RSI & Alexander – 12 Years On

 January 15, 2021

By  alswainger

It's been 4 years since I wrote “…one day I won’t come back at all.” about my experience of developing RSI and discovering Alexander technique. Recently I got asked this question :

"Do you still have pain or does regular Alexander practice keep you in good shape?"

It's a pretty good question.

Here's how I replied :


  • I still get pains that build up


  • I have the tools to resolve them
  • It’s relative

I like to look at it through the analogy of playing instruments and being in / out of practice.

A beginner has no idea what they don’t know.

A beginner has no idea what they don’t know. There’s no frame of reference for being out of practice because they don’t know what being in practice feels like. They just know they want to be better than they are but don’t yet have the tools to know what to work on.

The perception of someone who has been playing for 10 years is very different. There’s a huge variety of techniques and knowledge that has been accrued over time. Without practice strategies to maintain their skillset it will suffer and take time to get back to where they were though if they don’t play regularly.

Sometimes you just have to rely on habit

A player of 20 years is different again and where they were at 10 years now seems naïve by comparison. Even at 20 years though if we do too many gigs in row, or accept the free drink a punter offers us for hospitality, or we’re on a dep where we haven’t had enough time to learn new music etc we get presented with situations where we have to go into survival mode and do something to get through. Those performances don’t tend to be our greatest and we’re painfully aware of it in retrospect. Sometimes you just have to rely on habit though and look at how you could have approached it better later when you’ve got more time to deal with it analytically.

The things a player of 20 years is horrified that didn’t go well will seem impossibly advanced if even noticeable or intelligible to a beginner. 

So why don’t doctors recommend this instead of physio?

It takes a lot of time and commitment to even understand what you’re working on. It’s a much more holistic approach but still grounded in physiology.

Physio addresses symptoms. It’s a much easier sales pitch. You have ‘this’ wrong with you so do ‘this’ and you’ll be fixed.

...if you have a proven process you can always find your way back 

I cycle through fixing myself, feeling ok, getting obsessed with work, running myself down, fixing myself etc and have just been going through this again over Christmas but pretty much back to normal now.

You get out what you put in. Junk in, junk out. No one is perfect but, just like practicing an instrument, if you have a proven process you can always find your way back to where you want to be - and beyond.

This link will take you to more general information on Alexander Technique if you'd like to know more. I'm not affiliated in any way with that site.


​Al has performed, recorded and taught all over the country and internationally for more than 25 years.

Highlights include sessions, tours and workshops with :

Peter King, Grice, Paul Jones, P.P. Arnold, Scott Hamilton, Siobhan McCrudden, Gary Bamford, Gilad Atzmon, Mike Outram, Alan Barnes, Ant Law and many more as well as h​is own projects :

Pointless Beauty, Biophosmos, Snow Giants and Mahatmosphere.

As an educator he has taught for schools, colleges and privately for more than 25 years and has a BA (Hons) / PGCE in Music.

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