11.08.06: AT Lesson Up Stairs and Down

We had our Alexander lesson after meeting a friend for a late lunch and to pick up diffusers from her to use with the essential oils. I am excited to try them out and see if I notice a difference. As we were leaving from the restaurant the bottom fell out, and we managed to make it without getting too wet. By the time we were at Wendy's house, the rain was almost gone. 
She started with me upstairs, and I filled her in on all the details of life in the past few weeks. I told her about the body work from Friday evening as well as how I was feeling for the day. I noticed I must have tweaked something in my elbow, probably while riding, but I wasn't sure what it was. She started with a little bit of work while sitting, reconnecting me with how my body was feeling and where I was in space. She helped to reset things a little bit before she put me up on the table to repeat the processes as before, and to help remind the brain of the trigger words that help to reset the body's posture and position. I felt much more comfortable, and when I got up from the table and walked around a bit, it felt so easy and effortless. It strikes me that functioning in our normal lives, we don't even realize the effort we expend to do the simple tasks. Our barometer gets skewed and a certain level of effort becomes normal so we aren't able to recognize that it is taking extra effort. 
She paused me to work a little more on my posture, and commented that I was holding the wide back and balance from the core very well, which may have been a result of the body work. It seems that I'm able to stick with the good things for longer moments. I just get anxious to have it all now! Never mind that its taken 26 years to create these patterns!
After she worked a little more with me sitting in the chair, helping me to find the right foot placement for sitting in the chair that helped to put the pelvis in the correct position, which in turn creates comfort in the body, she took me to the stairs. Her stairs are a bit of an extreme challenge - they are very narrow and steep being an old victorian house. She gave me some guidance to follow in thinking about moving up and down the stairs. The key is to always keep the concept of upward in the brain as you move, whether it is down the stairs or bending over. Keeping the thought of lengthening the body helps to maintain the correct function of all the parts without collapsing. Coming down the stairs, the key is to think of bending the knees forward (the knees lengthen away from the hips) to prevent the typical up-down hitch that most people adapt when they move down the stairs. It creates a much smoother movement, which is overall better for the joints and body. It was easier for me to maintain the balance coming down onto my right foot, which is where I typically want to "drop" heavily because of the pain in my left knee. It was easier, but will take much practice. I have plenty of that on the 5 flights of stairs I can use at work! Going up is similar, though again, the joints are mobilized to reduce the up-down hitching that is common. The weight doesn't come to fully rest on the heel, when that happens, the hitch is almost inevitable because now the weight has to be shifted forward and lifted again. So by keeping the feet more active, and not allowing the weight to settle deep into the heel, it is easier to move more smoothly up the stairs, again thinking knees releasing away from the hips and coming forward.
We finally returned down the stairs all the way and went back to where Jim was waiting on the couch. We brought the cane with us this time (we remembered!) and were able to have her really evaluate him and give him more guidance on how to use the cane to get the full advantage of the 60% weight transfer that is possible when using a can properly. He started out looking and seeming awkward. As I suspected she ended up raising the cane two notches, and once he experimented with his grip, and his stance, and how to step forward correctly, it began to look effortless and easy. He really hasn't moved that easily in a long time, so I am pleased that he was able to find some comfort in it. It will take practice, but he improved some much that it was obvious that the cane will do him quite a bit of good prior to his surgery when he needs the extra support.
Our lessons keep getting better and better, and I look forward to the next one every time!
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11.08.13: DO What You've Been Taught