Dr. Laura Schlesinger and Her Trainer Jason Baker Discuss Handbag Posture

Dr. Laura’s trainer Jason Baker looks at her slumping to her left under the weight of her handbag.

Jason prescribes some exercises to strengthen her back, neck and shoulder muscles to fix this problem.

As an Alexander teacher, I would primarily want Dr. Laura to notice how she’s reacting to the stimuli of carrying a handbag. When she becomes aware of how she’s distorting herself, we would then work to let go of those responses of distortion, compression and unnecessary body tension. We wouldn’t work on building up her muscles so that she could more easily distort her head, neck, back relationship.

Jason says: “What’s happening here is a little bit of weakness in your trap muscles.”

By contrast, I see what is happening here is a reaction to stimuli by Dr. Laura’s whole self that is not serving her. I don’t see the problem as weakness in her trap muscles. I see the problem as primarily a lack of awareness of how her whole self reacts to the stimulus of carrying a heavy handbag. I would suspect that her reactions to this stimulus mirror her reactions to other stimuli such as chopping vegetables, walking, and getting in and out of a chair. We tend to exhibit similar stimulus reactions across all of our activities. Somebody who tightens her neck and compresses her back when chopping vegetables will do the same thing when romping in the playroom with her child.

If Dr. Laura follows her trainer’s directions, she’ll strengthen certain muscles but won’t improve her overall coordination. Instead, she’ll in all likelihood make it worse.

Jason says: “If we build up those traps and make them stronger, you won’t have that problem anymore and it won’t hurt as much.”

I doubt it.

Jason: “So that when you do carry things, it won’t put as much strain on your shoulders.”

If you build up your trap muscles but don’t change your habits of compression, you’re still likely to have pain and discomfort.

Jason advocates a neck stretch exercise where you drop each ear to a shoulder for 20 seconds. With each dropping, you create compression in that side of the neck and you will likely feel terrible. Watch Dr. Laura’s face as she does these varying forms of neck compression. She’s plainly not feeling good. Some people who do this will injure themselves.