AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Img backache 270x300 Abolish Aches And Pains With Balance And RelaxationAs the flexibility and seeming endless energy experienced during childhood wears off, most of us who spend hours a day stationary in front of a computer screen find that little injuries can cause a lot of pain. Many professionals can avoid shoulder and backache simply by learning to use their bodies more efficiently.

Kinaesthetic sense

During the early years of childhood, the brain constructs a “body map”, which it uses to sense and control different areas of the body. This sense is called the kinaesthetic sense (also referred to as the sixth sense) and it allows you to understand your body in relation to the space around it without necessarily having the visual feedback to facilitate this.

For instance, when you close your eyes and hold up your hand whilst wiggling your fingers, you can probably visualise the movement. You can probably also imagine the distance your head is from your hand and where your fingers are in relation to it. The ability to do this means your kinaesthetic sense is well in working order!

However, the body map is not necessarily constructed accurately. Have you ever asked a friend or child to sit up straight and noticed that they are still slouching, or sometimes overextending their backs (opposite of slouching)?  The truth is that they might not be lazy at all, but their brains are telling them they are sitting comfortably and straight when they are, in fact, putting unnecessary strain on their body. As a result, many individuals working long hours in front of a computer or driving a car can receive false information from the brain regarding their body position, which can lead to harm and injury.

There are many possible reasons for a faulty body map. Some children experience serious trauma to their bodies which causes them to block off emotional (and other) feedback relating to that part of the body. This means that the development of the body map can become distorted. There are also cases where children are told to “sit up straight” and are only rewarded when they assume an overextended position, which is in fact strenuous for the lower back, but which reinforces a false body map!

Alexander technique

There are several ways one can improve one’s posture and overall body use. Simply becoming more aware of problem areas and forcing yourself to pay attention to them will help. For instance, it might be interesting to note whether your shoulders are raised and your head is forward in a slightly uncomfortable position as you read this. These are little habits that could be the cause of annoying backache or even headaches!

The Alexander technique was developed by a Shakespearian actor, Frederick Matthias Alexander, after he lost his voice and doctors failed to find a physical reason for it. Alexander consequently spent a lot of time observing his movement and body use whilst trying to recite as if he was performing. He realised that as soon as he was about to speak, he moved his head forward, which placed unnecessary strain on his spine and had a negative effect on balance. He worked on correcting this habit using certain principles which are taught by Alexander technique teachers. He regained his voice and spent the rest of his life teaching the principles to other actors and musicians who struggled with injuries because of ineffective body use.

Alexander maintained that a balanced body can improve wellbeing and strength. He used the example of African women who carry heavy loads on their heads without injury as an example of excellent use of balance and body. He believed that this state of equilibrium can be learnt and improved despite a faulty body map.

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Written by Louisa Theart. Louisa Theart writes for The Beating Pulse, dedicated to health and well-being – emotional, mental and physical.

Categories: Health care

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