Tag Archives: Back Pain

Is Your Body Screaming “HELP MEEEEEEEE”?

Chronic ongoing pain is of course the most obvious sign.  But there are other not-so-subtle messages your body gives you when it needs more care and attention.  

Anxiety

Dislike of you own body

Sleeplessness
Exhaustion
An Inability to Relax
Fidgetiness
Grouchiness or Short Temper
No Desire to Socialize
No Desire to Get Out of Bed
Can’t Exercise 
And more….

The biggest problem I observe is that most people are not listening to the screams or cries for help from their bodies.  They push through, take pain medications, don’t rest, work harder and scream back a their bodies.   

This aggressive approach to the body does not heal pain.  Your kinesthetic sense, aka your body awareness, is a messenger.  If you are in the habit of not listening to your body, you will only become aware of hurting yourself at the end of the day when you are tight, can’t move, and even breathing feels difficult.  

Sooo… What’s the solution, Sharon? (Click on the photo for a video demonstration

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In every Alexander Technique session, I have my clients spend time in Semi-Supine position (laying on back with knees bent). During this time, my client is learning how to listen to their body, how to quiet and calm the nervous system, anyhow to release muscular tension related to their response to pain.  

Semi-Supine is supportive of a long spine and a balanced body.  This makes learning to listen to your body easier.  Sometimes, just in the act of spending quiet, still, awake time with your own body, pain messages can quiet down and you experience stress relief as well.  Ignoring the “screams” from your body ensures that your body will get “louder” meaning stronger pain sensations and more discomfort.

Alexander Technique offers a kinder and gentler approach to the body.  You learn to move gently and with mindfulness.  You learn to be aware of how you are moving your body and how you are holding painful patterns of tension so that you can release them.  With the gentle hands-on guidance, you learn to soothe yourself and soothe your body.

As you go through your day, take the time to STOP and listen to your body.  Follow your body’s guidance. It is time for a kinder, gentler approach to our bodies.  If this sounds right to you, then sign up for our free video series:

As you go through your day, take the time to STOP and listen to your body.  Follow your body’s guidance. It is time for a kinder, gentler approach to our bodies.  If this sounds right to you, then sign up for our free video series:

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91% of Women Hate Their Bodies

My work in teaching Alexander Technique has given me deep insight into the attitudes that people have towards their bodies.   Throughout sessions, I ask my clients “What are you noticing in your body?”  Inevitably, EVERYONE, men and women, share some sort of negative body image.  

I have worked with people who have scoliosis, vocal issues (like spasmodic disphonia), fibromyalgia, nerve damage, eating disorders, arthritis, anxiety, chronic pain, asthma, depression, and much more. The ONE COMMONALITY is that each f them have a “thing” that evokes shame and embarrassment about their bodies.  This negative body image evoke stress about our bodies which causes tension, impaired breathing and gripping.  

So… when I saw Taryn Brumfitt’s movie trailer titled “EMBRACE,” I nearly flipped and screamed.  I am always guiding my clients to a more loving attitude towards their bodies.  I have also dealt with my own body shame and disgust towards my own body.  In order to shift my own attitude and my clients’, I am sharing this trailer.  

WATCH THE EMBRACE TRAILER NOW 

EMBRACE movie trailer

EMBRACE – Official Trailer: Join Taryn Brumfitt’s global journey to change the way we feel about our bodies.

EMBRACE will premiere at Sydney Film Festival Sunday June 12. Come along and embrace everyBODY: http://bit.ly/1ZCkFY1
‪#‎Ihaveembraced‬

CAST: Ricki Lake, Mia Freedman, Turia Pitt, Stefania Ferrario, Melinda Tankard Reist, The Bearded Dame.

Now is the time to transform how we feel about our bodies!  When you are aware of the negative impact of not cherishing your body just the way it is, you will never want to think a hurtful thought again about your most precious possession.  In Alexander Technique sessions, I encourage a loving, gentle, and kind approach to the body which soothes the nervous system and quiets the stress response.

If you are ready to transform your relationship to your body,  sign up for our free video series below:

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Fear & Stress Maintain Most Chronic Back Pain

I read an article last week published in Harvard Health Publications that caught my attention.  Recent studies have been fine that most chronic back pain is not associated with injury or disease, but more closely associated with our thoughts, emotions, and the behavior that follows.

There simply isn’t a close connection between the condition of the spine and whether or not people experience pain. Research has shown that a majority of people who have never had any significant back pain have the very same “abnormalities” (such as bulging or herniated spinal discs) that are frequently blamed for chronic back conditions. And then there are the millions of people with severe chronic back pain who show no structural abnormalities in their back at all.

On top of this, it turns out that people in developing countries, who do back-breaking labor and don’t have easy access to medical treatment, have much fewer incidents of chronic back pain than people in the developed world who sit in ergonomically designed chairs, sleep on fancy mattresses, and have ready access to spinal imaging, surgery, and medications.

