How Alexander Technique helped my hand/wrist/arm problems. Part 1: The Problem

My wrist problems seemed to start in 2003 when I was spending a year studying music at the Kodály Institute in Kecskemét, Hungary. Eager to make the most of my time there I decided to do an extra hour of piano practice every day. I could feel that a particular stretch was uncomfortable but I persisted with the practice playing through the pain. Then one day I opened my window and wrenched my wrist and for the following years II seemed to have constant tingling, numbness and weird pains that shifted around my hands, fingers and arms; often I felt that I couldn’t hold a pen to write.

I came back to London and tried a variety of osteopaths, cranio-sacral and traditional, and occasionally acupuncture. Eventually in 2012 I went to the doctor who sent me for some physiotherapy. The physiotherapist conducted diagnostic tests on range of movement, and nerve sensations and settled on a diagnosis of 'something wrong in the T4 area', she palpated my upper back a bit and gave me a sheet of exercises, one of which was to pull my shoulders back and together. After that didn't do much for me overall I was prescribed 6 exercise sessions in a gym at Kings College hospital. Again, this was interesting and fun but still didn't change the changeable experiences of pain, tingling, numbness in my hands, wrists and arms.

By this time I had decided to start training to be an Alexander technique teacher, but I was a little maddened by how half hearted the treatment for a problem that was having a significant impact on my life was. I went back to my GP and she referred me to have an MRI scan. The result, pictured here shows a definite sideways 'kink' in my upper spine, scoliosis. Looking at this picture I could see how the muscles on one side of my neck had tightened, slightly raising my left shoulder (on the screen the right side of the picture is my left side). The senior physiotherapist who talked me through the scan result said it wasn't really a problem because I was countering the bend in my thoracic spine by curving my neck in the opposite direction.

We agreed that this was probably at the root of all my upper limb issues. No further treatment was offered to me but as I was about to start Alexander Technique training that wasn't a problem for me.

In my next post I will talk about how Alexander Technique worked in my ongoing recovery from these problems.

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'After every lesson with Kathy, I felt more relaxed, centred, and whole. Kathy has wonderful hands; warm, sensitive and in control. Through the lessons, I became more attuned to my own posture and habits, so that I was able to adjust my working practice towards a more healthy and sustainable one.' Rachel. Visual Artist

Having Alexander Technique sessions with Kathy made me more aware how the my body works. This gave me an insight as to how to improve everyday movement. I learned something new every lesson. 

Nao. Performer and Theatre Technician

Kathy is kind and patient and I always leave the lessons feeling a bit more free in my body. I have back pain from scoliosis. (After lessons) I find that the pressure on my back is noticeably reduced. Alexander Technique will make you more curious about the way you move and why when doing habitual things. And the lessons are always with a sense of humour too.

Alex Lawther, Actor

Kathy’s such a skilled teacher, bringing insight and humour to guide gently in using the body in much more skilful ways. I’ve seen a huge difference in higher levels of energy - and lower levels of pain - since working with her. And it’s a lot of fun too!

Damian, Policy Advisor, City of London

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