Some people seek out Alexander lessons because they are stiff, particularly in their joints. For my pupil Colin, it is the opposite problem. Colin is hyper mobile and some joints cause him pain. Many people have a degree of hypermobility with no problems, but for some it can cause severe pain and affect mobility on the greater sense, knee and ankle pain interfering with walking. So what is it and how do you know if you’ve got it? If, like Colin you can bend your elbow backwards, place your thumb down on your forearm and bend your fingers back at a right angle then you are probably hypermobile. This can have advantages in dancing for example, but beyond a point it can be a problem. For Colin his knees hyperextend and give him pain.
People with hypemobile joints can have a poor sense of where their joints are, so that they don’t realise that they may be standing with their knees pushed backwards creating tremendous pressure on the joints. It is this lack of awareness that bought Colin for lessons. He is in his 30’s and always kept fit, particularly swimming, but his knee pain increased. A friend told him that when he stood on the edge of the swimming pool he looked as if he’d got his knees on back to front! Colin had no idea he was doing this but became aware that he did it whenever he was standing, even when washing up, and that when walking he pushed his knees back.
During his lesson Colin learnt the role of his neck and back in his whole body orientation, although he was very concerned with his knees, he was also misusing his neck badly so it was always tense, locking his head rigidly down onto his shoulders and adding to the downward pressure in his body. His knees were definitely victims of his misuse. The practice of semi supine gave him greater awareness of his muscles and joints and changed his thinking about walking and movement. Over a period of 3 months, Colin has improved his walking enormously and no longer suffers knee pain except when very tired. He takes much greater care with his swimming too, making sure he doesn’t stand in a braced fashion. He hopes to avoid some of the long term problems that hypermobility can bring by using his body well.
- For more information on hypermobility syndrome go to www.hypermobility.org
- The whole body use can contribute to a single joint pain.
- Learning good use can help you manage difficulties.