Change your posture and you may never look back
Many back-sufferers spend years in pain when, in many cases, all they need to do is change their posture
Richard Brennan practising his Alexander Technique. He says pain is a warning sign that something is wrong with the body. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Back problems have reached epidemic proportions globally, with recent figures revealing that four million people input “lower back pain” into Google each month.
Richard Brennan, director of the Alexander Technique teacher training college in Galway and experienced practitioner of the method, has just published a book entitled Back in Balance which aims to help people to discover the root of their back pain and find effective techniques to eliminate the problem for good.
“I developed major back problems for many years as a result of my occupation as a driving instructor,” says the 60 year old.
“I tried dozens of treatments but by chance I met an Alexander teacher who explained that the Alexander Technique would be very effective in helping to treat my problem.”
Although by his own admission Brennan knew nothing about the technique, he decided to have a couple of sessions to address his constant pain which was making him desperate.
“After a few lessons in changing my posture, my back pain slowly but surely started to subside and, as the tensions gradually diminished, I also noticed that I was beginning to sleep better, my self-esteem and confidence grew and I felt happier overall.
“Before trying out the Alexander method, I was in pain constantly for seven years. It was very debilitating and prevented me from leading a happy life. I couldn’t walk very far, nor drive or even sit in a pub to enjoy a drink for any length of time. Life was very desperate.”
Brennan says Alexander became the only method that gave him lasting relief; he hasn’t had any back pain for over 25 years.
“Now I can do everything I want without a bother. When I had my back problem I was told by the doctors that I would never lift anything ever again and they wanted to operate on my spine completely by removing the three lower discs and fusing the vertebrae.
“Luckily I decided not to have the operation. Now my back is fine – in fact, a few years ago I was able to lift full bags of cement when I was putting an extension on my house – so the change has been truly remarkable.”
Richard, who is married to Caroline and has two children, Ciaran (20) and Laoise (13), says pain is a warning sign that something is wrong with the body.
Many back-sufferers spend years suffering and trying to find treatment for their ailments when, in a lot of cases, all they need to do is change their posture and become aware of the damage they are doing to their bodies on a daily basis.
Since his recovery he has been teaching the Alexander Technique and set up Ireland’s only Alexander teacher training college in Galway in 1998.
He has written several books on the subject, and his latest, Back in Balance, aims to help people to release muscular tension and alleviate back pain with some simple easy-to-use techniques.
“Many people carry on as I did with unnecessary pain for years, not realising that anything can be done about it,” says Brennan.