Most people are aware of the fact that body- tension causes body – discomfort, like chronic neck, shoulders, or back pain. They look at tension as a problem, and their goal is to get rid of it. They feel relaxed after the tension is gone.
We do need a certain amount of muscle-tension in our body, to keep us upright, and to move. Our muscles work in such a way that when one muscle-group tightens, another group relaxes. For example – when eating – as we hold the fork – we bring our hand close to our mouth. In order to do this we have to bend the forearm on the elbow. In order to do this – our biceps in our upper arm have to tighten, while our triceps in the back of our upper arm –have to relax.
When we do the action described above, or any other action, in a relaxed way – our muscles still use tension, in the same way described above: One group tightens, and the other group relaxes. However – when being in a relaxed state – the body uses the minimum amount of tension needed for the action, and this tension takes place only in the right group-muscles.
The Alexander Technique does not deal with the question “which muscles should do what.” It looks at the body as a whole, and helps us become aware of how we carry our head on the top of our spine. As we become aware of this type of whole body-balance – we gradually develop better skills at improving the relationship between our head, neck, and back. As we improve this dynamic relationship, our movements become easy, and our muscles react to this ease by reducing unnecessary tension, and producing the right amount of tension only in the right places.
This awareness of this specific type of balance, is one aspect of the Alexander Technique. The technique includes a number of aspects, and is based on a set of guidelines which require thought and attention to what our body is doing, and where it’s going.