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Alexander Technique in Lewes

with Adele Gibson MSc MSTAT - Tel: 01273 473168

My Blog


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New Alexander session at Phoenix centre

Posted on July 26, 2016 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (114)
New group session for senior Lewes residents

I have just started a weekly Wednesday morning session at the Phoenix day centre in Lewes aimed at older residents and users of the centre. We are also looking to see whether the Techique is helpful for people with dementia.

If you are a senior and live in Lewes why not pop into the centre to see what's on offer.  Apart from Alexander Technique there are art classes, visiting muscians and a healthy daily lunch.  .
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Re: antibiotics for back pain

Posted on June 3, 2013 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (83)

A recent study into the use of antibiotics as a cure for back pain was completed in Denmark and published in the European Spine Journal in early May.  A press conference was held to publicise the findings and newspapers widely reported the research.  The articles claimed that 40% of back pain could be cured by antibiotics, there was even mention that the research could be worthy of a Nobel Prize.  As an Alexander teacher with a particular interest in back pain, I was interested to take a closer look at the findings.

Firstly the BMJ take (14 May 2013):

The trial was a randomised double blind controlled trial of 162 patients with a history of at least six months of low back pain and previous disc herniation that was visible with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).A few news reports urged caution. The Canadian Globe and Mail quoted a physician who said that there were “dozens of causes of back pain” that would not respond to antibiotics. The Independent reported from the press conference: “The examination can only be carried out by a practitioner trained to recognise the changes and distinguish pain caused by infection from that due to other causes.”Martin Underwood, professor of primary care research at Warwick Medical School and who has chaired National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on low back pain, told the BMJ, “These are promising preliminary findings, but it is too soon to start changing practice on their basis until they have been replicated in other studies and in other populations.” He went on, “These findings are only relevant to a small minority of people with chronic back pain who have both degenerative changes and evidence of modic changes.”

From BMJ responses: G Lorimer Moseley – Clinical Scientist – University of South Australia - replies

I believe that chronic back pain is a multifactorial problem. I believe that persistent pain is associated with changes in sensitivity throughout the nociceptive neuraxis, and with multiple system dysfunction. I believe that persistent pain is evidence that the brain still concludes that a body part needs protecting and working out why this is the case can be very very difficult. I believe the evidence in support of my position is very compelling. It is difficult for people in pain to accept this position because it implies that the journey to recovery will necessarily be a long and difficult one, rather than a short and easy one.This is not the first study to claim a simple cure for back pain – a recent example is that of an RCT of injecting blue dye into the disc, which had better outcomes than the antibiotic study, and was accompanied by an editorial raising the possibility that is was a ‘cure’1, but it didn’t get anything close to the hype that the antibiotic paper did (perhaps including ‘Nobel’ in the media release was the key). We must remember that patients probably don’t hear the qualifying statements that put the idea of ‘cure’ into context – they just have a new reason to hang on to an outdated model of their chronic pain.

From Rheumatology Update:

A widely publicised study which claimed antibiotics could relieve up to 40% of lower back pain failed to disclose its authors’ potential conflicts of interest, it has emerged.Three authors did not state they serve on the board of a UK company that receives money to certify doctors in antibiotic therapy.The publicly-listed Modic Antibiotic Spine Therapy Academy, or MAST Academy, charges £200 ($310) to certify doctors in how to identify and treat modic back pain with antibiotics. Clinicians can alternatively take an online course for £100 ($155).The authors claimed that the cause of up to 40% of lower-back pain was a common infection in the vertebrae that could be cured by antibiotics.The randomised double-blind trial concluded that 100 days of amoxicillin with clavulanic acid reduced disability and pain compared to a placebo in 162 patients with chronic lower back pain associated with vertebral bone edema.Dr Michael Vagg, a pain specialist at Deakin University, told Fairfax Media that while the link between bacterial infections and some back pain was plausible, the authors had not shown that the infection in question was the cause of the patients’ pain.“They don’t have the science to entitle them to make the sort of claims they’re making,” he said.

