Alexander Technique explained through the lens of
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease with no cure (yet!) All Parkinson's management strategies promote movement and an active lifestyle, yet movement is the very cornerstone that is now challenged for new patients. Feeling unsteady, fearing a fall, seeing oneself moving slower, experiencing freezing episodes and resting tremors are all moments of awareness of your neuro-motor system and form part of the disease unfolding into your life : they challenge movement, your experience of moving in the world and ultimately the perception of yourself at its very core. However, these moments of awareness also represent a doorway to knowledge and understanding of yourself as a dynamic being : within them lies an opportunity to explore and organize movement in a different way. These explorations are the field of work of the Alexander Technique.
What else can I do besides taking my medication?
If you have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, you might find the Alexander Technique and the lessons I offer a very helpful tool to adjust to this new component of your life. The learning and application of Alexander Technique skills can help you with :
- emotional symptoms : apathy, feelings of helplessness, loss of confidence and depression - which may all affect a person's ability to face the daily challenges imposed by Parkinson's disease in daily life.
- general physical symptoms : sleep disturbances, tiredness, rigidity in postural tone (which appears as stooped posture), compromised gait and sense of balance
- fine motor skills : smoothness of movement in specific actions (walking, speaking , etc), initiating movement
"Teachers of the Alexander Technique gather details (through observation and light touch) about a person's movements and use this information to direct a person to couple thoughts and muscle activity in a purposeful manner. A relatively small study of people who practised the Alexander Technique showed improved disability and depression ratings."
- Excerpt from Parkinson 360, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
"The reality is that things change ; the question is, how will I perceive that change, and am I willing to go along with it?"
- Michael J.Fox
Lessons will focus on :
- improving your quality of movement in specific actions of daily living (walking, climbing up stairs, speaking, getting up from the floor etc)
- finding support within yourself to move with more control and safety
- initiating movement with composure
- identifying functional patterns that promote ease and efficiency of movement - all important components for maintaining your autonomy and agency in the world.
“Camille greets you as both a student and as a complete dynamic organism, not as a patient with a singular issue to 'cure'. I was at first interested in addressing a nagging neck issue, but with Camille's assistance I came to realize that how I was using my body was the source of the problems.”
- Chris A.
These lessons will not become a crutch to rely on. Their purpose is for you to carve a time and space in your life to develop and own a set of tools that you can refine, grow with and choose to apply in your daily life. The continued application of learnt skills makes Alexander Technique lessons a gift that keeps on giving. It is a very empowering, energizing and joyful process.
"LIGTHEN UP" STUDY
Parkinson's disease (PD) is associated with stooped postural alignment, increased postural sway, and reduced mobility. Alexander technique (AT) is a mindfulness-based approach to improving posture and mobility by reducing muscular interference while maintaining upward intentions. Evidence suggests that AT can reduce disability associated with PD, but a mechanism for this effect has not yet been established. In a single-session study, postural instructions consistent with AT decreased postural sway and axial rigidity, and facilitated smooth initiation of stepping and upright postural alignment in people with Parkinson's disease. Standard "straighten up" postural instructions tended to produce the opposite effect. Mindful movement approaches such as AT may benefit balance and mobility in subjects with PD by acutely facilitating increased upright postural alignment while decreasing rigidity.
"Lighten Up - Specific postural instructions affect axial rigidity and step initiation in patients with Parkinson's disease"
Study first published in February 9, 2015
Authors: Rajal G Cohen; Victor S Gurfinkel; Elizabeth Kwak; Amelia C Warden; Fay B Horak
Full pdf here
The Stallibrass Study
"Most people acquire the habit of focusing on the direct control of muscular effort in order to stand, sit and move. The Alexander Technique provides a different mental approach, which appears to facilitate the activity of brainstem mechanisms that control the automatic adjustment of postural support. It leads to less effort in moving, probably due to improved balance and reduced overall tension. Hence its effectiveness for Parkinson's disease, in which symptoms combine to make movement more of an effort. There is no research-based evidence at present to explain the mechanism of how the Alexander Technique works."
"Randomized controlled trial of the Alexander Technique for idiopathic Parkinson's disease"
Revised manuscript, 3rd July 2002
Authors : C Stallibrass School of Integrated Medicine, University of Westminster, P Sissons Peta Sissons Consultancy, and C Chalmers Department of Statistics, LSE, London, UK
full pdf here
“Camille's practical exercises, knowledge, and patience towards all my questions and doubts won me over. She helped me untangle bad movement habits and I still think of the cues she gave me. She changed my posture, literally and figuratively!”
- Chris B.
“With the increased awareness Camille gave me, I have noticed a broad range of benefits that extend well beyond the neck issue I originally wanted to improve. If you can relate to any of this I can highly recommend visiting Camille to experience this technique and her teaching skills for yourself."
- Chris A.
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"Sure, Parkinson's may be one step forward and two steps back, but I've learned that what is important is making that step count."
- Michael J.Fox
"For in the mind of man lies the secret of his ability to resist, to conquer and finally to govern the circumstances of his life."