My career was in tatters. Everything hurt. I was grumpy, angry, and seriously out of love with my own body. I started to resent it when people didn't understand my pain. It felt like just because they couldn't see it, they didn't believe me. They probably didn't.
And things weren't getting better. In fact they were getting a lot, lot worse.
In 2003 I'd started to get pain in my arms. After a while it spread to my shoulders and back, and before long I was struggling to do my job.
As a well-paid consultant, I was used to spending long hours sitting at a desk. But this pain was something new to me. What was going on? I went to see my doctor, who suggested I had repetitive strain injury (RSI) . I took a little time off work to get better, and, full of anticipation, went back to work.
But to my anguish, the problem came back. Even worse. I was ruined! Let me reassure you - I know what it’s like to be in pain. I have the book, the t-shirt, the film, the tea-towel. I know what pain is! So I cashed in my health insurance and travelled down to Harley Street to see a specialist.
The doctor described me as a very pleasant man with a tendency to jut my chin forward. I'm not sure how I took that, but fair enough! He diagnosed a work-related-upper-limb-disorder (WRULD), declared me unable to work, and handed me a list of therapies to try. Right at the bottom of the list was “The Alexander Technique”, and as he looked me in the eye he pointed to this and meaningfully declared “This is the one that will help you. But it's not a therapy.”
I'd never heard of the Alexander Technique. Ever. So for several months I spent my fortune taking trains to St Pancras to visit a specialist physio. I tried osteopathy. I tried massage. I tried chiropractic. I learned yoga. And thai-chi. I took up running. Strange people in hairdressers wiggled my feet and talked about reflexology. I bought tinctures and herbs and pills. And guess what? None of it worked. Sometimes my symptoms would go down a bit, but a day or two later I'd be right back where I started.
Dr Brian Goodall
I think I am very fortunate to have found James Crow to instruct me in the Alexander Technique.
I went for help with my chronic headaches and low back pain, which have improved significantly.
However I have also found a great insight into my body and my mind and into the relationship between them. This was very unexpected.
After just a few sessions I have learned how to look after myself better and for this I will always be grateful.
Thank you James.
“Alexander’s work is of first class importance and investigation by the medical profession is imperative” – The British Medical Journal
So I went back to my list, and there, right at the bottom, the words were looking back at me. “Alexander Technique”.
I found a Doctor in Leicester, where I lived, who actually taught this unheard-of thing. So on the bus I jumped and found myself in front of a bubbly, smiling Doctor/Alexander Technique teacher. At once she saw my problem. I was using my body terribly. I was standing badly, one shoulder lower than the other, with both rounded forward. I was slumping. In sitting, I was a collapsed heap. And I was was stressed. Very, very stressed. Dr. Miriam Wohl, thankyou soooo much, for your patience and skills, you life-saver!
Learning the Alexander Technique was a revelation. I soon began to feel a bit better, and each session left me feeling positive. My RSI was taking a long time to heal, I'd hurt myself so badly with my bad posture, bad habits, and bad attitude. But I was on the road to recovery. Something just felt right.
I’d fallen in love with the Alexander Technique. At last I’d found a way to crawl out of the hole I’d ended up in, a way to be free from the pain and posture problems that had dogged my adult life. And it felt great!
I decided this was for me, and I signed up right away to learn to teach it myself. That way, I'd have to be an expert in this technique – there'd be no avoiding it. Well, I'm sorry to say, I was a slow learner. Clumsy and stubborn. But gradually it started to make sense. A lot of sense. And my sense of well-being grew and grew. I felt great!
It was a full-time training for three years, in Kendal in the beautiful Lake District (well, it’s beautiful when it’s not raining, those lakes don’t fill up by themselves you know!), and over time I learned to teach this fabulous method to others. People like you.
It’s amazing how you can apply the technique to so many things, from working with a computer to being a top golfer, to simple pleasures like gardening without pain, or playing with the grand-kids. It’s all about working and playing with less tension and much more self-awareness, so you get fantastic, light, easy-feeling movement, which means you’re left with stacks more energy at the end of the day. Think of it as mindful movement rather than autopilot drudgery. Think of it as a skill you can learn and repeat, so you don’t have to rely on anyone else to fix you.
Armed with my graduation certificate from three-years full-time training, and full of excitement, I settled in Heaton Moor near some friends, and opened my doors for the flood of new patients. Day by day, week by week, no-one came. I fell further into debt and started selling off my belongings. But then gradually, people started to come to see me. Many of these people still come and see me today, for refresher sessions a couple of times a year. I'm sooooo grateful to them, and to the friends they recommended to come and see me. You can find many of their testimonials around this website.
Not long after, a study was published in the British Medical Journal. A proper, large randomised control trial funded by the NHS and the Medical Research Council. The results were amazing. People with chronic back pain halved it in just six sessions. People who took more dropped it 86%. And it was clinically proven. Soon after, the papers were declaring it brilliant, the best cure for back pain, and articles about stars like Victoria Beckham started to pop up all over the place. Hooray, at last!
That was way back in 2007. Since then, all I’ve done is be a full-time Alexander Technique teacher. It really is a full-time commitment for me. Many Alexander teachers keep another full- or part-time job to pay their bills, and don’t build a big enough practice to switch to going full-time. A few others don’t really need to work at all, thanks to independent means or rich spouses. Oh if only I were one of them! I don’t know many other Alexander teachers who do the work full-time, like I do. It’s a big commitment, teaching all week, but I love it. And the satisfaction of guiding people safely to a better quality of life is priceless. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Unless I won the lottery, in which case you wouldn’t see me for dust!
