When you work every day to help people keep their bones in the best health possible, you see the subtle effects that stress can have on your body. Most of my patients live stressful, busy lives. That isn’t to say their lives aren’t fulfilling, but the levels of stress most people deal with can cause a number of health problems, including damage to your bones. And that can take away from your enjoyment of all the good things in your life.
In the news lately there have been stories about stress and increased risks of heart disease and obesity. What you may not know is that stress can also trigger daily, physical pain. The pain might be a dull ache in your back, neck or arms. It might be something you’ve been dealing with and trying to ignore. But think for a minute how good it would feel to be pain free. Would you get more done? Would you sleep better? Would you enjoy your day more?
The answer for most of my patients to all of these questions is, “Yes, definitely.”
There are ways that you can relieve stress-induced pain without taking pain relievers and without having to go to the chiropractor or massage therapist every month. A little-known technique called the Alexander Technique can provide you lasting relief. The great thing about the Alexander Technique is that it takes six or eight weeks of regular session… but then your relief is lasting. That means that you are fixing your problem at the source. You’re are correcting the cause of your pain, rather than just temporarily relieving your pain.
Over the long run, this technique is cheaper, completely safe, and very effective.
Discover the Alexander Technique and How it Can Work for You
When you are stressed you hold more tension in your muscles. After a while, that tension can become chronic. It becomes like a bad habit. You’re so used to holding your body that way that you do it all the time. The constant tension of your muscles puts a strain on your skeletal structure, and before you know it you’re suffering from chronic pain.
The Alexander Technique works by teaching you how to relax muscles that are unnecessarily tense. Rather than a series of exercises or treatments, it’s really more of a training technique. It helps you to relearn how to move and balance in a way that’s more natural to your body.
Here’s how it works. When you attend an Alexander Technique session with someone trained in the practice, your teacher will have you perform simple movements like walking or standing up from a sitting position. He will observe your movement and posture. Often he will rest a hand on your neck or back as you move. This helps him better note the tension levels in your muscles. Using gentle guidance, the teacher will help to train your muscles to relax into a natural and pain-free state. Many teachers use several movements and postures to train your muscles to move without restrictive and unnecessary tension.
The technique is very gentle, but it really works. In a recent study, researchers examined the results of the Alexander Technique, massage therapy, and exercise therapy coupled with behavioral counseling. They wanted to see how well the three different approaches worked in treating chronic back pain.
They found that before treatment the patients typically experienced noticeable pain 21 days out of every 28. After 24 treatments with the Alexander technique, the patients experienced pain only 3 out of every 28 days. Even more remarkable, the patients continued to enjoy the benefits after one year even without additional treatments.
There is also evidence that practicing the Alexander Technique can enhance your lung function. Being able to breathe better and deeper can increase your energy and reduce pain and fatigue. Researchers found that patients learning the Alexander technique improved respiratory muscle function by up to 12% compared to controls.
How to Find a Registered Alexander Technique Practitioner
Because of the methodology behind the Alexander Technique, it is a perfectly safe way to address pain issues. It provides long-lasting and effective relief. The study above was conducted using one-on-one lessons with a registered Alexander Technique professional, so that is what I recommend. You can locate a practitioner near you by visiting the Alexander Technique website.
If individual sessions aren’t practical for you, many Alexander Technique teachers also host group classes. There are also books and DVDs available through the above website. These options aren’t as good as one-on-one teaching, but they can still help you on your way to more pain free days.