Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My first aid course and posture

I successfully renewed my first aid certificate recently. It was a great opportunity to reflect on our posture when we sit, stand and lie down.

This certificate enables my clients to claim Alexander Technique lessons on health insurance, just like physiotherapy or remedial massage. It is hard to imagine when first aid training might be needed in my clinic. No regrets though, as it will help if I'm on the scene of an accident. And there is always a slight possibility of someone having a fall or heart attack in benign circumstances.

The recent training course raised questions of posture, including how the head sits on top of the spine.

The instructor was in his 40s, he moved well. He rarely stood still, and rarely with his two feet parallel. Think Tai chi, boxing or a martial art - one foot was usually behind the other, and pointing to the side. Try it!

Others in the room did not move so well, and are likely to have more postural problems in later life. For long periods, many held a slump, crossed legs, or were twisted. Their spine would be curved in the wrong places, the deep postural muscles running along the back of the spine would not be used effectively, and other muscles would be compensating. OK for a short time, but I suspect it is habitual with these people. A few didn't even stand up during the short breaks. Scientific research now suggests two minutes walking for every 20 minutes of sitting.

I found some interesting points in the written material. How to turn an unconscious, injured person onto their side so that their air passages don’t block is a core part of the training:  “Make sure you are rolling the body not twisting the spine”. The head needs to stay in alignment with the spine to minimise risks in case the neck has broken.

In our everyday life, this alignment of head and spine is also vital for long-term health, which is why it is central to the teaching of Alexander Technique.

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