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Alexander Technique 'Unteaches' Bad Habits To Ease Pain

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - When your mom nagged you about sitting up straight, she was onto something.

When we were young, just babies, our bodies moved with natural ease whether sitting, standing or bending.

As we got older, that changed. Patterns of tension set in. We slump, shoulders hunched, chests concave. Bad habits become "normal" as we start losing a battle with gravity and daily stress. And if you've spent long hours at a computer you know your posture isn't the best and we could actually be hurting ourselves.

But there's a movement therapy that could change that. It's called the Alexander Technique.

Phyllis Richmond is the only certified instructor of this technique in North Texas.

"People will try to sit up or stand up and that will make a very tight back and uncomfortable and you can't do it for very long," says Richmond.

Using mental imaging and gentle guidance, the Alexander Technique is designed to improve the mind-body connection, to get rid of harmful habits that can cause chronic pain, especially in the head, neck and spine.

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(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

Dallas resident Fran Berry suffered from chronic pain for 20 years because of a car accident. She says it got to the point where doctors told her she would need neck surgery, but she didn't want that.

So a little over 2 years ago she started seeing Richmond.

"This was really a natural approach to regaining use of my body in a way that was not medical, not drastic, non-surgical," says Berry. "I'm in a lot less pain than I was before. My everyday life is much more comfortable because the pain is gone."

The Alexander Technique isn't some hippy-dippy new age therapy. It has been around for more than a hundred years.

The technique is named after F.M. Alexander, a Shakespearean actor who developed the approach to ease his own vocal problems and discovered it was effective for overall improvement of health and well-being.

The technique is credited with helping musicians and actors perform at their optimal level.

Big names who've studied the Alexander Technique include Paul McCartney, Madonna, Victoria Beckham, Heath Ledger and Robin Williams.

As for the rest of us, it can help relieve some conditions as varied as neck and back pain, migraine headaches, stress and asthma.

"I've had students with chronic bronchitis who got over that because they were able to breathe better," says Richmond.

Richmond stresses that the Alexander Technique isn't a medical cure for ailments or an alternative to surgeries.

If you would like to take lessons with Richmond you can find more information at and more information about the technique at

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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