Physical Therapy Vs Alexander Technique

I’ve become much more active over the past three years. Rising cholesterol and blood sugar levels convinced me I had to get more exercise. So I’ve been taking yoga and riding my white steed across the internet, doing battle with dark knights and rescuing damsels in distress.

During the course of my adventures, I’ve tweaked various things.

In February 2009, I was recommended to a great physical therapist — Lyn Paul Taylor in downtown Los Angeles.

After about six sessions, he undid most of the damage I’d done to myself in my first month at yoga (where I strained various ligaments and hurt my feet and my ego).

One romantic weekend in April, I went away to the beach with my girlfriend of the time and we methodically performed over Shabbat the first 47 positions in the Kama Sutra (“a guide to a virtuous and gracious living that discusses the nature of love, family life and other aspects pertaining to pleasure oriented faculties of human life”). At one point, she was….

When I came home on Monday and tried to walk some books back to the library, my back went out and I fell to the ground. It was most embarrassing.

The next day I went to physical therapy and Lyn told me not to swing girls around when they’d clambered on to my waist and I was holding them up with my hands under their hips and…

He brought the staff in to look at the damage I’d wreaked to my back.

Theoretically, I could’ve walked around in agony for six weeks while I Alexandered my way out of trouble, but I needed a quick fix.

Over the next three years as penance for my sins, I threw myself into the Patrick MacDonald approach to the Alexander Technique and found this caused great strain on my knees. Instead of being moderate, I sometimes worked to excess and frequently tweaked things, precipitating more trips to Lyn Paul Taylor who put me back together again.

Living in pain did not appeal to me and taking the long slow Alexander boat to freedom was not as compelling as Lyn’s speedy Concorde to relief (often as rapid as Air France Flight 4590’s journey from take-off to hotel).

In the spirit of ecumenical learning from other disciplines, I present the highlights of the following podcast: “Diana Rumrill, a Physical Therapist, in Washington, DC, talks with Robert Rickover about ways in which the Alexander Technique can complement Physical Therapy.”

Diana: “Alexander Technique empowers the person. A lot of physical therapy relies on the practitioner. The physical therapist assesses what needs to be stretched and what needs to be strengthened. The Alexander Technique takes feeling better and moving better and puts it into the hands of the person.”

Robert: “There are people who don’t want that kind of responsibility. And there’s no point in trying to force it on them.”

Diana: “Right! It’s just going to end up frustrating everybody.”

Robert: “The medical model in America is that you come to the medical professional and they treat you. There’s not a lot of emphasis on teaching you to take charge of yourself. The Alexander Technique does ask you to take charge of yourself.”

“There are pre-existing conditions where in theory the Alexander Technique will change over time. The amount of time might be many reincarnations long. You’d be better off to resort to physical therapy.”

Diana: “Musicians tend to have gotten where they are because they’re intelligent and focused and ready to put in long hours of practice to reach an ideal of sound. Those same characteristics can set them up for strong ingrained painful habits.”

Robert: “Musicians can be incredibly knowledgeable about their instrument but haven’t thought through some basic stuff about their body, the instrument that plays their instrument. They can get focused on their instrument and lose track of themselves.”

About Luke Ford

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