First, Jane our osteopath...
“I recently saw a gentleman who had received a hip replacement 8 months previously, but was still unable to carry weight through his hip properly. He also complained of pain in his thighs. On looking at him it was clear that his balance was very poor, he had a tendency to lean backwards when standing and walking which switched many of those postural muscles off and when he did walk he shifted his trunk from side to side is massive proportions.
I sent him out with some simple exercises to try visualising a balloon and learning to sense the ground through his feet. This had the effect on bringing the trunk forward and switching on many of those postural stabilising muscles. He was also asked to try a simple exercise with his feet to encourage better sensory stimulation and help with balance, and finally he was asked to sit on a gym ball with a relaxed upright posture with the weight through his sitting bones and pushing through his feet to create a bounce which encourages glute activity. Two weeks later he made fantastic progress, massively improved balance, much less sideways shift on walking and the pain in his thighs had gone!
Similarly I saw a gentleman who wanted advice on posture when playing the drums as he found that quick light movement of his foot on the pedal (feathering) was really difficult as he fatigued and lost control really quickly. Again in a seated position using a balloon analogy and getting his trunk sitting better over his pelvis and weight bearing equally through his sitting bones meant that his anterior and posterior chain muscles started working better with. He was then using bigger muscles to control the movement rather than fatiguing smaller ones. Now he has much more control with less effort!”
Now Roy, our Alexander Technique teacher...
Back in the summer I took on a new client who was at his wits end. The previous year, he'd lost both his big and second toe in an accident and not surprisingly, had difficulties walking following two operations. As a man in his early 60s with a manual job he was worried about his future and ability to continue working until his retirement.
At his first appointment he struggled to walk the short distance from the reception area to my practice room. He was bent forward, limped and had to use his hands for support on the wall. Unfortunately, whilst he been given exercises in his short rehab sessions, no one had given him advice on how to walk with the changes to his weight-bearing points.
The first thing I did was to adjust his upper body to bring his torso back and give him a sense of the support he got from his heels. We achieved this by visualisng balloons inflating under his armpits to open him up the front of his torso so he didn't collapse forward.
Next, we focused on the weight-bearing points under his feet, three on the right, and two on the left under his injured foot. I asked him to be aware of the ground pushing back up against his feet and the support that provided. Once he felt more comfortable standing, we started to walk by concentrating on the heel to ball contact of the feet as they 'stroked' across the floor and again the push back in response to his weight.
When combined with the idea of a thread pulling him up from the top of the head, he started to move in a more upright and relaxed position and felt more confident with his balance. He's had two more sessions since and each time I can see an improvement in his movement and confidence. The more he can walk like this, the more his muscles will strengthen and adapt to compensate for his injury. The beauty of this method is that he doesn't have to set aside his valuable time for exercises, he just needs to go about his daily activities with a mind to how he's walking - something he says he finds easy!