Monday, October 31, 2011

My big floppy feet

Some of us are carried into adulthood by big floppy feet that became part of us as teenagers. Alexander Technique continues to change my walking habits.

Distinctive walking styles

Look around, and you will see that everyone walks a little differently. Even though her eyesight is very poor, my mother can pick me out from quite a distance away. My feet splay out, while the knees tend to come together. I also bounce along. Wearing thongs, my heels tend to fall off the inside edges.

Recent advice

At an international meeting of Alexander teachers in Germany, I recently had a lesson with Glenn Swift, a teacher from Western Australia who also teaches internationally.

After observing me for a few minutes, Glenn suggested that I change my thinking about my feet in a subtle, but very effective, way. He realised that my thinking centred on bringing the feet inwards so the toes aligned with the knees. He proposed instead that I think about how taking the heels further apart might change the alignment. As we discussed this, Glenn used gentle hands to guide me in and out of the chair. Immediately, I knew we’d made a big break-through – I noticed that my lower back was widening rather than narrowing.

The feet move with the rest of us

Glenn was the person who a year earlier had encouraged me to work with Alexander’s full set of directions – allow the neck to be free, in such a way that the head moves forward and up, and in such a way that the back can lengthen and widen. I find it very useful to occasionally work with these directions, and remind myself that the directions are thoughts, not physical actions.
Here are some additional pointers that I have found useful, especially when standing or sitting :
·         Allow release at the hips and ankles
·         Knees move forward when standing, so the thighs don’t tense
·         Knees move over the feet, not inwards
·         Think about softening in front of the ankles
These are suggestions to play around with. Seek medical advice before trying them if you have pain, and ask an Alexander Teacher for lessons.

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