The natural flexibility of most adults in the western world is unfortunately very limited because of the way in which they use their muscles in daily tasks and in physical activity, this caused principally by the modern style of sedentary living, the sheer amount of time spent sitting down, as well as by the stressful movements associated with time and deadlines for achievement that has become such a chronic problem.
The body does not adapt well to this style of living and its muscular system is correspondingly affected, with certain muscle groups chronically over-contracted and others excessively relaxed.
The Alexander Technique teaches to create first the right attitude of mind which will prevent us from becoming obsessed with the end to achieve and focus rather on the means to achieve it.
It is generally accepted these days that all forms of physical exercise should be preceded by a general coordination training of the body, if the exercise is to achieve its best results.
Given that the Alexander Technique seeks to teach pupils how to consciously relax excessive muscular tension and save unnecessary effort, coupled with its whole approach of facilitating the natural tendency of the body towards expansion, its principles can readily be incorporated in a suppleness program and help the pupil to regain freedom of movement of the whole body without undesirable compensations.
Sportsmen and dancers are often seen performing relatively fruitless stretching exercises that can hardly be of much benefit to their neuromuscular systems despite their efforts, because they specifically focus on the areas they are working on. A suppleness program in which the principles of the Alexander Technique with regard to the reeducation and general coordination are brought to bear can enable the body to adopt more easily to the changes assumed to occur and accordingly to extract maximum benefit from stretching exercises.
- to enhance the flexibility and the dynamic lengthening of the spinal column in every movement so as to produce optimum muscular tension in all parts of the body.
- to keep in mind the physiological constraints of stretching and the reaction of the body to stretching.
- to seek always to produce an overall stretching effect without local compensations.
- Stretching exercises that respect the whole body provide as much physical well-being as of psychological satisfaction at achieving our goal in a physiological way.
The principles of the Alexander Technique need to be remembered all the time and in any activity, not only when we exercise, so that our body can become used to respond efficiently to our needs. In that way, we can get a better control of the way we use ourselves during exercises and become able to derive optimum benefits from them.