Monthly Archives: December 2014

Which Came First?

Which came first? Bad posture or weak muscles?

Many people who go to the gym or P.T. believe that they have muscles that need to be strengthened. “My core is weak,” “I have weak abdominals.” “My posture is bad/neck hurts/I can’t sit comfortably for long/I hurt myself because of weak…(fill in the blank)” They think strengthening the weakness will resolve the issue. In the short run, it can sometimes help. But all of the diligence at the gym also increases strain and tension, eventually leading to more discomfort and pain. Then people believe they aren’t doing enough and work even harder, especially if they initially had some relief or success when they started working out. The good news is that fitness training is becoming more whole body oriented, but the common belief is still that effort should always be dialed up, more, more, more. Few seem to be talking about the role of your brain the the coordination of your muscles.

Weak muscles are because of strong habits. Changing a habit is potentially more effective than adding 12 more reps to a workout. In fact, working harder reinforces bad habits. Use the Alexander Technique to learn how to dial down on excess tension in overused muscles, and to move your body more skillfully. Skillful movement will reduce the dynamic of excess tension/weakness. Then you can take your new skill to the gym and work-out smarter.


A friend with smarts about brains tells me there is a neurological reason for procrastinating. As an Alexander Technique teacher, I’d say that my procrastination is a habit which, because it feels familiar, feels like the ‘right’ or only possible way to get things done. My friend’s suggestions for developing a system to get tasks done more efficiently seem terribly regimented and tedious and drain the spontaneity I crave out of the process. A tremendous resistance arises when I begin to try to implement any of his suggestions. Even thinking about trying some of his ideas causes me to check-out, go into avoidance mode, and distract myself from my work. The only time I can seem to get anything done is if there is time pressure, or a burst of inspiration that has a feeling of urgency to kick me into gear. Methodical, organized, disciplined action seems impossible. I crave the urgency, the rush, of rushing.

When I lie on the floor in semi-supine to rest I am practicing the art of not rushing, not forcing. This brings me a great sense of ease, yet doesn’t quite help me to get up to go and adopt the methodical approach to work that my friend recommends. I must commit myself to the discomfort of trying a new system that does not give the familiar rush, and therefore feels ineffective, even scary. New results are promised, but I need to work out for myself the motivation for taking the leap of faith.