Heather Stegmaier, M.AmSAT

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« The Posture Myth | Main | Combat Coping with the Alexander Technique »

No Pain, No Gain: Re-Thinking Daily Activities

As you go about your day, you accomplish millions of physical activities such as standing, sitting, driving a car, picking stuff up, putting stuff down, walking….the list goes on and on.

Do you ever give thought to how you accomplish these activities? Probably not, you know how to do these things easily and can do them in your sleep. They’re ingrained habits. Why would you have to think about it?

The reason is that habitual movement—or moving on auto-pilot— could be contributing to any chronic pain and fatigue that you experience. The way you move affects your organism on a profound level. Thinking about how you do an activity is important and can help you experience less strain and pain throughout the day.

Try this out:

  1. Place an object on the floor. From standing, go ahead and pick it up. (Some of you may even be thinking that picking something up from the floor is no easy task, that’s a long way down! If so, put the item on a chair.)
  2. Try picking this item up a few times, and see how you go about it. Do you experience any strain? Did you contort your body in any-which-way to accomplish the task? Maybe you bent at the waist, locking your knees back; or collapsed in the torso to get lower.

If you experienced strain or imbalance, now multiply that by how often you do these simple tasks all day. That’s a lot of strain and pain just to get the job done!

As you can see, the act of accomplishing a task may happen at the expense of your physical well-being.

We call this End-Gaining in the Alexander Technique. F.M. Alexander wrote that by carrying out an activity habitually, “irrespective of any harmful effects due to misuse of the self during the process,” we are overriding the thinking and reasoning self and relying on vague instinct.[i]

The Alexander Technique gives you the tools to change the way you move by inserting conscious thought and awareness into your daily life. As I said before, the way you move affects your organism on a profound level. If you can relearn how to move efficiently and without strain and stress, you can literally change your everyday experience for the better.

What are some ways in which you move that may be causing you physical stress? I’d love here from you in the comments below!

Click here for a fantastic photo gallery of common activities illustrating better ways of moving with before-and-after pics.


[i] Alexander, F.M., The Universal Constant in Living (London: Mouritz, 2000), 11.

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