So now I enjoy training people of all ages and all kinds of backgrounds, both privately and in groups. As I mentioned, it never ceases to amaze me how widely applicable the technique is to so many activities and ways of life.
I was helping people with back pain, neck pain, sciatica, headaches and many other problems caused by bad posture and bad habits. At long last, I'd found my vocation! And to this day I still love teaching the Alexander Technique. Every. Single. Session.
Many people come to me to reduce back and neck pain. Others to improve their posture or to look slimmer. Some just want to learn a fun new skill. Many want to be more mindful. And some are just curious. Everyone leaves satisfied.
My first clinic opens in Heaton Moor...
I was really pleased when the Stockport Times asked to run an article on me. I was also slightly sun-burned at the time. Oh well, we're only human!
I was working from home out of my flat in Heaton Moor. It was ok I suppose, but I decided I needed to move to some proper clinics when I got too busy. What clinched it was someone ringing the bell at 9:30pm to ask about booking a session.
Now I work in Wilmslow, Stockport and Macclesfield as well as the University of Manchester and many local companies and schools. I'm even teaching prodigal pianists at the UK's largest independent music school to sit brilliantly and perform effortlessly. Busy busy busy!
I have to admit, it was really scary to go into the local paper. Being on public show didn't come easily to me. The last time I'd been in a paper I was head of my house at my Junior School - I didn't mind it then! Deep down I think we're all the same. After a while though, I was bumping into clients all over Heaton Moor and was happy to be recognised by the people around me. And nowadays I just love the attention!
The girl in the photo wasn't a client. In fact she was my girlfriend, I needed someone at the time to pose for the photo. We still get on brilliantly - we're getting married this year. Lucky old me!
“I find the Alexander Technique very helpful in my work. Things happen without you trying. They get to be light and relaxed. You must get an Alexander teacher to show it to you” John Cleese, comedian and actor
I’m a Member of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique
Only approved Alexander Technique Teachers, like me, who’ve had three years full-time training, and are fully insured and registered with the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, are approved to teach Alexander Technique by the Government’s Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, the CNHC. Alexander Technique is recommended by NICE.
And it’s not just pain and posture that I can help you with. More and more people are taking an interest in mindfulness, meditation, and consciousness – which are massively enhanced by learning Alexander Technique, which means less anxiety and stress!
How Does It Work?
It works by increasing your self-awareness and improving your posture, so you know how you’re sitting, or walking, playing golf around Cheshire, playing with the kids, or simply using a computer at work. Whatever it is you do. How could you benefit from moving with less pain and effort, and being much more aware of your posture and actions? Being self-aware like this feels really good, and it stops you mindlessly slumping in front of the computer or TV – so you’re sat well, poised, pain-free and ready for action. My clients talk of feeling ‘poised, light and graceful’ which is the opposite of ‘tired, slumped and in pain’ anyway you look at it! Which one of those are you right now? Are you going to stay like that forever? Really?
My No-Hassle Guarantee...
Try out a trial session, and feel the benefits there and then, or pay nothing at all. No obligation! I’m so confident you’ll enjoy and benefit from your session I can happily offer you this guarantee. You really have nothing to lose (and no-one has ever needed to take advantage of this, so it’s easy for me to offer, but it’s there if you want, you’re free to choose!)
You’ll learn to put much less effort into everyday tasks, rather than stomping around like a bull in a china shop (with a bad back, bad posture, and stressed – a bad combination!). I’ll gently and safely guide you into better posture and then teach you to keep it going whilst you’re active. Easy but effective!
Lessons are usually fun, never painful (there were no contra-indications in the clinical trials either), and a fascinating process of self-exploration. At first you'll keep catching yourself sitting or standing badly, slumped or too tense. After a while it gets easy and you'll have great pain-free posture all-day long, so you can make the most of your free-time.
And, most importantly, learning to move freely, poised and in balance takes no physical effort at all. No drugs or pills, no painful embarrassing gym classes, nor uncomfortable massage or manipulation. Just easy learning.
You don’t have to wear jogging bottoms and sweat away at the gym, you don’t have to be able to do a daft handstand on your head, and you don’t need to work out. We’re not in the ‘no pain no gain’ camp here! It’s all in your thinking.
And because thinking takes no effort, you’ll soon be moving smoothly and working effectively to relieve your pain, improve your posture, look slimmer, and feeling better than ever.
I’ll get straight back to you. If you have any questions just ask me – no matter how daft you think your question is. It’s not daft to me – just ask!
I first went to James Crow in August 2011 because of severe neck and shoulder pain. I felt like I’d seized up! The problem had developed after I had quite a big operation in March 2011 on a major muscle in my back. I’d had physio at the hospital but was left with these problems. Within a few weeks the pain was starting to lessen, and I’m very happy to say it had gone completely within three months. James helped me to understand how important correct posture is. He taught me the correct way to stand, sit, get in and out of chairs and bed, how to lift objects, how to sit at the computer, in the car, even how to hold a book when reading! I think about how I do everything now! I’m pain free and I’m so glad I heard about the Alexander Technique and found an excellent teacher in James. I have to be active in my job and I was very worried about how I could continue with it but now I am fully mobile and energetic.
Thanks a million James! The technique has completely changed my life.