Did you know, the Alexander Technique can help you sit better at work, which means you’ll feel less achey and tired at the end of the day?
One of the problems with working remotely, or working hybrid/agile, is that it's too easy to sit badly.
Now that we're working from home (or wherever!) we have a newfound freedom to choose to sit and work wherever we want. But the problem is that with great freedom comes great responsibility. A responsibility to ourselves, to look after our posture and our own well-being.
In fact I'm seeing that many people are moving less now they’re out of the office, than they were when they were in the office.
This is a great shame, so here are some of the ways that Alexander technique can help you to improve how you feel at the end of the day, and a quick primer so you can try it out for yourself.
Firstly I’d better tell you what the Alexander Technique actually is. Even now, with the popularity of mindfulness and self-care techniques going through the roof, there are many people who haven't heard of it, and you might be one of them!
It's a kind of mindful self-awareness in which you pay attention to how you move, sit, stand and work throughout the day - so it's useful because you can apply it whilst you're working, as opposed to having to stop work to do things to recover from the way in which you've been working.
There are loads of Alexander teachers all around the world happy and willing to help you learn how to sit comfortably without discomfort or pain, which is great if you're starting to struggle.
It’s useful for you even if you haven't got any problems at all.
Every week I help people with good posture and bad posture, with good ergonomics and bad ergonomics, and guess what (between you and me!), there are people with bad posture and bad ergonomics who just get away with it. Yup, no problems at all.
And there are some people with good posture and good ergonomics who will still struggle a bit. You probably hurt a bit, and are somewhere in the middle, I’m guessing.
It's a roll of the dice, if you're going to be comfortable or not, which is weird when you think about it. So the best thing we can do is get ourselves sitting or standing as best we can, and having the environment around us configured just right for us, as individuals, as best we can.
And that's what pleased me about Nexstand, that they’re more interested in the health, happiness and well-being of their customers, than they are in just providing an ergonomic solution.
I like that their K2 stand brings the screen up to a much better height than many other available laptop stands on the market - it's a great idea, really good for your back and neck, and I'm surprised it isn't replicated more frequently.
You can see my full Nexstand laptop stand review at www.posturestars.com.
So do you fancy trying some Alexander Technique right now? Awesome! Let's have a go!
We always start with our necks, because this is where so many of us hold tension. It is where our startle pattern, our “fight or flight” response tends to cause us to tighten up. And let's face it, modern life does tend to always hassle us a lot!
So, think of letting go of tension in your neck, and at the same time allowing your head to rise upwards in space. Your nose could drop ever so slightly, or your chin could drop ever so slightly, but don't tighten or put effort in at the front of your neck!
The affirmation we use is “let the neck be free to allow the head to go forwards and up”.
By “forwards and up” we don't mean pointing your face forwards and up, not that!
We do mean allowing the top of your skull to tend to release forwards and upwards, as your neck comes back a little, in a better position over your shoulders. This can be done very gently and sensitively with practise (or ask an Alexander Teacher to show you how).
As you get used to it, you can notice your back start to lengthen as well. Try it now, go on.
This now gives you a good opportunity to sit on your sitting bones, so let's find where they are! You have bones in your butt for sitting on, just like you have feet for standing on!
Have a go at putting both hands, palm up, under your backside, and feel around for the two round bones. They’re in there, I promise!
When you have found them, try mega-slumping and notice that they disappear behind your hands, and try sitting up far too straight so that they disappear away in front of your hands.
You can tell, somewhere in the middle is good support for a relaxed neutral spine, letting your sit bones rest into your chair, leaving your spine nice and long, and your head balancing freely on top of that nice long comfortable spine.
See if you can keep all of that going and at the same time let your hands come round and on to a keyboard to pretend to type. Easy!
And there you have it, comfortable sitting without the effort of sitting up straight (eek, strain!) or the collapse of a lethargic slump (snore!).
There's plenty more to learn in the Alexander Technique, but just this one basic awareness can save you from many of the aches and pains of the working day.
Now that you're looking after your body, it makes sense to fit your environment to you, as best as possible.
Using a laptop stand for your laptop helps bring the screen height to a much better level, so that you're not pulling your neck down, or compressing your spine to look into the screen.
Be sure to use a separate keyboard and mouse this will make a massive difference over the course of a long working day.
Many of you will be working on a full-sized monitor and have the laptop to one side, for Teams calls or Zoom etc.
Even if that's the case make sure your laptop screen height is up around eye level at the top of the screen with a stand.
I’m James Crow, I added ergonomics to the Alexander Technique to do a better all-round job.
And I must say, it’s truly great to see companies like Nexstand selling ergonomic tools with a more rounded approach to health, happiness and wellbeing in their customers – about time!
So how are you now, are you sitting comfortably?