Not WHAT we do but HOW we do it: taking the strain away

keyboard with red stop keys

Last week I told you about how I started learning Alexander Technique in a last-ditch attempt to save my quality of life. I was suffering from RSI-like symptoms in my arms that didn’t respond to treatment from any health professional, and that was preventing me from working or doing any of my most-loved leisure activities. Like FM Alexander, I started to wonder if my problem wasn’t responding to medical treatment because it didn’t have a medical cause. I started to wonder if it was something I was doing that was causing my problems.

Okay, so I did a lot of arm-related activities. I used a computer every day for writing and research. I played recorder. I would knit most evenings, and I did a lot of cooking. But I knew lots of people who did just as many activities with their hands, or even more, and they weren’t suffering. So what was the difference? Why was I struggling?

Not what you do…

In order to discover the source of the hoarseness that was jeopardising his acting career, FM Alexander stood in front of a mirror and watched himself speak and recite. He realised that there must be something about the way he was going about the activity that was causing his problem. And after a lot of observation and experimentation, he discovered that there was a particular pattern of the way he organised his head in relation to his body during reciting that seemed to get in his way. It was HOW he was doing the activity that was causing his trouble.*

But how you do it…

Same with me. It wasn’t the computer that caused my problems. It was HOW I was using it. I was using too much force, and putting it into lots of areas where it was just inefficient and unnecessary.

What about you? Pick an activity that interests you, or that causes you trouble. And then do what FM did: have a good hard look at it. How are you doing that activity? Are you using too much energy? Are you using energy in the right places? What one thing could you change today? Make an experiment, and let me know how you get on.


* FM Alexander, The Use of the Self in the Irdeat Complete Edition, p.413.
Image by Stuart Miles,