Heather Stegmaier, M.AmSAT

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This page is dedicated to answering questions submitted by my readers. To submit a question to be answered here, please email me.


AT Question: I am a new mom and would love to incorporate the AT into my daily life so that I can meet the day's physical challenges with ease. What can I do with my body (or think) to ease it before I go to pick up my baby and what can I do to improve my posture while I'm holding my 18 lb. daughter (which I do A LOT ... like, practically all day)? ~Tara

AT Answer: Tara, you are not alone in this! I think it’s safe to say that all new moms experience this type of physical and emotional stress in their life, especially in the first year of their child’s life. I’m sure you are doing an amazing job caring for your daughter. By incorporating a few tips from the Alexander Technique, you will be well on your way for caring for yourself as well. And we all know that a happy mom makes for a happy family! :) You touched on a great point in your question: you asked, “what can I do with my body (or think) to ease it.” Both thinking and changing your postural habits are key to creating more ease in your life. Here are some specific things you can do to bring more ease in your life today:

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AT Question: I was in a car accident 6 months ago, which left me with pain on the right side of my neck. I went to the chiropractor for numerous sessions and was told I was back to normal. However, the pain came back and still exists, sometimes mildly sometimes more acutely. What can I do?  ~Amy

Thank you for this important question, Amy! You bring up a really great topic: does chronic pain (whether brought about through an injury, accident, repetitive strain, or no event at all) have a beginning and end? Before I give you concrete steps to take to address your chronic pain issue, I’d like to touch on this topic. Our culture really likes the idea of fixing things, and this is no different when it comes to our health. Of course, after an injury, there is a time for healing and “getting back to normal”. These are important steps to take after an injury or accident, and health care providers such as chiropractors offer an important method of care. I will call this ‘treatment’, which has a beginning and an end. But what happens after you’ve been treated and sent on your way? Most likely you go back to your normal everyday life, which includes deep set habits of movement. These habitual patterns can interfere with your well-being and contribute to chronic pain. The Alexander Technique is unique because it takes an educational approach to chronic pain. The life skills of the Alexander Technique are used to explore and change our deep set habits of thought and movement.

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AT Question: When I'm out for my usual walk around the neighborhood, I tend to put my hands on my hips up the challenging hills, and find myself leaning forward. This doesn't make any sense, but I find myself automatically doing it and correcting myself. Any suggestions?  ~Diane

AT Answer: Great question, Diane! The key word in your question is challenging. When the body is challenged during a physical activity it can react in two ways: 1. Compensate by contorting in an awkward position, or by having other body parts work and help out the muscles that need to work. 2. Meet the challenge with length, strength, and proper body mechanics. Based on your question, you are reacting the first way. I’m assuming this is not by choice but more by default. As you say, it doesn’t make sense, but it’s an automatic response. It takes some training and awareness to meet a physical challenge with length, strength, and body mechanics. The Alexander Technique is a tool that helps you move from automatically compensating to making a conscious choice in order to use proper body mechanics. Let’s explore these two options!

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AT Question: I always have pain in my neck, shoulder and elbow due to flute playing and other activities. How do I stop the pain? ~Kim

AT Answer: This is a wonderful question, and one I hold near and dear to my heart. As a flutist myself, I’ve experienced pain in my neck, shoulders, and arms. Pain can be debilitating to musicians and cause musicians to not play as much as they’d like or give up playing entirely. It can also lead to believing that there is nothing that can be done and that you just have to live with the pain. This is not the case. The Alexander Technique (AT) is a proven, long lasting solution to pain. Most often, when we want pain to go away we think that we have to “do” something to make that happen. As an Alexander Technique teacher, I take a different approach. To make the pain stop, you must stop what is causing the pain. Since the pain is only occurring when you are engaged in an activity such as playing the flute, let’s look at what can be causing the pain in this activity. From an AT perspective, there are many reasons for which pain can occur:

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