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Evidence

Scientific Evidence

“…one-to-one lessons in the Technique led to long-term benefits: a reduction in the number of days in pain and significant improvement in function and quality of life.”

Below is a selection of some scientific research papers testifying to the effects of the Alexander Technique.

Pain: Back pain

Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain

A randomised controlled trial of Alexander lessons was published in the British Medical Journal 20th August 2008. Its main conclusion was that individual lessons in the Technique have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain. 579 patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain were recruited from 64 GP practices. Patients were randomly allocated to certified teachers, and control groups included patients receiving massage, exercise, or GP normal care. Lessons in the Alexander Technique outperformed all control groups. The results showed that taking one-to-one lessons in the Technique led to long-term benefits: a reduction in the number of days in pain and significant improvement in function and quality of life.

Little P et al (2008) in British Medical Journal 337:a884.

The research results were widely reported in the press: The TimesThe Guardian,  The TelegraphDaily MailBBC.

“Back pain – single biggest cause of sickness absence… resulting in lost working days, increased sick pay and reduced productivity” Healthatwork.org.uk

Pain: Neck pain

Alexander Technique Lessons or Acupuncture Sessions for Persons With Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Trial

The conclusion of a large randomized controlled trial with 517 patients with chronic neck pain is that lessons in the Alexander Technique led to significant reductions in neck pain and associated disability. Study evaluated clinical effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons or acupuncture versus usual care for persons with chronic, nonspecific neck pain and found that both are effective.

MacPherson, Hugh et al. (2015) in Annals of Internal Medicine, 2015;163:653-662.

Pain: General

Taking Charge Choosing a New Direction: A Service Evaluation of Alexander Technique Lessons for Pain Clinic Patients SEAT: an Approach to Pain Management

A clinical trial carried out in an experimental setting demonstrating the therapeutic value and effectiveness of Alexander Technique (AT) lessons for chronic back pain. Findings suggest that lessons in the AT are feasible, acceptable and beneficial in terms of improving quality of life and patients’ management of pain as well as reducing pain related NHS costs by half. Greatest changes were found in how the patients/students managed their pain (more than half stopped or reduced their medication) and the impact that the pain had on their daily lives.

McClean, S. and Wye, L. (2012) in Project Report. UWE Bristol, Bristol.

Early Experiences of a Multidisciplinary Pain Management Programme

Chronic pain sufferers participated in a multiple-intervention study. During the study, after three months, and one year later, the subjects rated the Alexander Technique as the most helpful method for relieving chronic pain.

Fisher K (1988) in Holistic Medicine, 3(1):47-56. (The journal has since been renamed Journal of Interprofessional Medicine.)

Diseases: Knee osteoarthritis

Reductions in co-contraction following neuromuscular re-education in people with knee osteoarthritis

Following Alexander Technique (AT) instruction, there was a significant reduction in knee pain and stiffness and an improvement in function which appeared to be maintained at 15 months post-baseline. This study demonstrates the potential efficacy of interventions, such as the AT, which can successfully modify muscle activation patterns in patients with knee OA.

Preece, Stephen J. et al. (2016) in Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Diseases: Parkinson’s Disease

Randomized Controlled Trial of the Alexander Technique for Ideopathic Parkinsons Disease

This study assigned 93 subjects to receive Alexander Technique lessons, massage, or no treatment. AT lessons (but not massage) led to significant improvement in self-assessed disability, both immediately after the lessons and six months later.

Stallibrass, C; Sissons, P; Chalmers, C (2002) in Clinical Rehabilitation, 16(7):695-708.

Lighten Up: Specific Postural Instructions Affect Axial Rigidity and Step Initiation in Patients With Parkinson’s Disease

Instructions based on the Alexander Technique given to people with Parkinson’s Disease led to reduced postural sway, reduced axial postural tone, greater modifiability of tone, and a smoother center of pressure trajectory during step initiation, possibly indicating greater movement efficiency.

Cohen, Rajal et al (2015) in Neural Rehabilitation & Neural Repair, Journal of the American Society of Neurorehabilitation.

Breathing

Enhanced Respiratory Muscular Function in Normal Adults after Lessons in Proprioceptive Musculo-skeletal Education without Exercises

This study examined respiratory function in adults. Spirometry tests demonstrated that Alexander Technique lessons led to improvement of respiratory muscular function.

Austin J.; Ausubel P. (1992) in Chest, 102:486-490.

Movement

Prolonged weight-shift and altered spinal coordination during sit-to-stand in practitioners of the Alexander Technique

This study compared coordination of 14 teachers of the Alexander Technique to 15 healthy control subjects during rising from a chair. The Alexander Technique teachers were able to achieve a smoother, more continuous movement than the control subjects, consistent with previous claims that the Alexander Technique teaches more efficient movement.

Cacciatore, T. W. et al. (2011) in Gait and Posture.

Increased dynamic regulation of postural tone through Alexander Technique training

This study quantified postural tone by measuring resistance in the hips, trunk, and neck to very slow twisting during standing. Comparing teachers of the Alexander Technique (who undergo 1600 hours of training over three years) to age-matched control subjects, resistance was 50% lower while phase advance was greater. Similar changes (to a lesser degree) occurred in subjects with lower back pain after undergoing ten weekly lessons in the Alexander Technique. These results suggest that the Alexander Technique enhances dynamic modulation of postural tone.

Cacciatore, T. W. et al. (2011) in Human Movement Science, 30(1): 74–89.

The Impact of the Alexander Technique in Improving Posture and Surgical Ergonomics during Minimally Invasive Surgery: Pilot Study

This pilot study found that surgeons who underwent instruction in the Alexander Technique experienced a significant improvement in posture and surgical ergonomics as well as decreased surgical fatigue.

Reddy P et al. (2011) in Journal of Urology, 186(4), supplement: 1658-1662.

Improvement in Automatic Postural Coordination Following Alexander Technique Lessons in a Person with Low Back Pain

This case report describes the use of the Alexander Technique with a client with a 25-year history of low back pain. After lessons, her postural responses and balance improved and her pain decreased. The introduction includes a thorough explanation of the Alexander Technique from a scientific perspective

Cacciatore, T. W. et al. (2005) in Physical Therapy, 85(6):565-78.

Functional reach improvement in normal older women after Alexander Technique instruction

Women aged 65-88 who received 8 Alexander Technique lessons showed a 36% improvement in forward-reaching distance (a common measure of balance control), while control subjects of the same age showed a 6% decrease over the same time-period.

Dennis, R. (1999) in Journal of Gerontology – Series A: Biological and Medical Sciences, 54A(1): M8-M11.

Method for Changing Stereotyped Response Patterns by the Inhibition of Certain Postural Sets

Postural habits can be profoundly affected by the Alexander Technique, specifically by learning and applying the concept of inhibition.

Jones FP (1965) in Psychological Review, 72(3):196-214.

Stress

A Study of Stress Amongst Professional Musicians

This study examined performance stress in musicians, and found that the Alexander Technique was as effective as beta-blocker medications in controlling the stress response during an orchestra performance.

Nielsen M (1994) in The Alexander Technique: Medical and Physiological Aspects, Chris Stevens (Ed.) STAT Books, London.

The above listing is not exhaustive. Synopsis kindly provided by AmSAT.