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Free Our Joints!

The balance that goes on in the human body is a marvellous thing. The substantial head is balanced on the atlanto-occipital joint with only a very small contact area and the weight of the head, torso and legs is balanced over the relatively small surface area of the feet. This dynamic poise is achieved not only when we’re sitting or standing still but also when we’re in motion – walking, running, turning or bending.

When we’re young, we take this effortless balancing act for granted – it’s just the natural way that the body works. However, as we get older, we learn to ‘misuse’ the body in many ways. Instead of using the knees and the hips to bend, we bend in the back, often locking the knees. The more we learn to overide the joints, the more cumbersome we become. We may start to experience a lack of confidence in this balancing act as little trips and stumbles start to occur more frequently. We may buy into the expectation that our balance will start to deteriorate in old age and a fear of falling starts to creep in.

The trouble is, when we are afraid of falling, we no longer rely on the natural balancing mechanisms of the body. Instead, we try to take control. We do this by tensing our muscles and locking our joints, making ourselves stiff and rigid. Not only is this very hard work, it also makes us more likely to fall over. The tighter our muscles, the stiffer our joints. And the stiffer our joints, the more difficult it will be to balance. Not only is it difficult to balance, it’s awkward to move. Try standing with your knees braced back and then try to take a step to the side. You’ll probably find that your legs are stiff and you feel that you need to shift all your weight to one side in order to move your foot.

Trying to stop ourselves from falling by tightening muscles and fixing our joints is not only ineffective, it can actually increase our risk of falling. We need to free our joints by letting go of unnecessary tension so that we may experience more flexibility, fluidity and ease of movement.

Learning the Alexander Technique is a way of rediscovering the natural ease and balance in the body in any activity.  Sarah-Linda is an Alexander Technique teacher in Cornwall.  Zoom courses mean you can now learn the Alexander technique online.