18 TALKBACK SELF HELP
If you are recovering from back pain, it is important that you make sensible and informed decisions about how you move and exercise. One great reason for going to a gym class is that it is an activity you can do in a social setting and still be in control of what you do. Elizabeth Dodgson, Alexander Technique teacher, helps you to navigate the world of gym classes and gives advice on how you can “be in charge” of your movements.
Choosing the fitness class IN A badminton match or any competitive sport where movements are dictated by the need to retrieve a ball, it is difficult, if not impossible, to remain in control of what you are doing. In a gym class, you can be the master of your own movements all the time if you embark on the class in a mindful way. It can be delightful to move to music and it is a social and uplifting activity. The instructor and your fellow classmates can help with motivation.
Know what the class entails Go and watch a class before you do it so you know what it involves. Then, before your first class, go a little earlier and have a word with the teacher. Tell them you are recovering from back pain and that you might choose not to do some parts of the class or you might do it slightly differently. Often this encourages the teacher to give “low impact” options during the class, something that some others will welcome too!
Stop before it hurts Don’t wait until those tell-tale signs of pain
TALKBACK l AUTUMN 2017
appear. In general, think of under-doing something rather than overdoing it. You can do this and still join in by: l doing fewer repetitions of the movement demonstrated. l doing the movement slower, half the speed for example, so you stay in rhythm. It is more important to do a movement well than to do it at speed. l opting for a lower weight than suggested if using weights, or use hand weights instead of a bar. You could even do the same movements but without a weight at all. l stopping the class early. Go to the side and do the “warm down” you will have seen when watching the class. Then slip out with a friendly smile to the teacher so he/she knows all is well.
Don’t get competitive Don’t compare yourself with others. As someone once said to me about running races…“there will always be someone older than you, fatter than you and wearing a monkey suit who is running past you. Get over it and run your own race!”