The Alexander Technique and Neck Tensions

Tension and pain in the neck and adjoining areas are a bane of modern life. Who has not suffered such pain at some moment or other of the day? Often, a small spontaneous movement, a bit of rest or merely turning ones attention to something else will be enough to make the pain go away.

However not everyone can solve the problem so easily. Some people may always experience discomfort, either stiffness or pain in the shoulders as soon as they sit down to work or after too long a period of concentration, and this can persist all evening or even throughout the night. For many people this part of their body, which is sensitive to any stress or waste load, never feels totally as it should.

There is nothing surprising in all this, as the neck region is the prime area concerned in our conscious control of any actions and movements; it is the key to muscular coordination and the conduct of vital nerves and blood vessels passing to and from the brain.

In a healthy organism some tension is normally present around the back of the neck to allow a proper balancing of the head and preventing it from falling forward. Excessive tension in the neck will quickly result, however, in discomfort or even pain, if it is chronic and over-compresses the nerves of the spine.

Neck pain may also follow a trauma, such as a fall or road accident (e.g. the well-known whiplash injury), the effects of which can last a long tie, especially if not treated with due seriousness at the time.

Bad habits, often acquired at a very early age or associated with psychological conditions, may also cause us to hold our head in a manner liable to create excessive tension.

The Alexander Technique accords special importance to the neck and the way one holds one’s head, For, in order to achieve a good orientation in relation to gravity, the movements of the head are dependant on very powerful reflexes which can even force the body to contort itself in order to keep its balance.

The overall task of reeducating the self towards a better use along the principles of the Alexander Technique begins by freeing the neck and restoring the natural balance of the head. The pupil will learn how to let tensions in the neck be released so as to allow the spinal column to lengthen, which will ensure a correct head posture and good body equilibrium.

The pupil will discover that achieving such a readjustment will help get rid of unnecessary painful tensions and that even if they sometimes persist, he/she will have a practical method of dealing with them.

Athanase Vettas – Alexander Technique Teacher in Brussels –