Alexander Technique Class
||Second and Fourth Wednesdays at 3:15 pm to 4:15 pm
Columbus Center for Movement Studies
3003 Silver Dr
Columbus, OH 43224
||Donna Doellinger, RN, Certified
Alexander Technique Class: What is it and Why should I go?
A lengthy answer to this question is: The Alexander Technique (AT) is an educational process that teaches a person how to use the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity, allowing more energy for all activities and helps to improve freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. So now that I’ve told you that, why should you study it if you have Parkinson’s, especially if you are not having problems with posture and balance yet? Simple, prevention! The focus of the class is to slow the progress of possible things to come and to create movement strategies for things that may be present in your life such as freezing and stutter stepping. People who are most likely to benefit from the study of the AT the most are moderately mobile, non-demented people with Parkinson’s who are interested in a technique for self-help
I have been teaching the National Parkinson Foundation Central & Southeast Ohio’s AT class for 3+ years now and I have found that the progression of PD causes people to be less aware of themselves, their movements, and their surroundings; it usually causes people to stoop over and often creates an awkward walking gait. PD also magnifies poor posture in people who had poor posture before PD diagnosis. A large focus in the class is teaching people how to achieve the best posture available to them using as little effort as possible. Again speaking to prevention, poor posture in the long run often deteriorates the vertebrae and discs in the neck and spine and can cause significant pain and health issues.
The technique addresses deteriorating awareness, and supports overall coordination, and control of balance and movement through thinking strategies. One of the main thinking strategies is positive awareness. By positive awareness, I mean to internally notice how you are doing any activity, but not critically judging yourself, by keeping a neutral internal awareness of yourself so you know how much effort you are using, and how your posture is, thus giving you the ability to change yourself as you are moving along. I also teach students to observe themselves in space as well as internally. I teach people to scan their surroundings as they walk instead of looking at the ground directly in front of their feet. Scanning helps a person to keep their head up versus looking down at their feet which helps to improve posture and gives you better peripheral awareness of your surroundings.
In the classes, I try to offer a supportive environment for people with Parkinson’s and their partners. I work with care givers to give them verbal cues that they can use to communicate to their partners when they notice them slumping or stutter stepping. I also introduce productive and supportive dialogue between partner and person with Parkinson’s to create agreed upon language and cues between them rather than the person with Parkinson’s always feeling nagged by their partner. I guide partners to get permission from the person with Parkinson’s as to what type of cues they are willing to receive and the frequency of those cues.