Ergonomics [ˌər-gə-ˈnä-miks], n. the study of how a workplace and the equipment used there can best be designed for comfort, efficiency, safety, and productivity (Encarta Dictionary: English (North American)
Alexander Technique [ˌal-ig-ˈzan-dər tek-ˈnēk], n. the study of how the human body can be best used for maximum comfort, efficiency, safety, and productivity (Definition: Imogen Ragone)
We often blame poorly designed work stations, cars, sofas and other equipment and furniture for our aches and pains. Good ergonomics, however, only solves part of the equation. Often the missing piece is how we actually use our own body. Even the very best ergonomically designed workstation is of limited value if the person using it does not use their own body well.
Unfortunately most people pay very little attention to how they use their own body. They take it for granted – this is just how I walk, how I eat, how I sit down, how I type – it’s a done deal! Why then, can one person work on the computer for hours with no adverse side effects, yet someone else is in severe pain after only 30 minutes? Can we really put all the blame on the computer? (or the chair, or the keyboard, or the mouse?) Or is there something different about the way these two people are using their body as they work?
I believe that in the vast majority of cases it is the way we use our body in the activities of our life that makes the biggest difference. That’s where the Alexander Technique comes in – it’s ergonomics for the human body. Human ergonomics! In other words, the Alexander Technique teaches us to use our body in a way that promotes maximum comfort, efficiency, safety, and productivity. (Please note, some of the “side effects” of using your body in this way include, but are not limited to, a reduction in aches and pains, good posture, increased energy, improved confidence and self-control, enhanced athletic performance, clarity in thinking and greater self awareness.)
Are there activities in your own life that are causing you problems? Have you blamed that activity for the problem (my back hurts because I was doing yard work, my neck is tense because of the traffic on I95…)? And do you think it’s possible that at least part of the cause of these problems has something to do with the way you use your body doing these activities?
It might not be a comfortable question, but the great news is, that if the answer is “yes” (and it probably is more often than you think!), there is something you can do about it! You can learn – or re-learn – to use your body for comfort, efficiency, safety and productivity! The best way I know to do that is the Alexander Technique.