Some pauses are accidental: Thoughts on the Alexander Technique and injury

It is my last term of Alexander Technique training, I am a few weeks before graduating, and I have had a minor accident in the home. A clumsy fall which resulted in a toe fracture.

At my local hospital, after x rays, dressing, and medical prescriptions, I was given the option to wear an Orthowedge or heel weight bearing shoe. I could opt for crutches but I decided that it was preferable to aim to find ways of walking without this type of support, and perhaps a walking pole would be a good reminder of “thinking up”. Although the care I received was excellent, I was struck by the reality that, whilst my toe was being treated in the best possible way, I would have to find a way of looking after it as well as the rest of my psycho-physical self over the next 6 weeks. One leg was most definitely shorter than the other because of the height of the wedge heel!

Although I was concerned about my forthcoming STAT moderation, when my training school’s external moderator would assess my development over the 3 year’s training, I felt calm. I was confident I had gained the tools to cope with this accidental interruption to my plans as I transition from trainee to teacher. I realised I had already learnt a few valuable lessons:

To be compassionate to myself, accidents do happen and berrating myself or wishing I could turn the clock back was not going to help me move forward;

My plans would be affected, but to what extent was it a setback? I could use this accidental pause to continue my development, with the support of my teachers and fellow trainees, in understanding how to cope practically, emotionally and in relation to movement and balance with an injury to the big toe.

Wonder of the day #1399 on Wonderopolis states: “Of all your toes, your big toes are the most important. They play the most critical role in maintaining your balance. They also bear the most weight when standing. Your big toes can bear almost twice as much weight as the other toes combined.”

The first step on this journey of recovery was tackling the imbalance caused by wearing one Orthowedge. I was reminded of my younger sister’s favourite book as a child, Quentin Blake’s Mr Magnolia has only one boot (Jonathan Cape, 1980)

Mr. Magnolia has only one boot.
He has an old trumpet that goes root-toot — 
And two lovely sisters who play on the flute — 
But Mr. Magnolia has only one boot.
In his pond live a frog and a toad and a newt — 
He has green parakeets who pick holes in his suit — 
And some very fat owls who are learning to hoot — 
But Mr. Magnolia has only one boot.

The story ends well, for Mr Magnolia unwraps a present and finds a second boot, it does not match the one he has but makes him very happy. I have rummaged through the cupboard and found a Birkenstock sandal that is almost the perfect height, so with some further customisation by building up the sole I should be as happy as Mr Magnolia himself.

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