BLOG PIECE by Natalie Gibellini (Sussex Ehlers-Danlos and Hypermobility Disorders (SEDS) Alexander Technique Practitioner)
"My relationship with chairs is one of the most notable things that has changed as I have navigated my path with hypermobility.
Studying and office work meant sitting down around the clock and that came with pain, restlessness, a loss of concentration due to the noise of the widespread discomfort, and then exhaustion.
My journey out of this mess didn’t happen overnight, it has been a long road learning to support myself better in sitting.
Sitting is a balance, and finding your balance can be tricky when you are hypermobile.
With wobbly joints, finding stability to balance in an upright position is a juggling act.
The extra range of movement available, and the reduced support and stabilisation from ligaments and tendons can create a tendency to hang into joints and collapse.
I couldn’t work out how to support myself well whilst being upright, I felt heavy and dragged down.
I fluctuated between periods of heaving myself into a more upright position which I thought was right by using tension to brace myself, and then surrendering and sinking downwards.
In my first Alexander lesson I recall the moment when I recognised the sheer amount of effort it was taking to support myself when sitting up on the chair.
It was clear something wasn’t working as efficiently as it could.
It made no sense that just simply sitting was so demanding.
Lessons showed me to how to support myself from the inside, and how to use external support beneficially as a source to spring up from rather than collapse down onto.
Thankfully, I was shown the pathway to another option, that wasn’t rigidifying myself or collapsing.
If I want to choose slouching from time to time, that is now a choice I can make.
It’s not like there is a right or wrong way to sit, but postural collapse doesn’t have to be my default.
The way we think about our bodies can influence the way we support ourselves and help us build good habits.
How we support ourselves is one of the topics we will explore on the SEDS member’s course".