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7. Vague musculosceletal problems and increased body awareness

This is the 7th text in Towards Effortlessness, a blog series where I report on the results of a customer survey I conducted in 2021. The introduction to the series is here. In this week's blog, I will address, from some perspectives generated by the data, the questions 1. "What did you seek help for from the Alexander Technique?", and 2. "Did you get the help you sought? If yes/no, please tell us a few words about it." 94 people responded to the survey.

Eight respondents sought help for vague musculoskeletal problems that did not fit neatly into the categories already discussed. The responses indicated that they suffered certainly at least from pain (3), numbness (1), difficulty with moving (2) or some other misery (3). However, the responses suggest that this should be treated as a separate category, as the symptoms did not fall directly into any of the themes already discussed in terms of their vagueness or variety.

Image: Juha Sihto

The main way of resolving the problems was that the respondents felt that they had learned something, mainly something that they called body awareness. This will come as no surprise to those who have read the previous blogs in this series, nor to those who are familiar with the existing research evidence on the results and impact of the Alexander Technique. Here are some highlights of the responses:

"My body awareness increased, allowing me to use my body in a more controlled way."

"I became aware of unnecessary tensions in the body. For example, I learned this: When I stop the car at a traffic light, I no longer squeeze the wheel and wait with my foot on the gas for the light to change. Instead, I use the red lights to relax. I lean back and enjoy a little moment of rest, letting my shoulders go, my arms relaxing on my lap. It's easy enough to get going when the lights change again.”

"I learned to stop over-extending my back and as a result, the symptoms have disappeared."

"I found a way to relax myself during the working day and at other times when my body tenses up in stressful situations."

One respondent said that the realization was more profound than just something physical: "I didn't know if my pain and discomfort was physical or psychological. The Alexander Technique helped me get in touch with myself and I have managed in rehabilitating myself..."

The increase in body awareness and learning to control the body has led, in different ways for all respondents, to

- Easier movement and being

- reduced pain

- alleviation of the vague discomfort

One respondent highlighted an AT practice called the active rest: "The active rest has proven to be effective, it eliminates tension and discomfort."

Three respondents sought and got help from the AT for body awareness. In these responses, body awareness was defined as the ability to recognize tension and to release oneself from unnecessary tension. This experience is supported by the responses above. Furthermore, the quotes at the beginning of this text indicate that in the responses the boundary between body awareness and body control is not clear.

Three sought and received help for difficult breathing. The responses were consistent with the earlier ones: clients learned to stop some extra physical activity that they had been unconsciously doing to prevent themselves from breathing easily. Once the extra activity was stopped, breathing became easier.

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