                                                                               -“Mind Over Back Pain” Harvard Health Publications, Ronald D. Siegel, Psy.D.

The article goes on to say that clinicians and researchers have been looking into the psychological causes of pain and in a landmark study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that both mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are both effective solutions for relieving chronic back pain.

 

This thrilled me as an Alexander Technique teacher.  When a client comes to me for Alexander Technique sessions due to back pain, there are often some surprising revelations that a back pain sufferer discovers.  Often, the development of the kinesthetic sense, or body awareness, gives my clients the ability to observe painful patterns of tightening and tensing muscles, destablilizing their posture and holding their breath in response to pain.  The tensing of muscles and holding of the breath worsens the pain.

 

Then also become highly aware of their emotional response to pain.  Frustration, fear, worry, anger, despair are all emotions that Nervous Wrecklead to chronic clenching of the neck, jaw, fists, chest, upper back, and abdominal muscles.  The clenching of these muscles leads to more pain.  (There has been a study published that demonstrated that Alexander Technique and acupuncture unravel neck pain as well)

 

In Alexander Technique sessions, we even start to identify habitual emotional responses to pain.

 

So many of my clients get angry at themselves when they are in pain.

Anger leads to more clenching.  More clenching leads to more pain.  Becoming aware of emotions like anger and aware of the impact anger has on the body is essential for releasing the emotions and releasing the body.

There have been numerous clients who, once they release the musculature around the belly, low ribs, and diaphragm, they cry deeply and loudly.  I encourage the crying and the emotional release.  Letting go of old emotions that get stored in the body leads to pain relief, stress relief, and complete liberation of breathing.  It takes an extraordinary amount of muscular effort to hold these emotions in the body.

The Harvard Health article recommends reading books about mindfulness and CBT or visiting a pain clinic where they are offered.  You can also look into the mindfulness training of Alexander Technique during which you become highly aware of your body and your body’s responses, and then, learn how to release those painful patterns and calm your SELF, you nervous system, and your musculature.

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You are Sitting Too Much and It’s Killing You

On average, most of us are sitting about 9.3 hours a day.  Unfortunately, sitting this much has many negative side effects.  I often tell my Alexander Technique clients that these bodies we live in are not built for sitting in one position for hours at a time, but are designed for moving.

 

IMG_0148sm-225x300With the rise of the computer and smart phone and driving in traffic, we have even more reason to passively sit when we are done with work.

 

I teach my clients how to sit well when they are at the computer or at a desk.  However, no matter how well you sit, sitting as much as we do, we are inevitably hurting ourselves.
One of my clients who came to me for back pain, sent the video you see below. This video demonstrates how we are built for moving and describes what happens to you not only your spine but also your brain when you are inactive.


(Lesson by Murat Dalkilinç, animation by Oxbow Creative.)

IMG_2384

 

Lessons in the Alexander Technique, can help you sit well with a long supported spine. Your diaphragm, ribs, and lungs can move easily with your breath. You are no longer compressing your internal organs.  Most importantly, you also learn to listen to
your bodies’ signals telling you to get up and move.

Another client of mine, who works at the computer, believed that something was wrong with his back and neck because he couldn’t sit at his computer for hours at a time without feeling like he needed to move. I reassured him that, since he is paying more attention to his body and hearing his body’s signals to get up and move, his body and kinesthetic sense were improving, giving him more accurate information about what his body needs.

 

Too much sitting is also associated with diabetes, heart disease, electrical activity cutting off to your legs, fewer calories being burned, and much more.

 

So please… Notice how much time you spend sitting.  Listen to your body when you feel like you want to move.  It’s the only body you are ever going to get.  Sign up for “5 Ways to Instantly Reduce Stress” 

 

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Is Aging Affecting your Walk? Walk like you are young again

Recenlty, a study was published in The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies that compared older Alexander Technique practitioners to other age-matched adults.

 

In summary,

“The Alexander Technique (AT) seeks to eliminate harmful patterns of tension that interfere with the control of posture and movement and in doing so, it may serve as a viable intervention method for increasing gait efficacy in older adults. The purpose of this study was to compare the comfortable pace gait kinematics of older AT practitioners with those of healthy, age-matched controls. Participants were six licensed AT practitioners and seven healthy age-matched controls between the ages of 63 and 75. During the stance phase, AT participants exhibited significantly greater ankle stance range of motion (ROM) and plantar flexion at toe off, as well as lower ROM of the trunk and head compared to controls. During the swing phase, the AT practitioners had significantly increased hip and knee flexion and a trend toward significantly increased dorsiflexion. The findings suggest that the older AT practitioners walked with gait patterns more similar to those found in the literature for younger adults. These promising results highlight the need for further research to assess the AT’s potential role as an intervention method for ameliorating the deleterious changes in gait that occur with aging.”

I have witnessed so many of my clients who older and wiser, completely change how they walk, sit, stand, and move through life.  Before they took, Alexander Technique lessons, they walked with their head forward of their spine, their chest compressed, and their leg joints stiffened.

