With life expectancy decreasing, there has been a growing need to promote a healthy and quality life for senior citizens. Living into your 90s is terrific, but the concern is whether you will function well at this age, as you often lose your stature, balance, and mobility as you age. Senior citizens are emphasizing physical and mental exercise and observing proper nutrition.
Nevertheless, focusing more on the activities and overlooking how well they perform them is not beneficial. Harmful walking and posture habits at an early age can become a severe physical impediment as you age. For this reason, as a senior citizen, you must learn the Alexander technique to release harmful habits and age well.
Overview of the Alexander Technique
Growing up as a child, you could pose and balance effortlessly. Sadly, you had picked up harmful posture and mobility habits by the time you became an adult. You hardly notice that you have lost your suppleness because tension becomes an unintentional response to stress throughout your life.
The Alexander Technique (AT), or methodology, addresses harmful habits by re-educating you on postural and proprioceptive techniques. The approach teaches you awareness, release, and how to avoid unhealthy muscle movement and coordination habits. AT adopts the philosophy of “good use,” which means using and moving the body lightly with little interference from the neck, head, and spine interrelationships. It is a re-education methodology and not a quick fix.
By taking the lessons, you gradually learn to incorporate the technique into daily activities like walking, sitting, standing, and bending. The method aims to teach you how to utilize postural mechanisms to regulate your upright support and movement properly. A specialist or teacher teaches it through gentle contact and verbal instructions. You learn how to practice the technique independently by combining the two methods.
AT and physical therapy (PT) are distinct. PT focuses on strengthening, stretching, enhancing aerobic capability, and motor control through supervised exercises practiced at specific times. On the other hand, AT educates you on awareness and bad muscle tension through the following:
- Proprioceptive re-education.
- Guiding and evaluating movement and coordination.
- The use of the semi-supine position as a central technique.
- Focusing on the interrelationship between the head, neck, and back.
Unlike PT, whose exercises are performed at specific times, the methodologies in AT are incorporated and practiced in daily activities.
AT and Aging Healthy
Society, including medical professionals, views pain and diseases as natural and associates them with old age and stress. Nevertheless, these stresses stem from uncoordinated mobility, which hastens or speeds up the aging process, which the AT addresses. Culture makes people believe that oldness and gravity are against them. However, your body is constructed to read gravity differently. Instead of compressing yourself with your weight, the body processes gravity using reflexes that lightly suspend you off the earth. Therefore, gravity does not compress you to the ground like a column; instead, it projects you into daily routines like walking, standing, and standing.
Several widespread misconceptions regarding age and gravity exist. However, this has not deterred senior citizens from seeking ways to enhance the quality of their lives and manage worries that appear to hamper their daily activities to remain independent and mobile. Older people struggling with health conditions like osteoarthritis, diabetes, hypertension, Mesothelioma, or cardiovascular disease have mobility issues and are often forced to depend on loved ones to perform daily activities. Luckily, when these older people enroll in the AT classes, they learn the basic principles of the methodology, which focus on:
- How movement, standing or sitting affect overall body function.
- How your head and trunk integrate for maximum body function.
- How to become self-aware of your daily activities, make changes, and enjoy benefits.
- How the mind and body work together to influence each other constantly.
The most significant strength of the AT is the capacity to talk to the learner as an organic system and avoid falling into the deception of constant fixes.
The head and neck are deemed the “Primary Control” by F.M. Alexander, the methodology developer. By learning to manage this reflexive system efficiently, AT can indirectly address several problems related to your mobility and health. The interrelationship between the head and neck controls your body balance and synchronization.
Unfortunately, Alexander's empirical discovery is that most people, at an early age and during development, learn harmful habits that interfere with the primary control, thus affecting the balance mechanism. The bad habits begin to contract muscles in sections where the head rests on the neck, impairing natural stability and harmonization. As a result, the body starts compensating for the impairment, further interfering with harmonization. Instead of the reflexive system being poised and tweaked by a poised tonus and firmness distribution, you begin to feel, as usual, with body parts that are excessively tense to the extent that you feel like you are carrying bricks around. This explains why you find standing up hard when you sit on a chair for a long time.
The disproportion becomes more evident as you age because you start developing a fear of falling. There is a force trying to immobilize your joints, so every time you want to move, you are acting against the pressure, creating severe wear and rip, which explains the pain and injuries in the joints senior citizens experience. As your age advances, you realize your body becomes stiff, unstable, inflexible, and top-heavy without understanding how or why it happened. Fear of sustaining injuries when you fall due to the imbalance makes the body even tenser, increasing the features that make you lose balance. You grow concerned about your balance and falling, which becomes a significant limitation. You start avoiding activities like walking or standing, which keep you active. With time, you become inactive as your age advances because you fear falling due to poor balance.
