the problems lie with how I go about my daily life. Aspects of the AT involve primary control and also ‘inhibition’ (not in the Freudian sense) – i.e. giving your body direction and stopping yourself from doing things in certain ways. It teaches you to breathe more naturally, releasing tension in the upper shoulder and neck areas.  Learning the AT is quite a commitment and it’s important to find a good teacher. But I believe it’s an investment in the future. It will improve the quality of your life and will provide a permanent solution to some of your problems whereas physiotherapy and osteopathy can only provide temporary relief.

Question 6: One of the best ways is to join a local RSI group and ask there. If you are in North London I can recommend an excellent teacher in Bounds Green.  Failing that, try to make sure that any teacher has experience of helping people with RSI, and call the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique on (0171) 351 0828 to check they are qualified. The STAT is also able to give you lists of local teachers.

Answer 7:Just a bit… Although it is just one of many treatments I tried, it is the one I continued for a long time for its general benefits for posture, back health, etc. You definitely do need to have lessons. A book may be useful to reinforce them but there are some subtle things to learn that really can’t be got from a book. Although the term ‘lesson’ is used, there is an element of gentle manipulation and arm/leg movement by the teacher, as well as more active practice of motions such as getting up and down from a chair, standing on tip toe, etc.  If the cost of lessons is an issue, you could probably just get a few individual lessons then join a group – ask your teacher for advice.

Answer 8: My Alexander Technique teacher is Shirley Oates. You can phone her on 0161 773 3395. Her email is shirleyoates@cwcom.net . AT has been very successful for me, which isn’t to say that it would work for everyone.  There were several reasons why I chose Shirley as my teacher, but the biggest is that she is one of the AT teachers at the Royal Northern College Of Music. Musicians have far more experience of dealing with RSI than anyone else and a huge investment in their skills. At the same time the demands they make on their bodies are especially traumatic. As a result, the anti-RSI tactics they adopt and the specialists they accept tend to be excellent – the word about who and what to use gets passed pretty fast on their grapevine.  AT takes time to learn, and it isn’t a targeted form of therapy specially for RSI. It takes on the whole body. In my case, this proved a very effective tactic as adjusting the use I make of my shoulders and neck has restored the use of my arms. (This makes a lot of physiological sense if you consider how the nerves for the arms are routed.) It’s also increased the flexibility of my spine wonderfully – I feel ten years younger than I did six months ago. (I’m only in my 30’s but my job carries a lot of stress.)  I’m dubious in the extreme about many forms of alternative therapy, but AT does have an excellent reputation and strict training standards (make sure a teacher is ATI or STAT approved). It is extremely gentle – I find it very hard to imagine how it could make things worse. Interestingly, it was my rheumatologist who suggested that I should find an Alexander teacher rather than take physiotherapy. He did warn me that teachers vary a lot in their approach, abilities (of course), interests, and attitudes. I’d suggest that finding out who local (classical) musicians use, from a training college or union or by word of mouth, and then choosing a teacher who you feel a click with from among that list is the way to go.  Besides being a great teacher, Shirley is also wonderful person.

Answer 9: If you have a look at http://www.stat.org.uk, they have lists of teachers in various areas of the country.

Answer 10: I gather there is more than one good Alexander Technique teacher in Reading. The one I go to is Ron Colyer (Green Road, phone 0118 926 1600). He is very experienced, he teaches other AT teachers and is also a music teacher. He was taught AT by FW Alexander’s assistant (whose name escapes me).

Answer 11: Some of you may have read my communication re: Alexander Technique and response from Sheila Smith – next question does anyone of a Teacher of the Alexander Technique in the South East. Even better if a teacher was able to respond!

Answer 12: Whereabout in the South East? I know a good one in Colchester but that is kinda bordering on East Anglia….

Answer 13: If you contact the association of Alexander Technicians (or whatever) or visit their website they’ll send you a list. URL escapes me at the mo’ – sorry. I have the list at home if you’re stuck.

Answer 14: Try ->

Answer 15: Telephone The Society of Teachers of Alexander Technique. They will send you a list.
0171 351 0828

Answer 16: Colchester is a little far away, but thanks for reply. I have to get back to someone in Blackheath area – that is within driving distance.

Answer 17: I did the Alex Technique for 6 months (1:1 with a teacher) and it was brilliant at keeping my RSI under control. Had I not continued mouse and keyboard work at the same time, I’m sure it would have had a chance to provide me with a cure from my “neck, shoulders, both arms” RSI. The relief from tension is amazing. It is a bit weird to start with and you wonder how a simple thing can have such a major effect, you do learn a lot about yourself. I’m thinking about starting again, maybe group classes, but I’m sure some of you’ll agree it’s always difficult to know where to put your money. I’m currently doing Pilates and Chiropractic which combined are good. To be honest I know I won’t be relieved until my voice recognition software arrives and then I’m sure I’ll stop doing myself such permanent damage and see some results for my investments.

Answer 18: The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique is at http://www.stat.org.uk/


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