Fibromyalgia, CFS and the Alexander Technique:
Part 4. Inhibition and the Four Concepts
by Dr. Mark Shaw
Concept 3: Allow your legs to release away from the pelvis.
The hip joints are basically where you can feel the crease that occurs in front of the pelvis when you are sitting upright.
This concept of good use for the hips joints and legs is designed to allow the legs to release away from the pelvis.
The muscles extending from the hips to the legs are some of the most powerful in the body, and when held in a state of excess tension they can interfere with free use of the hips and by association strain the lower back.
Release these muscles by thinking of your legs "releasing" away from the pelvis.
You may instantly notice a lengthening of your spine as your hip muscles release and allow better alignment in your lower back with simultaneous effects upwards through your torso.
Concept 4: Allow your shoulders to release out to the sides.
As your torso becomes longer and wider you may already have felt a better balance in your shoulders.
Please never feel the urge to hold your shoulders back. "Shoulders back" is an invention of military origin often recommended as a starting point for postural improvement.
This is one of the military's most unfortunate and damaging cultural creations. It may look good on the parade ground and that is where it should have always remained.
Instead, renew and revisit Concept 1 to let your head balance forward and up and your torso to lengthen and widen, and then finally give the instruction to let your shoulders release out to the sides.
Your shoulder muscles will release, the balance will naturally improve and you will have discovered your ideal shoulder position.
Alongside the 4 concepts of good use, the fundamental principle of the Alexander Technique is "Inhibition", or "pausing before action".
Once we recognize the habits that are causing our tension we will also notice that most of them are instinctive and spontaneous, or put another way the habits have become ingrained into our subconscious.
The only way then to short-circuit these spontaneous bad habits is to stop or pause before every instance where we can identify that the habitual response is about to occur.
This then allows us to activate "choice". We can choose to perform or not to perform a given habitual action.
Inhibition stops us from reacting in a stereotypical instantaneous way, and allows us to perform the impending activity in a new, different, and hopefully correct, released manner.
Do you often feel exhausted without really knowing why? Well here is the reason.
The Autonomic Nervous System of modern man is being over-stimulated on a daily basis.
Walk through a town or city, relaxing in your home whatever your daily life entails. Your ANS is massively over-stimulated in comparison to the level of stimulation it is designed to cope with at an evolutionary biological level.
Remember the industrial society we have developed has largely come about in one hundred years. The motor car, the widescreen TV, the subwoofer hi-fi stereo, the neon lighting and advertisements, the telephone and its noisy little mobile brother.
Examined from the perspective of an evolutionary timeline, human beings have gone from being on a peaceful relaxing tropical beach to being in the loudest brashest nightclub in New York in the space of a millionth of a second.
If you struggle to grasp the concept of inhibition try the following if possible.
Look at a cat stalking its prey. Look at every movement it makes. Every movement is precise and considered. Watch the pause before the strike... the timing is precise. The leap is exact. The cat delays instant gratification to make sure it has the best chance of getting it perfectly right first time.
Small children are the same and have a natural inhibition, but this is unlearned as they copy older children and adults in their quest for instant gratification.
By contrast watch the way adults in Western society rush into situations without due diligence, always making mistakes that could have been avoided.
Examine closely the remarkable phenomenon known as "road rage" whereby people who are taking their time in driving carefully within the correct speed limit are attacked because speed freaks desire to drive faster and more recklessly.
Perhaps the most important facet of inhibition is that it prevents interference with the 4 concepts of good use.
When we allow instant "stress" reactions the 4 concepts are automatically overridden; Shoulders hunch up, the head is pulled back and down rather than forward and up, and the spine compresses.
The interference transfers throughout the body, and we are back to our starting point of poor coordination, muscular tension, postural imbalance and back we go to our Fibromyalgia and CFS symptoms again.
As the pace of life increases daily, it becomes more important to slow down and take your time in making decisions. We have become slaves to time.
The feeling that there is never enough time is the root cause of more tension in society that any other singular factor.
The very act of inhibiting has an immediate calming effect on the entire skeletal, respiratory, nervous and muscle systems, breathing slows and deepens, muscles relax, and ANS over-stimulation reduces.
Inhibition instills a feeling of freedom from the constraints of time, and allows free choice.
Inhibition releases this stress from your entire nervous system which is struggling badly with the negative effects of continually elevated levels of adrenaline and cortisol.
By releasing this stress we will simultaneously notice a reduction in the levels of the circulating stress hormones which are known to impact negatively on Fibromyalgia and CFS symptoms.
Freedom of choice is one of the most important defining characteristics of humanity. Animals follow their instincts, yet we have the ability to think, reason and override instincts if we choose to do so.
Humans can choose to go against their basic instincts.
The Benefits of inhibition:
It gives you more time to think of the most appropriate ways of performing actions
It helps you prevent over tensing your muscles and allows your natural reflexes to balance and coordinate your body
It gives you time to become aware of any undue stress in you body
It allows you to become aware of habitual actions and allows you to override them
It allows you to say no to taking on a project which might place you under undue stress
It allows you the time to concentrate on implementing the 4 concepts of good use
It allows you to get things right the first time rather than having to go back and correct them afterwards
It encourages deep calming breathing patterns and reduces stimulation of the ANS.
It reduces the circulating levels of negative stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
Think "the concepts of good use and inhibition"
You will not master the 4 concepts and inhibition overnight; rather, you have to work them into your daily activities. Think about them whenever convenient, when driving, when eating, when working at your desk, even when on the toilet and gradually integrate them into your daily life.
Please do not think them to the extent that your focus is taken away from dangerous activities that you may be involved in.
The fear reflex does still have a place in our lives to focus and tunnel our attention into absolute singularity when vital, essential and dangerous activities are being undertaken.
Obviously with the strains and stresses of everyday life you also have to maintain your normal activities, so additionally try to spend 10 minutes a day lying down on the floor reviewing and subconsciously reprogramming these concepts deep into your psyche.
For Fibromyalgia and CFS patients the ideal strategy is to take 10 minutes out at regular intervals during the day to eliminate tension that may be building up toward a trigger point attack.
The timeout also helps replenish the energy banks to keep you going longer.
Similarly a ten minute session before bedtime can eliminate tension and discomfort, and lead to a better sleep cycle so reducing overall fatigue. We all know how more fatigue only leads to more tension, and this is the cycle we are trying to break.
Fibromyalgia and CFS patients can develop such a negative self image due to the trauma of their condition that it can in itself lead to a worsening of postural habits during the illness and so lead to a further depressive change of attitude.
Developing and practicing the concepts of good use can break this chain of events and break the cycle of negative attitudes that only ever serve to maintain and exacerbate our condition.
The Alexander Technique, Fibromyalgia, CFS and Musculoskeletal Balance: Part 1
The Alexander Technique, Fibromyalgia & CFS: Part 2; End Gaining and the Four Concepts of Good Use
Fibromyalgia, CFS, and the Alexander Technique: Part 3: Implementing the Four Concepts
Dr Mark J Shaw. Mark is the author of a new digital book and training manual Beat Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" http://www.BeatFibroAndFatigue.com Mark also publishes in a regular blog at: http://www.BeatFibroAndFatigue.blogspot.com
Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique