Backcare targets MPs' posture

Backcare has joined forces with the Alexander Technique Society to offer voice-projection assessments to MPs at the Houses of Parliament tomorrow to mark Back Care Awareness Week.

It is no secret that an MP's prowess, or lack of it, in public speaking can have a huge influence on their popularity and career progression.

But the message Backcare wants to get across during the week is that how people speak is directly linked to their posture.

Carolyn Nicholls, who has taught the Alexander Technique for 25 years and is supporting Backare Awareness Week, explained: "How you use your body affects how you speak. If you hold a lot of tension in your neck, you will be creating a lot of compression in your throat, which in turn can make it hard to project your voice."

Despite his recent heart scare, Tony Blair shows little sign of tension, according to Nicholls. She said: "The Prime Minister is very economical with his body movements and doesn't jerk his neck about, which is why he manages to come across well.

"Gordon Brown, on the other hand, tends to look relaxed unless he is standing next to Mr Blair, when you can clearly see how tense he is. His posture seems to reflect how he is feeling."

Michael Howard may also like to consider attending the workshop to help the Tories win power. Nicholls explained: "He tends to jerk his neck about and bobs his head - these are telltale signs of tension."

And for a lesson in how not to carry yourself, look no further than the Deputy Prime Minister. "John Prescott has no neck, which indicates a tremendous amount of pressure in that part of the body," says Nicholls.

In the long term, poor posture can lead to recurrent voice loss, as well as digestion and circulation problems, to go with the inevitable back pain.

Around 1.1 million people suffer from back pain each year, and the Department of Health estimates this costs industry £5bn annually.

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