By Brett Hershey
Photos by Stephane Hamel, Letanguerrant photography
A friend sent me a link to Lumo Lift, the update to the posture correction system Lumo Back, that now can be worn like a lapel pin. It also connects to your phone and tracks exercise, movement, steps, etc.
At first I was a bit startled, since I’ve been contemplating an App for the Alexander Technique and this seems to be close to my vision. I was also impressed with the Kickstarter beginnings and appealing marketing campaign.
Furthermore, it claimed to do what many of my students have half-jokingly asked of me: follow them around all day and correct their posture. How? It vibrates when you slouch.
I then had a twinge of fear, wondering if Lumo Lift could be the Steam Engine to us John Henry Alexander instructors. Gulp, will we be replaced by a high-tech lapel pin?
But upon further thought, I realized the limits of Lumo Lift. It may remind us when we are slouching, but it doesn’t tell us how we are slouching or how not to slouch. And what if we’re not slouching but over-tensing?
Most students that come to me know they are slouching, say, in front of their computers. They then try to hold themselves up like in an exaggerated military line-up, using excess tension, often over-arching the back, which would clearly satisfy the Lumo Lift. This usually lasts 30 seconds to 5 minutes before they tire and collapse back into the slouch.
Unfortunately (or fortunately for my colleagues and me), the Lumo lift reminds us when we slouch, but what does it do for the holding/over-tensing ourselves up?
Despite being born with the ability to elongate the spine along the curves and balance the head on top of it, most of us have forgotten how this happens. And so we are left with two undesirable choices: collapsing down or rigidly hold ourselves up.
As Alexander Technique instructors, our specialty is showing people how they are actually, specifically, habitually interfering (i.e. slouching, over-tensing, or a combination of both) with their natural good use, and how they can actually, specifically return to it.
So maybe some day they’ll be a device or an App to replace what it is we do so well, but in the meantime, the Lumo Lift can certainly be a good reminder apply the Alexander Technique to refresh our directions, but far from a substitute.
There’s nothing like the real thing.