Snoopy helps demonstrate using the Alexander Technique for greater ease while picking up a dog.
The way we habitually bend can affect the way our body looks and feels.
Volunteering and working an Alexander Technique booth at a dog show in Missoula, I was inspired to do today’s blog on picking up a dog. Most dogs are down lower than people, so to get to them, we bend ourselves in all kinds of ways, some easier and some harder on our body.
Like all of the articles in this series, “The Art of Doing Everything – Non-doing to Do,” today’s blog shows you some possible options we might choose to – in this case – pick up a dog. Many of the choices that we make are unconscious and habitual. The Alexander Technique helps us make those choices on a conscious level as well as to develop a healthy use of the body that – with practice – becomes second nature.
(Click on images to enlarge)
In this picture, I’m intent on picking up the dog at any cost to myself. My attention and my body are directed downward, causing my shoulders to collapse forward and my neck to scrunch. I’m bending from my “waist,” which is not actually a bending joint! If I am picking up a dog this way, I probably collapse my shoulders forward and scrunch my neck habitually, so I won’t notice it if I do the same thing when I pick up the dog, but I will probably feel the strain in my back later.
Here I’m at least as interested in caring for myself as picking up the dog, because I know that if I take care of myself, I will be able to lift up the dog more easily now and for a long time to come! I’m thinking about keeping the ease in my neck and allowing my knees to release forward as my hips release back. That way, I keep the length and width in my back so that it supports me and the weight of the dog.
Here’s another option: squatting. Here, I’m thinking of lengthening into a primary curve. (More on primary curves at the Flexion, Extension and Spirals workshop!)
Habitually downward-directed postures (like I’m demonstrating at the right) that don’t take advantage of bending joints to bend affect comfort level, mobility and even our structure in the long term. What would happen if we were to instead bend at our bending joints and think up as we move?
What would you say about these two options?
Wishing you flexibility and balance,
DiscoverEase in Movement