Knee injuries and the Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is not concerned with the physical details of a knee problem. Why not? Whether it be an arthritic joint, torn cartilages, damaged ligaments or short muscles, it makes no difference to what an Alexander teacher needs to do.

Is that surprising? The above are very different ways you can damage a knee but their underlying cause is almost always the same: a harmful pattern of movement that puts undue strain on the knee every time you do anything.

Of course there is often a traumatic event, an accident, that sets it off, but this is usually a case of the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back: the accident just takes the on-going stressing of the knee over the edge to actual injury. Somebody else with a less stressful pattern of movement could suffer exactly the same external trauma and come out of it totally unharmed.

This also explains why knee injuries are so prone to chunter on and on (and often never recover): the body's mending, healing process cannot keep up with the on-going damage caused by habitual mis-use.

So, if you want to get better, after you've dealt with the effects of the injury, you need to shift your attention from the physical details to the dysfunctional habit. The main, unchanging feature of such habits is that the dysfunction is experienced as the right and necessary way move. The correct way is experienced as lacking strength, totally impossible and/or dangerous. I have described this in my page on arthritis. I recommend that you read that article.

It may be helpful to tell the experience of Paul Collins. Paul Collins and Elizabeth Rajna were co-principals of the School of Alexander Studies, where I did my three-year training to be an Alexander teacher. (I qualified in 1980).

Paul was a professional violinist and a marathon runner. He ran for Canada in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. He had to give up running altogether because of knee injuries. He could hardly walk, let alone run. The surgeon wanted to operate, but when he was told he would never run again, Paul refused the operation. Instead, he went for Alexander lessons.

His knees improved slowly but surely and he began to run again. In the late seventies, he ran the 50-mile Brighton to London race. In 1982, he set ten veteran world records. These included a 200-km(!) record and a 6-day(!!) record.

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