Posts Tagged ‘chronic pain’

The older I get, I continually encounter a common belief system that getting older means we are doomed to fall apart in terms of our health and wellbeing.  We are pounded from all sides by drug company commercials warning us of all kinds of symptoms that can be alleviated by their product.  (And the side effects of the drug can be worse than the original problem.)

But are we really meant to fall into such a state of disrepair that we must resort to medications and joint replacements and spinal fusions for the last 30 years of our lives?  From what I have learned over a 20 year teaching career in the Alexander Technique, I have to reply with a resounding “no” to that question.  Repeatedly, I find it is how a person is using him/herself that creates the quality and quantity of symptoms they experience.  

For example, a 74 year old man came to my practice with the following symptoms:  glaucoma (pressure on the eyes), high blood pressure, TMJ (jaw pain), and depression.  He was on medication for the high blood pressure and the glaucoma, and Advil for his pain.  

But when I looked at him from an Alexander point of view, i.e., how he was using his body, it was easy to see that there was a collapse in his chest and his shoulders were slumped.  This created a downward pull on his neck muscles up to his jaw, causing the extreme pain in that area. There was tremendous muscle tension in and around the eyes.  Would releasing this tension have any effect of this man’s symptoms?  

By directing him into a new way of using himself, he automatically stood up straighter.  His chest was now higher, and the release of the pull on his neck immediately relieved the pain in the jaw.  He was getting more oxygen to all parts of his system, allowing for the state of depression to lift, and his blood pressure returned to normal.  The release of his tension around the eyes brought his glaucoma eye pressure numbers down to the “normal” range.  Over a period of 10 weeks he went off the blood pressure medication, and went from 6 drops of eye medication to 1 drop .  

The changes this man experienced in one lesson – going from one foot into the grave into a state of well-being that seemed almost miraculous to him, are relatively common in my practice.  I tell all my clients: This is not a one time fix. Our identities are wrapped up in our physical habits and posture.  It takes repeated lessons to change one’s self, but I have seen it pay off for those willing to invest the time.  We are not doomed to illness if we are willing to learn to use our bodies as they were designed to function.

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