The Aggregation of Marginal Gains

The aggregation of marginal gains

It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis.   Almost every habit that you have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time.

When people talk to me about their back pain, neck ache or sore knees, they almost never associate it with one specific event.  Sometimes there was an accident or injury involved, but it doesn’t always explain the on-going nature of their pain or difficulty.  There has been an accumulation of tiny moments where we over-ride the natural pace or desires of our mammal body.  We do this for all sorts of good reasons in the moment –  in order to achieve something which we have been conditioned into thinking we ‘ought’ to do.

When we notice that we have a habit of poor posture, there is a hope and desire to fix it quickly – usually by pulling our shoulders back and forcing ourselves to stand up straight.  Sadly this only lasts a moment, and we revert back to our schlump a few seconds later.  Schlumping is just as active as pulling our shoulders back.  Holding our shoulders back like this, also results in holding our breath too as our ribs and spine are intimately connected.

Our shoulder-blades are designed to glide over the ribs and float on each breath.  So again, if we hold our shoulders back, this fixes bones and muscles which would ideally be mobile and free.

So if you wonder how to improve your posture, your breathing, your walking or sitting, please don’t be surprised if you are told and shown ways which will incrementally help you, 1% at a time.  For many this is such a small amount it goes unnoticed initially.  And yes you may wonder, whats the point?

The point is that when you improve the subtle quality of your thinking, your attention and the way you move 1% at a time – it all builds up and makes an accumulative and positive effect which does become noticeable.

We didn’t get ‘bad’ posture overnight, that too has been an accumulation of tiny moments where we slump on one elbow, stand on one leg, lean against a wall and in many small ways decrease our height, narrow our stature and fix our bodies.  We can get away with this in the short-term, and hardly notice these small moments when we are busy, looking after others or working (and ignoring the messages our body gives us) – but over time they build up into more significant problems of stiff, tight and sore muscles where the range of movement is limited.  Our breathing is diminished and so is our life-giving-energy.

The good news is that we can consciously turn the tide on this and start to take small steps towards improving our health, one thought at a time.  We can do this at any age.  When we set an intention and decide to change direction and change a habit – this is a defining moment.

Truly our thoughts shape us.  So if you change your thinking, you can change the shape of your bones, muscles and posture.

In order to change our habits, we have to first make up our mind to do something different.  This isn’t a thought that we have once only and are then sorted.  We make a clear intention, set a goal, and work towards it steadily and consistently.  This requires commitment, and daily practice. This is what brings about change in an on-going and beneficial way.

This Coach Improved Every Tiny Thing By 1% And Here’s What Happened.


An Alexander Technique teacher can be your 1% improvement coach and help you on your way to a more efficient, more flowing and happier in daily life – moment by moment.

Lucy Ascham has been an Alexander Technique teacher since 2003 and loves to write about the practical applications of this method of thinking, being and moving.  She is in the Top 10 UK Alexander Technique Blog awards 2018.

Written by Lucy Ascham, Body & Soul Energy Expert

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"I had a traumatic accident a few years ago. After you ‘wriggled’ my head it felt weird – and really good. I could walk evenly for the first time in years!! I’m making friends with my body.”

Zoe, Singer

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Julian Davis, Retired Professor of Medicine & Pianist

"I've just had two enjoyable and useful sessions with Lucy on Zoom. I had been doubtful about how it would work but I was pleased with how it went. Of course, nothing is as good as face-to-face but we are where we are and this was great and has helped me to progress as I had hoped. Thank you. Looking forward to the next ones!"


"Lucy's sessions are amazing. Her unique blend of skills helped me have good posture without effort. Before this, I had seen many physiotherapists and osteopaths, but the pain kept coming back within a few weeks. Even after my first session with Lucy, the difference was so clear that my friends commented on it. After several months, the effects are being maintained with her support."




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