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HOW CAN THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE HELP A COMPUTER
by Joan Arnold and Hope Gillerman with Terry Zimmerer
The challenges of computer work
You sit at your computer each day, eyes on the screen, hand on the
mouse. You're deeply absorbed in your work or pressured to meet
a deadline. For hours, you barely move at all. Late in the day you
feel so compressed and tense you wish someone would put you in traction.
Maybe your elbow starts to tingle, pain shoots through your forearm
or your fingers go numb. Perhaps you ignore the symptoms, just to
get the work done.
Many employees and companies now know that a good chair, proper
desk height and a well-placed keyboard can reduce strain. But external
adjustments do not necessarily change how you use your body. You
can have top of the line ergonomic equipment and still slump in
your seat and compress your spine with every keystroke. Over time,
such habits lead to symptoms that can damage joints and muscles
and limit your capacity to perform on the job. The most important
determining factor in back problems and repetitive strain is how
you move your body while working.
From chronic tension to repetitive strain
It's amazing to think that a minute action like clicking a mouse
can lead to the agonizing, debilitating symptoms of repetitive strain
injury. But it doesn't have to. Wherever your symptoms may be --
wrist, forearm, hand, shoulders or back -- the source of your problem
is most likely the way you manage your entire body. If you curve
over your desk, chin reaching toward the screen, hunch your shoulders,
cradle a phone tightly on your neck or tense your arm as you type,
you are unconsciously compressing your joints -- from the neck through
your spine to your hands.
Joint compression and inflammation narrow the channel of small bones
in the hand and wrist -- the carpal tunnel -- through which nerve
impulses travel. When those impulses can't get through, the hand
weakens, undermining fine motor coordination. This could prevent
you from doing simple tasks, like picking up a quarter or opening
a jar. Tingling, pain or weakness are not to be ignored. They are
your body's way of waving a red flag, demanding attention.
Listening to your body's signals
Your senses give you feedback about what your body needs, whether
it's a break, a fuller breath or more ease. Many people tend to
ignore that feedback, and literally lose themselves in work. An
Alexander Technique teacher helps you sharpen your sensory awareness.
S/he is expert in observing the movement habits that cause strain,
and guides you to shift them. By observing the way you sit and perform
repeated motions, s/he helps you see what you're doing and how you
can improve it. By changing your movement pattern, you can avoid
worsening symptoms. Attuning to your body's signals and refining
postural coordination are skills you develop in Alexander Technique
He also acquired a new way to solve problems. "One of the biggest
lessons I learned," he says, "was the notion of intent and direction.
Rather than forcing a change, I could progress and achieve goals
through a process."
A long term solution
The first approach to try in resolving computer-related body problems,
the Technique is cost-efficient and non-invasive, with no adverse
side effects. Medication or surgery, though sometimes necessary,
address the symptoms of back pain, shoulder problems, repetitive
strain or carpal tunnel syndrome. The Alexander Technique addresses
the cause -- your movement style -- and gives you the ability to
Most computer related injury can be prevented by learning to:
Sit upright without strain and back tension.
Allow the joints to expand rather than compress.
Release excess neck tension and allow the head to move freely.
Tap the keyboard and mouse lightly.
Stay tuned to your body's messages.
Because the Alexander Technique is a holistic approach, it soothes
your entire system. With it, you use your body and mind more efficiently,
improving your concentration and endurance. That makes you more
effective on the job, and much more comfortable at the end of the
copyright: Joan Arnold and Hope Gillerman
Joan Arnold: JoanArn@aol.com
Hope Gillerman: email@example.com