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The Edinburgh Alexander and Therapy Centre has been offering Alexander lessons and workshops since 1994.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Alexander Technique And Sport

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With the Olympics starting today in London, it is hard to escape sport for the next couple of weeks. One of the things all the sports on display have in common is the need for control, balance and poise. These are all things that Alexander Technique can help with, as well as avoiding injury, and Alexander Technique has been successfully used at this highest level.

Rather, than recite a list that would include Olympic show jumpers, rowers, runners, including the London Olympics’ chairman Lord Coe, I thought it would be interesting to find some clips of great sporting moments demonstrating particularly good use. In the end, I decided to limit myself, to a man who was not an Olympian, but is regarded as the best batsman of all time – Don Bradman. Don Bradman was a man Alexander very much admired and in this clip from You Tube you can see why.

If you watch Bradman demonstrating each stroke at 2.48 you will see that for each stroke he carefully puts lengthens over the leg he wants to support him before stepping forward or backwards with the other leg. The bat is raised as he goes over the supporting leg and is only used to make the stroke once the moving leg has been placed where Bradman wants it. As, he says they are all ‘practically the same.’ It is a beautiful display of control and use.

For those who crave a little Olympic Glory, here are two clips Seb Coe winning the 1500 in Moscow and then the British Gold medal winning coxless four rowing team in Athens where Mathew Pinsett and Alex Partridge are the two rowers who took lessons. They were taught by Caroline Chishom to ‘overcome an almost religious belief in the contracted muscle, an over-trained physique and an immune system on the blink.’ Semi-supine was to help them recover from races better, to prevent injuries and to boost their immune system.

They were also taught about the importance of lengthening muscle for making longer more powerful strokes, while using the hip joints rather than bending at the waist. It all helped with all their other training to help them get gold.

Richard Casebow

Back in the mid-1980s, I started to suffer from severe sciatica that often made walking and working difficult. At the time, I was training in London to become a Chartered Accountant and I left, as I was spending increasing amounts of time off waiting for the pain to subside. Around this time, I also became depressed, as my prospects seemed to darken with little hope of a normal life. In seeking help I found my way both to a psychotherapist and then to an Alexander Technique teacher, both of which helped enormously. The therapy with forming a life plan and understanding myself, encouraged me to dream of the life I have now. The Alexander Technique gave me the practical tool to help realise it and to allow me to rehabilitate myself to lead a full normal life.

The link between Alexander Technique, Psychotherapy and the art of living intelligently became something that has fascinated me ever since and is something I have continued to explore myself and with pupils and clients since. This blog is my attempt to elucidate the links, as well as to talk about Alexander Technique pure and simple and the benefits of therapy.

I founded the Edinburgh Alexander and Therapy Centre in 1994, Counselling Conversations came later after I became a practising therapist in 2003. Professionally I act as the Treasurer of the Personal Construct Psychology Association and sit on the board of the UKCP’s house magazine The Psychotherapist. When I am not to be found working, there is nothing better I like to be doing than spending time on a Scottish hillside, exploring the arts or just spending time with friends and family, including the family cat.