In a recent article entitled ‘Taming technology?’ the British Chiropractic Association reported that an online research survey had shown almost one in four people are complaining of a sore neck, back or shoulder due to using or carrying gadgets.
The title of the article implies that in some way the ‘wild’ technology is to blame – hence the need for ‘taming’ it. I often hear people saying that their computer is causing them back pain, when the reality of course is that it is something they are doing while using the computer that is causing the problem.
The Alexander Technique offers a different approach. Lessons in the Technique can give you the foundation needed to address the unhelpful habits which are likely to be at the root cause of the problem. By increasing your awareness and noticing what you are doing, you are taking the first step towards finding a long term solution, which will involve not trying to correct your posture. Here the role of the teacher is vital in helping you to resist the temptation to ‘do’ something about it, as that will usually result in increased tension. For example, if you notice that you are slumped you might think it would be a good idea to correct this by sitting up straight. But it is quite likely that your idea of ‘sitting up straight’ will result in you pulling your head back and your back in. Apart from the fact that you will soon become tired by trying to remain in this position, it is just a different version of a harmful way of sitting at your computer. This is what F.M. Alexander was referring to when he said: ‘there is no such thing as a right position, but there is such a thing as a right direction’.
It’s really about learning a new way of thinking so that you can make helpful and healthy choices about the way you use the technology. Using your mobile phone provides a good example:
instead of trying to remember a specific instruction of what to do or what not to do, you will be making a conscious choice in that moment to bring your phone up to you rather than dropping your head down towards it. The result of making that choice is that you will avoid causing yourself neck pain or tension across your shoulders.