Malcolm Balk is both an Alexander Technique teacher and an experienced runner. He has been applying the Alexander Technique to running for the last 20 years.
Malcolm conceives the act of running as an invaluable opportunity to develop our creativity, have fun and learn to adapt and deal with change. Being fit for life is an end that he considers worth working for. In order to reach that target, he applies the principles of the Alexander Technique as the means to improve the use of himself while running. Running provides a good challenge if we are to apply Alexander principles and he states that it is possible to run, competitively or not, maintaining a good use of ourselves. The means he advocates to accomplish the desired end are to do with refusing to make of running a repetitive and mindless activity.
Basic concepts on the Alexander Technique such as faulty sensory appreciation, primary control, direction or inhibition, are explained for those who are not familiar with them. He also explains some concepts related to physical culture, such as fitness or level of training. This provides some useful information for those who have heard of these terms but are not sure of their meaning and implications.
It is worth reading carefully the chapter where Malcolm goes through the actual procedures to learn how to run being aware of the way we use ourselves. It is interesting to note that he does not take for granted that everyone should be able to run without compromising the postural mechanisms. For this reason, he goes through misconceptions about running and gives useful tips regarding breathing, use of the eyes, use of the arms, change of pace and so on. Runners as well as people interested in the Alexander Technique should find it useful to read this chapter.
There is a whole chapter that provides procedures designed to improve awareness while running. These are not specific exercises but they take into consideration the use of the whole self.
There are several case studies of people coming from different backgrounds and they provide a whole range of experiences related to running and the Technique. On the other hand he provides more than 80 photographs to illustrate what he explains.
This book is a valuable piece of work quite simply because it gives us an insight into a very common activity nowadays. Any Alexander Technique teacher is likely to have pupils who are runners and would like to improve their performance or are in trouble because of it. Teachers wanting to learn something about the mechanics of running, those who would like to challenge themselves and get fit without misusing themselves, or those who simply want to read someone else’s experience with this Technique can enjoy and learn a great deal with this book.
© Marta Baron Holczer. Reproduced with permission.
This edition © Mouritz 2005-2014. All rights reserved.