Alexander Technique lessons give you the “tools” to unravel old patterns of tension and movement that have you walk like you are much older.  Aging does not have to be a sentence to hunching over and stiffening your body.  My clients have freed up their breathing, relieved back pain, and opened up their posture.  All of which has impacted their confidence.

 

Walking like a young person doesn’t require a fountain of youth.  It requires mindfulness, awareness, and training.

NBC News Airs Segment on Alexander Technique in San Diego

If you have wondered about Alexander Technique, how it works, or how it can help you with pain, strain, and stress, this segment on NBC San Diego interviewing my colleague Eileen Troberman is fantastic!

 

So many people put up with pain AND they love what they do.  It is possible to do what you love AND not be in pain!

 

In this segment, musicians who have trained in the Alexander Technique share how this work and transformed their lives.  My clients have also been film editors, directors, producers, lawyers, writers, comedians, actors, doctors, and musicians.

 

Watch and SHARE this comprehensive overview of Alexander Technique and its many benefits!

 

 

I’m a certified teacher in Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing


Sunday January 5 I completed Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing Certification for Alexander Technique teachers.  This training is only for Alexander Technique teachers who have taught for at least 5 years.

The training focused on breathing coordination and the redevelopment of the diaphragm integrated with the Alexander Technique.

What brought me to Alexander Technique 15 years ago was chronic and excruciating hip and low back pain which I now know was associated with scoliosis.

I didn’t have extreme scoliosis but enough of a curve in my spine which led to tension, stress, and pain.  This pattern of tension and pain led to  a myriad of downward pulls that cranked my shoulder up to my neck, curved my spine and ribs to the right, and yanked my left ribs down into my left hip and leg.

Unconsciously, these habits hindered my free breath and the development of my ribs and diaphragm.

I had worked with Jessica in workshops and every time I FELT the curves and twists of my spine and the asymmetry throughout my ribs.  With just a taste of freedom and release throughout my spine, ribs, and hips, I could tell that my left low back and ribs had the potential to move and release.

There was  an old pattern of collapse and rigidity that was interfering with my vital capacity (the amount of air that can be taken in by the lungs).  Unravelling the torque in my spine altered not only my physical state, but also my emotional and psychological experiences.

During one of my last sessions with Jessica, my left low back and ribs started to move not because I was doing something or forcing them to move but because I stopped gripping and tightening the muscles that were chronically locking my ribs and low back.

What an overwhelming sense of bliss.  I experienced energy or a feeling of a vibration tingling from my back down my leg.  My stress levels dropped and I felt a connection to my self and my sense of well-being.  What a relief!

I have been a AmSAT certified Alexander Technique teacher for 10.5 years and now I am integrating Jessica Wolf’s Art of Breathing into my work with clients who want a powerful and pain free body, a resonant voice.

Redeveloping the diaphragm and bringing conscious awareness to breathing coordination can help people suffering from respiratory difficulties like asthma or emphysema or unleash the power and resonant voices of actors, lawyers, or public speakers.

For more information regarding breathing coordination and Alexander Technique, email info@AlexanderTechniqueLA.com.

 

Damaging Mistakes People Make with Breathing

I just finished an Alexander Technique session with a client who is returning to lessons after about a year. He has been experiencing lower back pain. What stood out to me while we were catching up was not only how he was carrying his head forward of his body but also that he was working very hard to breathe in and then holding his breath.

When I asked him what he noticed when he was inhaling, he recognized that he was lifting his shoulders and tightening his neck. After he breathed in, he identified the huge amount of muscular effort he used to hold the breath in. His leg muscles tightened. His abdominal muscles clenched. AND, His lower back was overly arched and gripped. This habit made his lower back hurt.

I then showed him the video below:

He was able to see that his neck and shoulders were not supposed to work in order to receive breath. I put my hands around the bottom edge of his ribs so he was aware of the movement of his back and ribs with his breath. Here is the trick: Let breath out (instead of breathing in)

“Sharon! I feel so relaxed!!! Letting breathing out is so calming. I am always working so hard to breathe in.”

Check if you are making these mistakes with your breathing:

1) Breathing in by lifting your chest and shoulders. This requires many muscles in upper body to grip and tighten and prevents your diaphragm from moving properly in order to take in breath.

2) Holding in breath after the inhale. Holding your breath actually requires your muscles to work unnecessarily. You will also start to feel frantic, panicky, anxious, and/or nervous.

3) Controlling the breath. Your body breathes better than you do. If you are breathing in deeply, you are interfering with your body’s natural breathing coordination.

These mistakes can not only cause physical pain but also evoke nervousness, fear, and anxiety. Letting breath out releases muscles and allows your body to take care of you. Your breathes better than you.

If you want to look and feel confident when speaking to colleagues, potential clients, or that hot person that just walked into the room, join the email list at www.AlexanderTechniqueLA.com for video tips to be calm, confident, and charismatic!

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