Exercises help people with Parkinson’s to improve balance, flexibility, and strength. Applying the Alexander Technique guidelines to the exercises can help the person performing the exercises do them with better body-awareness, with less unnecessary tension, greater ease, reduced risk of falling, and enhanced confidence.
Let’s take, for example, the exercise of going up on the toes. In addition to helping with balance, it also helps with increasing foot-flexion. However – the act of going up on the toes can make one feel insecure, vulnerable, and fearful of falling. The fear of falling causes the body to respond with tightening, stiffening, and making all kinds of attempts to prevent the fall. Holding on to the back of a chair, or a wall, is, of course helpful, but this action too needs to be done with balance, and with a quiet mind, to prevent one from shifting the body-weight to one side only.
One thing the person with Parkinson can learn is how to consciously be aware of the tightening coming up, and how to stop it right at the very beginning. It requires a different way of body-thinking. Instead of the unconscious tensing – one will consciously remove the interfering tension. Another thing to be learned is how to engage the whole body in such a way that the tension will spread evenly in the right places, and in the right amount, so that the exercise will be done with ease. All body-parts will move in the right amount of tension, and in the right relationship between each other. This way – going up on the toes will be done with a better poise to begin with, and in a more natural and efficient way, with less forcing, more balance, and more ease.
The Alexander Technique provides the person with Parkinson’s a new tool to apply to the exercises, as well as new skills for self management of daily activities.