What is the
Alexander Technique for EDS/HSD?
The Alexander Technique (AT) is an educational practice that increases body awareness during movement so that the neuromuscular system (nervous system’s control of movement) re-patterns in a more efficient and supportive way. The goal is to find freedom and choice in movement that is easy to access for the person when they need it, reducing pain and pressure on the joints and improving ease of activity. AT employs hands-on sensory feedback from teachers and guided awareness and movement activities to assist students in investigating the connection between attention and neuromuscular function. Adaptive AT, the type that we teach for people with EDS/HSD, was developed by Integrating Instability practitioners out of the Balance Arts Center in New York City.
The Adaptive AT curriculum for EDS/HSD at the BAC is a gentle method that enables students to develop safer, more efficient physical patterns of movement and posture. As these new patterns are introduced and practiced, muscles that are in spasm are allowed to release, and supportive muscle tone develops that can decrease the risk of subluxations and dislocations. Students often come out of a lesson or class feeling lighter, in less pain, and more balanced.
Our movement curriculum is based on the idea that every action requires full body coordination, and the way that we think about our bodies influences how we move consciously and subconsciously. Strength is gained by way of safe coordinated movement patterns rather than repetitions, weights, and forced postures that are held against gravity and frequently increase the risk of injury in people with hypermobility. For a student with EDS/HSD, this technique can reorganize their muscular tone in a way that makes moving safer and more effective for their daily needs.
How did a relationship develop
between EDS/HSD and the Alexander Technique?
Hypermobility is very common, particularly amongst dancers and performers who require a significantly greater range of motion and body awareness for vocational purposes. AT teachers frequently work with students with EDS/HSD (whether the student is aware of it or not) both because dancers seek AT practice out and because performers often exhibit hypermobility. In the medical community, Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders are underdiagnosed (https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/classification-update/). However, physicians lack awareness, and there are very few treatment methods available that manage the most common symptoms of hypermobility. Consequently, people with EDS/HSD find themselves without much support.
Because of an increase in awareness of EDS/HSD in society, the prevalence of movement performers exhibiting hypermobility, and the Alexander Technique frequently being sought out by performers, EDS/HSD and the AT have developed a significant relationship that is promising for those with hypermobility.