Restoring the Balance
Just because you develop harmful postural and locomotion habits at a young age does not mean you cannot undo the damage. Alexander found out that you can interject and reverse these unhealthy habits. It is possible to intentionally restore the balance or interrelationship between your head and trunk, bringing back the stability and flexibility of your movements. All you must do is change or adjust your thinking and your actions. You stop contracting your neck and pulling your head backward. Doing so prevents interference with the reflexive system's balance, restoring the dynamic balance between the head and neck and restoring the initial balance and self-assurance.
Theoretically, restoring balance to stop contractions seems easy to incorporate into daily practices. However, fighting an ingrained habit is not easy. Your body is already used to these harmful habits, which feels right. Therefore, you will face serious resistance whenever you try to change or adjust what your body and mind think is correct. The body will always seduce you to do what is right because that is what is natural, although it is unnatural. It becomes impossible to change bad habits because the body is used to them as natural, no matter how much you want to age well.
Therefore, you need a teacher for the Alexander methodology to re-educate your mind and body. The teacher will objectively watch your coordination and movements. With time, you also learn how your teacher prepares to move. You will know how to interrupt the desire to move how you are used to and allow the natural movement to kick in. Your conscious awareness begins to cooperate instead of interfering with the coordination of your reflexive system.
You must attend lessons from an accredited teacher to change harmful habits and release unhealthy tension from the body. You will require face-to-face classes to learn and incorporate the methodology daily.
You can attend the classes in a studio or clinic. Some teachers even offer the sessions in their homes. Your teacher will recommend wearing loose and comfortable clothes for your classes.
During the session, the teacher will objectively note your movements to identify the harmful habit that exaggerates your symptoms. They will also observe your sitting and standing to guide you toward improved balance and reduce strain. Additionally, your teacher will use their hands to softly guide your motions and help you maintain an improved interrelationship between your head, neck, and back to regain balance.
Learning AT requires several lessons. At least twenty classes a week will help you achieve the full benefits of the methodology. The lectures aim to help you understand the primary principles of the Alexander methodology and apply them in your daily activities for maximum benefits.
Benefits of the AT
The Alexander methodology resists the lure of fixing symptoms like stiffness, fears of falling, and pain and instead focuses on the primary interference that causes these symptoms. By doing so, the technique indirectly benefits its students, particularly older people. Young people enjoy more freedom for errors and misapplication than senior citizens, affording extreme tension and intrusion. Nevertheless, older adults have a lower brim for error, which explains their inactivity. Your focus, therefore, as an older person, should be to regain flexibility levels through the Alexander methodology.
The release of harmful tension and tonus redistribution to the head and neck is conveyed to the rest of the body:
- Helping you regain posture and balance, which are critical in preventing falls or fear of falling.
- Enhancing joint flexibility and lowering extreme pull on the bones reduces the damage in case you fall.
- Assisting in mobility restoration and maintenance.
- Enhancing economic movements by re-enlisting typical body antigravity reflexes and improving resistance and lightness.
- Stimulating ease of simple and daily activities like rising from the chair, gardening, lifting, or golfing.
When your movements become more efficient, the pressure on the joints and general organs is released, promoting overall health. As a student, once you have undergone training and mastered the AT, you will experience enhanced breathing, body function, ingestion and absorption, and reduced blood pressure.
Hypertension is associated with heart problems and bone loss. Therefore, when you incorporate the methodology into your lifestyle and lower your blood pressure, you will retain your bone mass, which is critical for pleasurable and controllable physical activity. If you enjoy physical activity, you will avoid a sedentary lifestyle, lowering the risk of hypertension and heart disease.
Besides, the Alexander methodology improves your body’s capacity to manage chronic pain or diseases. For example, when you have arthritis and begin taking AT classes, with time, the harmful tension in your joints will be released, promoting activity. Also, AT helps enhance movements in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Generally, AT improves your physical balance and function, which are critical in the following ways:
- Reducing anxiety.
- Improving your temperament and sense of health.
- Restores independence and the feeling of self-determination.
- It helps your body regain natural control, coordination, and choice.
- It reconnects you with a sense of inner support and support from the environment.
Hiring an Alexander Methodology Teacher
Having seen how AT is critical to aging well, you must find a professional teacher to help you attain improved body function and mobility. There are many AT teachers out there, making it challenging to hire the right expert. You can search online and look for teachers approved to offer the lessons.
Similarly, you can speak to friends, family, or colleagues who have successfully used the technique for referrals. Ask if these former students have benefited from the classes. However, the referrals should not be the end of your search. As a prospective student, you have the final say.
Check the teacher’s training and certification. If a few teachers are in your area, you can visit the studios or clinics for a few free classes.
When you find a few names whose classes interest you, you should check whether these teachers are certified to offer AT courses. A certified teacher has three years of training from an AT society. Pick the teacher with the training and experience you need for maximum benefits.
Find a Competent Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner Near Me
If you want to age well and think of the Alexander technique course as the way to aid your goal, you should choose the right teacher. Trinity Acupuncture offers AT lessons to enhance healthy aging and keep you upright and active. Call us today at 310-371-1777 to schedule a meeting in Torrance, CA.