Boy, are you going to be surprised when you read this post. Monkeys and lunges? What's up with that?
Today I had my last Alexander Technique lesson before surgery. (Whoa! I just got a message that New Blogger saves my draft automatically. Progress!) What was I saying? Oh, yes. At my AT lesson I asked for a refresher on stair climbing, thinking ahead to an unknown number of upcoming weeks on crutches. After table time, where I had some unexpected tension in my lower neck and posterior left upper arm I needed to rid myself of, we did our first lesson on lunges. Up to this point we have concentrated on chair-sitting (monkeys) and arm motions (arm-on-back-of-chair type things).
So now I've used monkey in an unexpected way in a sentence. Alexander referred to the monkey as the position of mechanical advantage, and it's commonly called a monkey because, well, you look a bit like one when you squat that way. I can assure you that it works very well. This is the classic photo of F.M. working with a young girl, and I found it in a handout on a nifty NZ web site, if you would like to read about it.
But today we worked on lunges, not monkeys. A lunge is what you think it is, and in it's simplest form it's the way you unweight one leg so that you can move it forward to walk, run, climb stairs, or do just about anything in which you move your feet. The coolest thing about AT is that just about every activity is encompassed in the limited number of things you work on: lying down, monkeys, lunges, and hands-on-chairs. It's a bit like playing the cello - infinitely simple and infinitely complex.
These are my brief notes, so I will have something to refer to next week:
* Beginning lunge, one hand on chair. (Alternate hands.) Unweight one leg by shifting balance from over heels toward balls of feet. Bend at ankles. Bend moving knee by releasing from behind.
* Think: spine goes up, knees go forward. The bend occurs as release. Should not be leading with hips.
* Stairs work exactly the same way. Start from stance one foot up on next step. Move weight forward, bending at lower ankle. Use momentum as you release bent knee from behind, thinking of support under bent leg, and straighten leg.
* Remember: spine up, knees forward.
It made climbing steps feel incredibly easy, rather like I'd lost about 20 lbs.
When I came home I practiced with my crutches. I shortened them one peg to better accommodate using myself this way. Again for my own benefit, these are cliff notes about how to use the crutches, for when I am confused next week. B is bad (left, for me) and G is good (right). C stands for crutch(es):
* Walking, two crutches: C + B, G. Think step, together. Can also be done C, B, G.
* Walking, one crutch: C + B, G. Also step, together.
* Stairs, down: C + B, G. Two feet on same step, bad always goes down first.
* Stairs, up: G, C + B. Two feet on same step, good always goes up first.
* Stairs with rail, carry crutches: rail on G side, same order as above.
I'll be on crutches until I can walk "normally," meaning without a limp. Objectively that means swelling resolved, no pain, and flexion of about 70 degrees. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to carry a cello over my shoulder once I can walk using only one crutch. Well, I can plan...