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Alexander Technique at work

Sitting at the computer

Much of our life – in education and in the work-place – is spent sitting. However, our bodies need activity and so sitting should be as active as possible. An understanding of how the spine can support itself via the pelvis is part of the solution. Fine-tuning the ergonomics to facilitate "active" sitting is a key part in mitigating the worst effects of a largely sedentary lifestyle.

Some limitations of HSE Guidance

Current Health and Safety Executive thinking does not start from how people can and should be (with intelligent help) but how they have become – the normal slumped posture which tends to deteriorate over the years. Reliance on the immediate sense of what is "comfortable" makes it harder, if not impossible, to cultivate a life-long ease of sitting.

Seat base, angle and height play the pivotal role in the New Ergonomics. Contrary to HSE guidelines – which start with the adjustment of the screen – we start with the chair; the monitor and the rest of the work-station needs to be adjusted to suit that individual supported actively on a chair correctly but flexibly adjusted for them. For example, a tall person needs to sit on a higher seat and this requires the use of desk raisers. It makes no sense in the long run to encourage them to lower their chair so that the rest of the work-station is at the "correct" height.

A way forward

For more than 20 years, I have taught hundreds of individuals an Alexander-informed ergonomics so that they can cope better with the stresses of the workplace. I have also provided customised training programmes and work-station assessments to a range of public and private bodies in Norfolk. Clients have included: Norwich Union, Virgin Money, Fielder and Mawson Architects, University of East Anglia, Town Close School and Online Media Group.

Such training tends to lessen work-related stress:

  • prevent RSI problems
  • reduce headaches, back pain
  • increase alertness and powers of concentration

Manual Handling

Many jobs require some bending and lifting. Most training offered comes down to "bend your knees and keep your back straight". That's easy to remember but very limited.

An Alexander approach to this issue would be to convey a more dynamic idea of the use of the body as a whole, including the need to release up and back out of the hips so that the legs fold underneath the body.

Clients have included the National Health Service and carers groups (Social Services).

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