It would seem that the newspapers were guilty of hype and some of the writers were guilty of a lack of serious scientific investigation.  We know that back pain can be attributed to a number of causes and the most common cause is muscle spasm.  Disc related injuries are less common.   In our work as Alexander Teachers we work with correcting misuse – a term which covers how we use our bodies in all our daily activities and includes posture, movement and breathing.  Our own MRC sponsored trial showed that the incidence of back pain could be reduced by 86% by having Alexander lessons.    
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Gardening with a little Alexander Technique know-how

Posted on May 2, 2012 at 2:57 PM Comments comments (80)
Your garden can be your pride and joy or your source of pain!  Here are some tips which can help you to enjoy your gardening without straining yourself.

1.       If you can, try to do a little and often – an hour 3 times a week rather than 3 hours on one day.  If you only have one day free to garden then take regular breaks – say after every hour of work – sit down and enjoy your garden. (Or even better, lie down in semi-supine  (a favourite Alexander Technique position  i.e. with 3 paperback books under your head, your feet about hip width apart and your knees bent up and allow your back to open up and your shoulders to relax).
2.       Mix it up – by varying the tasks that you do you will use different muscles and joints so will minimise the risk of straining a particular area of your body.  Try to do a bit of weeding, a bit of cutting back, and then maybe trim the edges of your lawn. 
3.       A lot of work can be done kneeling (use a cushion) or even sitting.  If you have to bend then bend using your hips and knees rather than bending from the waist or rounding your shoulders.  Try not to overreach but get up and move closer and when you do get up take the time to stretch and open up if you have been crouching.
4.       Be gentle with yourself – by avoiding strains you can come back and do some more tomorrow.  Try to be aware of how you are using your body – if you feel strain then stop right away and take a break – walk around, sit down or best of all do some lying down semi-supine style.
5.       Take breaks before you get exhausted.  Take pleasure in the activity you are doing – take time to notice the opening buds, the insects, birds and butterflies.
6.       Try gardening with a friend and take turns on whose garden you work on.  You are much less likely to overdo it if you are relaxed and chatting at the same time. You could even form work teams to tackle big jobs together and help each other out.
7.       If you find you have overdone it then take 20 minutes to lie down in semi-supine.  Try not to panic that just adds more tension, instead think of your muscles releasing and let your shoulders open out.   When you get up roll over onto your side first.  Have a few days off and next time go more gently with yourself.
Enjoy your beautiful gardens.
Adele Gibson.
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Walking uphill and against the wind

Posted on April 23, 2012 at 3:33 PM Comments comments (187)
It certainly is breezy at the moment and this morning I was walking straight into the wind and up a steep hill on 
the Downs with my 2 dogs.  Both walking into the wind and up a hill makes you want to lean forwards - this only makes walking more difficult.  Next time you are walking up a hill just try to stay upright - you could think of sending your head up over the hill.  When you lean forwards you are taking your body out of good alignment and therefore making your back muscles work harder.  If you stay upright then your legs do the work of carrying you over the hill and your back won't get so tense.  The hills of Lewes and the South Downs and great places to do some Alexander walking.  Let me know how you get on.

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First post - benefits of lying down in semi-supine

Posted on April 20, 2012 at 3:52 AM Comments comments (353)
Welcome to my blog.  I aim to tell you a bit about how I use the Alexander Technique in my daily life and how you too can improve your own body use.  The one most valuable thing that you can do for yourself on a daily basis is find time to lie down for 10 minutes.  All you need is a carpeted floor and 3 paper back books.  Lie on yoru back with your head on the books and your knees bent upwards with your feet about hip width apart.  This position allows the muscles of your neck and back to release.  I do this every morning after seeing the family out the door and walking the dogs. I find it sets me up for the rest of the day.  But - you can do it whenever it suits your routine - some people like to do it when the get home from work as it helps to let go of any tension that has accumulated during the day.  Good luck!
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