Preventing and Alleviating Headaches With the Alexander Technique

There are many reasons why headaches occur. And I am not a physician—so I am not here to speculate on that. As an Alexander Technique teacher, I can only talk about how to prevent them from coming on, or manage the pain once it has set in.

Tension is the language of the Alexander Technique, and though that word can be used in a general manner, one way or another it translates into muscular tension. When we feel like we are tense, or undergoing emotional tension, for example, though there may be strong thought patterns behind the emotional disease, it is the muscle tension (clenching, grabbing, tightening, stiffening of muscles) that causes or in the least exacerbates physical discomfort. So, when one is undergoing a headache, even if it feels connected to stressful emotions—worry, anxiety, fear, nervousness, etc. —when one comes out of muscle tension, particularly around the upper part of the body (back of skull, face, jaw, throat, neck, shoulders, ribcage) a headache can often be prevented, and alleviated. The worst of it can for sure be shaved for as long as one is employing the release of tension (the education of the Alexander Technique).

This is an educational practice, a unique one. It will teach you how to come out of a full-bodied muscular contraction you did not even know you were in. This inner compression occurs unconsciously—as reaction to stimuli all day long—and in the least, exacerbates pain syndromes to an extent that can make life challenging and often unbearable. We tend to identify with pain and discomfort—assuming we know what it is coming from. But it is the unconscious inner squeezing of our muscular body that really puts things over the edge, of which we are generally unaware.

The Alexander Technique is taught as something to apply to the use of your body all day long—while you are engaged in your activities, not just as an isolated exercise. It is awareness based and must be practiced. As a teacher, it is my job to customize the information to suit the way you learn, and to assist you in easily connecting it to the specific ways you relate to and use your body. It is not a formula but brings your attention to ways you muscle up and apply needless effort to even the smallest tasks. Though we may feel pain in certain places, that is not indicative of where and how we are contracting muscles. And that is what is enlightening about the awareness. A real, “Wow” sometimes as “I really had no idea I was putting pressure on myself that way.”

Alexander’s unique understanding of the relationship of the head to the spine/torso, and its natural, effortless coordination with the rest of the body (hips, legs, feet, arms, wrists, hands) contributes greatly to our learning about where and how we are pushing and compressing in our muscles that is interfering with this ease, and then spiraling up to cause our headaches, for example. This won’t necessarily make sense on an intuitive level, but absolutely reads as truth once one comes out of the tension reactivity and feels the release of pain. The proof is in the practice, and one must see for themselves!

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