Alexander Technique with Bradley Newman Alexander Technique with Bradley Newman

The Word on Exercise, Posture and Mums

I’ve been doing some work with Cathy Lloyd-Prowse lately, from Mum’s the Word Fitness. She runs exercise classes for mums, and soon-to-be mums, in Sydney’s Inner West. Exercise can help us in many ways - fitness, general health, strength - but it can also harm us if we are not careful when we do it. And this is where Alexander Technique comes in.

Alexander Technique and Exercise

The Alexander Technique teaches people to hold and move their bodies efficiently - it increases awareness of what you are actually doing with your body, and it improves your ability to use your body as you want to. This is very important for exercise. You may be getting wonderful cardiovascular benefit from your training, but if you are compressing your spine when you train then you will be doing damage, which may lead to pain. This is also true with strength training. You don’t wish to be strengthening certain muscles while at the same time straining others, or squashing your neck or back in the process.

Some tips and thoughts

1. Be aware

When you are in a lunge do you know what your shoulders are doing? When you are lifting a weight, do you know what your neck is doing? If you don’t, then you won’t know if they are in a helpful position or a harmful one. Develop an awareness of your whole body whenever you exercise, and realise that every exercise always involves your whole body. Just because you’re only moving your arm, it doesn’t mean you can forget about your neck, and your knees – they may be getting tense or damaged and you won’t notice if you don’t think about them. So learn to be aware of your whole body.

2. Stay lengthened

Many of us habitually shorten ourselves when exercising – we squash and stiffen our necks, and perhaps round or over-arch our backs. You may achieve your short-term goal of doing a lunge or a squat, or lifting a medicine ball, but it will be at a cost - it will be hurting your spine, gradually working it into a compressed state where pain may result. So, think of allowing your spine to stay lengthened while you lunge, or lift. You will still achieve what you set out to do but now your whole body will benefit.

3. Stop and think

Before you launch into a squat, a lift, or a run, take a moment to stop and think. Stop: to make sure you haven’t just taken off in an old habit, which may be damaging. Think: to become aware of what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to use your body to do it. If you know you always tighten your neck when you lunge, then just before you lunge you want to stop and think; stop the old way, think about not tightening your neck this time. The old way will become just that – old - and you’ll develop a new way – a lengthened way.

4. Believe your eyes (or someone else’s) but maybe not your feelings

If you’ve always tightened your neck when doing that lunge, it may now feel so familiar that you won’t notice it – it’s come to feel like a normal part of doing that movement. But someone watching will see exactly what you are doing, and so will you in a mirror, or in a video. So listen to people when they tell you what you’re doing, even if you don’t feel yourself moving in the way they say you are. And even better, get someone to video you training and watch it back. Then you’ll see what’s really going on and you can change it. And you can check every now and then to see if you really have changed the old, familiar way to a new, efficient way.

Enjoy your exercise

Enjoy what you’re doing, and hopefully these Alexander Technique tips will help you stay healthy through your whole body while you’re exercising.

Cathy Lloyd-Prowse from Mum’s the Word Fitness runs exercise classes in Sydney’s Inner West for mums and soon-to-be mums. For more information email .

Bradley Newman teaches the Alexander Technique in Sydney. For more information see or email Bradley on .