My Experience with the Alexander Technique
I began to seriously study the Alexander Technique in graduate school as a Masters in Music student with an emphasis in classical guitar. I made this decision mostly as a last resort, as my health had been deteriorating for some time, due to a high-speed car collision with a texting driver. When I was rear ended, my head snapped back and my neck hinged against the head rest, causing damage in my C6 and C7 vertebrae.
The damage to my neck lead to severe upper and mid back spasms, weakness lifting my right arm, radiating pain in my right elbow, and a right thumb that would shake periodically in an uncontrollable way.
I was prescribed physical therapy, massage therapy, and even spinal injections to try and get myself back on track. While they all provided temporary relief, my symptoms would always come back and attempting to play the guitar was impossible.
What was unique about my experience with the Alexander Technique was the emphasis on the whole rather than the part, and how my reactions to the guitar and everyday activities could be exacerbating my problem.
If my back would begin to spasm, or I would feel pain in my arm, I was asked to notice what I was doing with my head, neck, and back and how I was thinking when it came time to move. I was asked to give up thinking directly about the movement, and stay with the thought of freeing the head, neck, and back.
I came out of each lesson feeling optimistic because I experienced a sense of ease and calm that was nearly impossible to come by. I felt hopeful because I was being taught a set of principles that I could practice on my own, that allowed me to release my back from spasming, to lift my arm without pain, and stop my thumb from shaking. With time and practice, my back spasms went away completely, I regained full strength in my arm, my thumb stopped shaking, andI could play the guitar again.
I owe everything to the Alexander Technique.
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