October Blog 2010


By Clive Lindley-Jones | October 1, 2010 4:35 pm

Yes, that is about what is holding you up, and of course they are all controlled by the nervous system and attach on to 200 bones and, along with plenty of fancy feedback mechanisms, this makes up what we, in osteopathy, call ‘The Primary Machinery of Life’. All that great stuff that gets your from A to B.

When your nervous system says pull, certain muscles contract and move the bones and off we go. It is indeed a complex affair.  The movement of the body results from simultaneous, harmonious and successive operation of a multitude of 107 bony leavers, but we get there, mostly with out even noticing or marveling at the genius of it all.

However, as so often with us humans, all that top heavy computing power and consciousness, great though it can be, can also trip us up and get us to do some weird  stuff with this machinery, some of which can come back and bight us. Take for example your posture right now as your read this. Don’t change anything but just stop and check out one single element of your posture for the fun of it. How is your head in relation to the rest of your body? If you are anything like most of us perhaps you have it stuck out, jutting out ahead of the rest of your body? This very forward head tilt can often reduce the power going to muscles in your shoulders and all the way down to your hands. If you have ever had it demonstrated to you by me in the clinic it is an eye opening kind of event.

So it is important where your head sits on your whole spine. Some have even given this a name: Forward Head Syndrome.

Rene Cailliet M.D., one of my favorite medical authors on account of his superbly illustrated orthopedic text books, wrote about the effects of forward head syndrome in his book “Rejuvenation Strategy.” He said;

1.        Incorrect head positioning leads to improper spinal function.

2.        The head in forward posture can add up to 30 pounds of abnormal leverage on the cervical spine.

3.        Forward head posture results in loss of vital lung capacity. In fact, lung capacity is depleted by as much as 30 percent. Loss of lung capacity leads to heart and blood vascular problems.

4.        The entire gastrointestinal system is affected, particularly the large intestine. Loss of good bowel peristaltic function and evacuation is a common condition that comes with forward head posture and loss of spinal lordotic curves.

5.        Forward head posture causes an increase in discomfort and pain. Freedom of motion in the first four cervical vertebrae is a major source of stimuli that causes production of endorphins in production many otherwise non-painful sensations are experienced as pain.

6.        Forward head posture causes loss of healthy spine-body motion. The entire body becomes rigid as the range of motion lessens. Soon, one becomes hunched.

As some of you know, I spend a considerable percentage of my time trying to help patients sort out many of these issues.

Osteopathy is a great tool to help restore good intra and extra cranial balance and restoring good cervical and vertebral muscular function.

As a young man, before I became an osteopath, I was exposed to the extraordinary, and at times infuriating, but marvelous Alexander Technique.

While Osteopathy focuses on a detailed knowledge of structure and function and employs many therapeutic methods to restore normal function, it is a medical approach. The Alexander Technique is more of a re-education.

In this month’s Book of the Month I report on Michael Bloch’s fascinating biography of F.M. Alexander, the founder of The Alexander Technique.

This approach was recently shown in a study published in the BMJ to be a valid and cost effective tool in the fight against back pain. However, it is far more than that.

But as it is such a difficult thing to describe and yet generally such a wonderful and useful thing to experience and learn, why not dip your toe in to this confounding and wonderful process, with one of the best.

We are pleased to host to one of the leaders in the field, our old friend Sumi Komo, who will be seeing a lucky few students at Helix House soon.  For more information read on.

Alexander Technique with Sumi Komo

“Sumi Komo has magical hands, instinctively finding how and where to release tensions and old patterns.” Austin Symphony Violist

Sumi Komo has been working with movement and healing for three decades. Her background and expertise includes:

-Alexander Technique
– Cranial Sacral Therapy®
– Jin Shin Jyutsu®

and other hands-on work that focuses on the psychophysical organisation and spiritual integration of the whole person.

Her training and teaching of various Eastern meditation and movement techniques informs how she works with people privately and in groups.

Sumi Komo is visiting the UK and is available for individual sessions Sunday 31st October, Monday 1st November and Tuesday 2nd November 2010.
Contact Helix House to book.

One session with you – ONE! – has helped me to become much more aware of how I move my body , and what holding patterns I have and has started to relieve the chronic pain! Your professionalism in expressing how to make improvements and the healing touch you have during the session have helped me immensely.” Ingrid Hollis


Book of the Month

FM – The Life of Frederick Matthias Alexander: Founder of the Alexander Technique by Michael Block

Michael Block starts his Prologue to this engrossing and illuminating biography thus;

“It is notoriously difficult to describe the Alexander Technique: to attempt to do so has been likened to trying to describe a colour to a blind man…In essence, it is based on the notion that we develop bad habits in our posture which we are often quite unaware of, but which account for much of what goes wrong with us in every department. The Technique provides a practical method of identifying and overcoming these habits”.

It is true that is it difficult to describe the method, primarily because it is a subtle, kinesthetic, experience, and ultimately must be experienced through the hands of a good teacher.  But if you do, it will not be long before you will be wondering what kind of a man stumbled on this extraordinary process and had the singleness of purpose to bring it to Europe, and later America, and share his discovery and skill with so many and later teach that great generation of teachers who are, sadly, slipping away gradually as time moves on.

Here is the story of a young Australian actor in out of the way Tasmania who, in 1892, finds himself afflicted by a strange hoarseness whenever he started to recite. Observing himself in mirrors, he worked out that his problem arose from habitual ‘misuse’ in the relationship of his head, neck and back.

Gradually he evolved a practical method of overcoming the problem. The man was FM Alexander and this is the first book to explore his roots and relate the journey of discovery of this new, innovative method of kinesthetic re-education, as well as uncover something of the enigma of this fascinatingly flawed, but brilliant man.

A well written biography by any account, but a must read for all who have ever been lucky enough to experience his remarkable innovation, The Alexander Technique.


  1. Mark Josefsberg on October 2, 2010 at 5:42 am

    Here Here!
    Thanks for this. I hope people are aware that ‘forward head posture’ is a misnomer. It’s more beneficial to call it ‘forward neck posture’. That gives us more control.

    • clivelj on October 8, 2010 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks Mark, yes quit true about the forward neck bit, but as you know it is hard to get any of this across at the best of times!
      It is always curious where these blogs get to. How did you stumble on it?
      all best,
      Clive Lindley-jones