I turned to the Alexander Technique when I faced a serious repetitive stress injury (RSI) in my mid-20s. In a couple months, I went from being quite healthy to feeling significant pain with any movement of my arms and hands. Even sitting and standing were extremely painful. Though each person's RSI is unique, I've helped many students learn how to break free of habits that seem to trap them in pain.
The Alexander Technique is particularly well suited for dealing with RSI because students learn, through hands-on and verbal guidance, to use their bodies as they were designed. “Refreshed, calm, taller” – these are some of the words students used to describe how they feel walking out of a lesson.
The healing continues long after the lesson because you are learning skills to improve your well-being. You are training for those critical moments where you’re tempted to react habitually and trigger your RSI, whether it is picking up a child or using your computer on autopilot for too long. A major study by the British Medical Journal showed that the Alexander Technique was more effective at treating back pain than massage or exercise. In addition, participants reported “no adverse effects”.
Our lessons are not about being perfect or having to keep a stiff upper lip; humor and kindness are important parts of the recovery process. I know it can be stressful and overwhelming to deal with RSI.
The path ahead is time-tested, gentle, and potent.
- Calm the nervous system
- Synchronize mind and body
- Wake up our natural uprightness
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to heal an injury without improving the whole ecology of our health – how we use our body, how we react to stress. The Alexander Technique is a practical, conservative approach for coming out of an injury healthier than we were before.
Dan Cayer is a brilliant teacher — compassionate and intuitive, with his own history of working through pain — and a stealth philosopher. Studying the Alexander Technique with him has improved my posture and coordination, reduced my anxiety, and eradicated a host of chronic health problems. Best of all, it’s taught me how to show up much more fully for my life and my creative work.