This is the English version of Anti-kompresjon.
Last week I wrote in Beyond Angles that what we define as good or bad use of the body should not depend on the configuration of angles between body segments, i.e. "posture". To limit the use of the body to "correct" positions is constricting and unhealthy. Instead, every possible angle should be available. In practical terms this means having the potential to move in any direction.
It is not positions that determine the quality of how we use our bodies. The crucial question is: Do you compress yourself?
If you are making yourself shorter, narrower and more compressed, it is an indication that you are doing something wrong. The force exerted by your muscles are going in the wrong direction and you will be squeezing yourself. You risk becoming stiff and hamper your movements, and you have to compensate by using more muscle tension.
Moving becomes heavier, and it can affect how you feel about doing some activities. If there are things you don't like to do it may be because you are squeezing yourself and that you subconsciously find the activity uncomfortable. These habit patterns may in the long-term have negative impact on the health of the musculoskeletal system.
With the Alexander technique you have a choice. You can choose to do things in such a way that you do not squeeze yourself. This applies to whatever you do, whichever posture or configuration of body parts. The most important thing is not to squeeze between the head and body. This is why we are thinking the Alexander Technique "directions": neck free, head forward and up, back lengthening and widening, (or something similar).
The directions are primarily preventive. The Alexander Technique is an anti-compression technique.
In principle it's easy not to squeeze. The difficulty is that our movements are governed by habits to such an extent that it can be difficult to register that you are compressing yourself. Your breathing can be an indicator. If you notice that you are holding your breath you are most probably unnecessarily tightening in some way.
Other factors that may make it difficult to register whether you are using excess effort when moving is performing complex activities or activities that themselves requires the use of force.
To get "hands-on" guidance from an Alexander Technique teacher can be invaluable. Even Alexander Technique teachers like myself find it very useful to receive guidance from the hands of another teacher
In addition to making you aware of how you are moving, an Alexander Technique teacher uses touch in a way that helps the pupil to "de-compress". This is one of the reasons why pupils often feel lighter and are moving easier after a lesson. With time the pupil learn how to "de-compress" him or herself, and even more importantly: how to think in order to avoid compressing in the first place.
In between lessons you can experiment by yourself. As mentioned in the last post, having every possible angle available when moving is an advantage. You may want to explore your possibilities.
If you remember to pause before moving, just long enough to think your Alexander Technique directions, you will be better able to detect if you are squeezing yourself. Then you will have a better chance of moving freely whatever movement you intend to perform.
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