The Alexander Technique is a system that has been devised to reduce and prevent problems associated with unhelpful posture habits.
Think of it as “proactive spine and joint care” where you learn, via a series of lessons, how to improve poor posture and how to move more efficiently, thereby preventing tension in the body.
Those who teach the Alexander system claim it will help to reduce back pain, lower neck aches and pains, diminish sore shoulders and other musculoskeletal disorders and related pain.
Alexander Technique practitioners say that such problems are the result of sitting at a desk (for example) for extended periods for many hours per day, moving inefficiently, or unevenly distributing your weight while sitting.
If you want to find out how the Alexander technique may help you, read on!
The Alexander Technique is taught
Teachers of the system will help you to unlearn such bad habits and result in a more balanced, more aligned body, with corresponding pain and inflammation reductions.
Alexander Technique Principles
1. How you move, sit and stand will affect how well you function
2. The relationship of your head, neck and spine to each other is paramount
3. Help you to be more mindful in your daily routine
4. Recognize that the mind and body work together and influence each other
Learning the System
The Alexander Technique is taught on a one-on-one basis by a qualified teacher in a clinic, studio or the teacher’s home office and typically last for 30 minutes. It is suggested that participants wear loose-fitting clothing to allow easy movement.
The teacher shows the participant how to sit, move and stand with better balance and less strain on the musculoskeletal system. About 20 lessons are required to learn the basic concepts of the Alexander Technique and to practice them with the teacher present.
How is it difference to physical therapy?
Physical therapy, such as chiropractic or physiotherapy, focus on the treatment and management of musculoskeletal health issues, including diagnosis. Alexander Technique practitioners teach you better posture, movement and exercise habits so that your biomechanics improve.
It’s expected that improvement in lowering pain levels will be noticed within days of application of the technique. Commitment to applying the Alexander Technique by the participant throughout their typical day should help considerably, but it will be of little use where it’s ignored until the next session with the teacher.
It can’t be over-emphasized; learning how to move better yet not implementing the system, won’t accomplish much. The few minutes per week spent with the teacher won’t correct years of standing, sitting, lifting, and lying down incorrectly.
Who can be helped?
People of any age with back pain or neck pain, but particularly the elderly, those with disabilities resulting from injury, or those disabled by disorders such as fibromyalgia, or people who have spent years doing repetitive work or worked at a desk for many years.
If you experience poor posture and want to move better, this technique may be of use to you. You see, poor posture habits over a number of years can result in bodily aches and pains, awkward biomechanics and a reduction in overall performance and function.
This is not good.
By having better posture techniques and specific stretching and exercises taught to you, you stand to improve your posture into the longer term.
In the UK, Alexander Technique lessons are available privately, however, some practitioners offer group sessions, which can be a bonus for students as they can see the progression of different students at various stages of the training, and speak to them (briefly) about their experience.
Some National Healthcare Service (NHS) operations offer the Alexander Technique in their outpatient pain clinics. You’ll need to ask your MD to see if it’s available in your area.
The main benefit seems to be lowering the amount of daily pain medication required by those with musculoskeletal pain, making the lives of those with neurological conditions such as fibromyalgia more comfortable, and to prevent further damage to those people who suffer from pain caused by repetitive movements over many years.
You may wish to consult with your Medical Doctor (MD) or specialist to check if the Alexander Technique can help you.