Thirty years ago, it was hard to find a Physiotherapist who worked with children. We saw a couple of awful ones who wanted her to stand on a step and drop her heels – which is amazingly uncomfortable, even for grownups without short Achilles tendons. Try it sometime. Try making a five-year-old do that! I knew I had to find someone who could make the exercises fun, because we were never going to get them done if there was nothing involved but pain.
One day I mentioned this to my massage therapist. She connected me to Bonnie, a former kid’s ballet and elementary classroom teacher who became a PT as a second career. Bonnie was terrific. She was fun, she knew how to be around children, and she was so kind to Anne. Later, when I needed a PT, she became mine as well.
Bonnie nursed Anne through her growing pains and me through my increasing knee issues over the next 10 years. She taught me to stop pronating my knees when I stood, and to rotate more to the outside of my foot instead of collapsing my arches. Bonnie taught me a lot about standing, strengthening, and being present to what my body was doing. I thank her for keeping me out of knee dislocation surgery for a while longer and for introducing me to the wonders of kinesiotape.
My PT sessions were happening in conjunction with my Alexander Technique training, and one day Bonnie offered me the chance to come into her office after school was over and intern with her. I jumped at the chance since I wanted to learn more about anatomy. I had already seen places where what I could do complimented PT so perfectly. I knew it would be a great fit.
For the next year I went as often as I could to learn from Bonnie. She helped me to understand the ins and outs of recovery, how different people’s habitual patterns affect their length of time to get back to normal. She put me to work with some of her patients who returned often - who seemed to hold onto their pain rather than want to recover from it. It was an incredible learning experience for me. In the meantime, she had an assistant. I learned to listen to clients, to allow their recovery to take the time it needed to happen. I helped the persistent patients to soften, to learn to let go of their habitual patterns, to start to let go of the fear to trust their recovery.
That slow regaining of trust was the most valuable of all the things I learned from AT and from Bonnie. I saw it work for my daughter, I felt it work for myself, I was able to deliver it through hands-on to her patients and later to my students. To this day, the trust work is the most important work I do in my practice.
Everyone’s recovery is some kind of “slow forward.” Sensing what that process is for each person is the art of Alexander Technique.