One of my Alexander Technique pupils told me this week how her five year old daughter was inspired by watching the Tour de France on television to learn to ride a bicycle herself. She has spent happy hours experimenting with her balance and coordination to learn the skills to ride. She is a good example of what the London Olympic organizers hope will happen on a mass scale all over the country. The young and not so young will be motivated by watching top athletes to have a go at sports themselves.
With the latest research showing that inactivity is more dangerous than smoking, we have to hope this will happen. But I also hear people say, ‘I used to go to the gym until I hurt my back working out.’ Or, ‘I used to run, but I got an ankle/knee/back injury, so I stopped.’ I have also heard people say, ‘They tell you to exercise, but my friend injured herself exercising, so I don’t think I will bother.’
It is a fact that we can injure ourselves exercising and top athletes, even with their superb skills, sustain injuries. But they put themselves at risk by demanding performance from themselves at a level far beyond anything we ask of ourselves.
The types of injuries the average Saturday sportsman or gym user suffers are usually the result of poor technique. All sports require technique and it is superior technique that helps make the great athlete. But there is technique even to using a rowing machine or cross trainer in the gym. The absence of reasonable technique, or skill, in using these machines is what leads to strains and injuries.
The Alexander Technique is called this rather than Alexander philosophy, principle, or theory for a reason. It is a practical technique or skill which can be learned, just as cycling, running, or swimming technique can be learned. It is a skill set which can be applied to anything, not just sport. You don’t have to get hot and sweaty or wet all over to use it!
As an Alexander teacher, I have had more pupils who have injured themselves at their computers than those who do so exercising. The life of the couch potato or computer jockey is fraught with danger. Now there is research to prove it is more dangerous to health than smoking.
More about cycling, swimming and running in the future.