How a small change = a massive shift in pain experienced.

“Don’t get me to bend as my back hurts…..”

When my clients come to me I take a brief history and then we start to look at a simple every day activity like moving in and out of a chair.

When I told a new client Theresa (name changed for client confidentiality) recently that this is what we were going to do she said “Well as long as you don’t get me to bend that’s ok, as I can’t bend because I have a bad back, I can’t even lift up my poor cat who is very ill. I think I might have to have her put down”. I promised not to make her do anything that would be uncomfortable. I kept my promise.

I ask my clients when they come to me in pain “What will happen if we change nothing”. They quickly realise and say “Well I guess NOTHING will change”. Absolutely I say. Alexander Technique is about change, just a tiny little bit at a time.


I observed (no judgement) a couple of things as Theresa went in and out of the chair,  she held her breath stiffened everything especially her neck and then moved. I suggested to Theresa that because she ‘thought it was going to hurt’ to bend, possibly due to previous experience, then it actually did.  She was actually wiring the brain this way. We might say “wiring the brain for pain”
I encouraged her to change just a couple of things, let some air out when she goes into movement like a sigh as in “Ah, cup of tea” I  also encouraged her to un grip and free her neck. This would break the cycle, rewiring the brain.

Theresa was amazed that it didn’t hurt

Immediately Theresa was actually bending (after all moving in and out of a chair is bending). I asked her if she realised that she was actually bending and she was amazed that it didn’t hurt when she changed something about the way she went about it. We did some work on the couch and I enabled her to release even more tension. I didn’t ask her to change too much but let some air out as she moved from sit to stand and vice versa and think about the neck being free. Also to lie down everyday in the position I had shown her.

Theresa was full of the joys of Spring.

The following week when she arrived for her session she was full of the joys of Spring. “I picked up my cat, which i’ve not been able to do for ages” she said. I never asked her to do that but she felt confident that if she changed something about the
way she went about things it might be different.

“Woohoo! Thank you”

After her second session she texted me “Hi Mark after my session I went to buy a pair of jeans. Normally if buying trousers I take them home to try as too scary to bend in changing cubicle. Today I breathed and released before bending to try on and all fine. Woohoo! Thank you”

The thing to remember that if we are stressed (maybe about a sick pet or loved one) we are probably very tense, then we move this over tensed body and this can then hurt. The situation can then spiral. My own experience of pain spiralled and I ended up in front of a surgeon who wanted to operate on a prolapsed disc in my neck. Luckily I found the Alexander Technique which I believe prevented the need for such an invasive treatment (I also know quite a few people who have had an operation but are still in pain).

It is my opinion that the Alexander Technique can really break that cycle of pain. We can indeed rewire our brains.

If you are interested you can book an introductory session online or call 01273 687739 or Book Online.

Mark Claireaux “Change Facilitator”