I Sometimes Push Too Far

I’ve been getting into squats the last few weeks. I heard they were good for you.

The other day while talking with a friend, I did a ton of squats.

A little while later, my left knee started bothering me. By last night, the pain was intense. I even stayed home from synagogue this morning to see if rest would help. It didn’t.

So I broke down and visited physical therapist Lyn Paul Taylor. He’s the best. He fixed my problem right up. He warned me against doing squats. They can loosen the ligaments in and around the knee, making them easier to break. Loosened ligaments don’t just snap into place. They stay loose.

So I know that people in India eat meals in squats and carry on conversations in squats, but if you didn’t grow up doing squats, don’t launch into doing them in your old age as I did. Luckily I didn’t do too much damage to myself this time.

I remember when I started yoga in January 2009, I tried to keep up with the teachers and I did myself a lot of damage, loosening up many ligaments in my feet in particular. It took me about $1600 worth of physical therapy to contain the problem.

I’ve often found the Patrick MacDonald approach to the Alexander Technique hard on my knees. It’s a playful athletic masculine style but I have to be careful about getting too caught up in its challenges to the point that I ignore what my knees are telling me. Of course, if I directed myself better, I wouldn’t put so much strain on my knees.

I tell my Alexander students, “Nothing we do should ever hurt. If you ever start feeling pain, tell me and we’ll stop.” Alexander work should be gentle work. And the more I do of it, the more gentle I am with myself and with other people.

Chair work is a staple of Alexander work and if you do it right, it shouldn’t matter whether or not the chair is there, because without it you’ll just go into a squat. That’s standard Alexander pedagogy. I’d just like to add that going into a squat repeatedly is not a good idea, particularly if you are lifting weights at the same time. A lot of body builders and weightlifters blow out their knees.

The Alexander Technique with Ann Mathews from Thomas Glen Cook on Vimeo.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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