What happens when people are in pain?
The first thing you do is hold your breath. If you stub your toe, the first thing you do is gasp! And hold your breath.
And when we’re in pain the next thing we do is tighten up. Sometimes that’s a good thing; the body is protecting the injured part. But when pain itself is the problem, tightening up only makes it worse; one physician told me that it makes pain ten times worse when you tighten up.
Being in chronic pain is a problem in and of itself; whatever the underlying cause, the pain itself needs to be managed.
If you tighten up and hold your breath, the pain is likely to hurt worse. And that creates a vicious cycle; pain hurts, tighten up, that makes it hurt more, tighten up some more.
When you want to break the cycle, medication is often the first place we look. But medicine has side effects and it can also lose its effectiveness, over time. The body becomes used to it and needs more and more to do the same job.
People often turn to alternative methods.
One way that has helped many people is the Alexander Technique. The Technique is a hands-on, educational method for neuro-muscular re-education.
OK, you ask, what does that mean in English? And since it’s an educational method, how does it help with pain management, anyway?