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Stiff Lower back?

Tension between your shoulder blades? Landing heavily on your heels when walking?

Make sure your rib cage is not lifted up! The cue I use in Alexander Technique lesson is to drop the xiphoid process, which is the little bony point at the end of the sternum. If you look at the image to the left, the xiphoid process is highlighted in gold. You can imagine it like a pendant hanging straight down, or joke with yourself that it’s rude to point your xiphoid process at someone.

If the xiphoid process is pointing up it with will cause you to lean back. If it is dropped towards the ground, you will find your weight centered on your feet, and that your arms and shoulders are freer to swing when walking. Observe how letting the xiphoid process hang affects your breathing.

Even though you feel more relaxed, you might suddenly start to worry that you are slumping! Lift your xiphoid process up to see what your habit of good posture is.  Does this feel super stiff and tense? Go back and forth until you can feel the difference between your idea of good posture and the reality of efficient body mechanics.

In lessons, I work with my students to understand how correcting a local “part” of the body affects the whole to create better posture, balance and breath.

Body Project Blog ~ Where Thought is the Active Ingredient, by Elyse Shafarman


2 Responses to "Stiff Lower back?"

  • Elyse Shafarman
    June 28, 2017 - 6:09 pm

    As one friend on Facebook commented:

    “Good stuff. How much of low back pain do u think might be a result of being too sympathetic in the nervous system (fight/flight/freeze)?”

    And my reply:

    “Probably quite a lot. And lowering the xiphoid process automatically allows for more “diaphragmatic breath” which could easily lower sympathetic reactivity. Thanks for your comment. It’s all super connected.”

  • Kimberly
    July 1, 2017 - 2:59 pm

    I love this. As a dance teacher we or I see many over correct the lift from the front. I cringe. I recently have emphasized not doing this and have had amazing results from 8 year olds!! The Ziphoid idea will come in play for my teaching now. Thank you.