What is the Alexander Technique?

What is the Alexander Technique? Answer - Unlike other back pain treatments, where the patient passively sits by while some type of technology (medications, ultrasound, inversion therapy device) or physical hands on manipulations (chiropractor, osteopath) tries to repair their body, patients are actively involved in treating themselves. Depending on the reasons for the patients back pain, the Alexander technique may be very effective in treating the cause of the symptoms. Think about it, if bad posture, patterns of movements at work, or poor ergonomic positions that you use is the cause of your back pain, all the analgesics or physical therapy sessions in the world are not going to make your symptoms go away. The Alexander technique involves one-on-one sessions with an expert instructor and a patient to learn the concepts of good body mechanics and posture, how to recognize bad posture and patterns of movement in themselves, and how to inhibit bad habits and develop a new mental direction. If a person's patterns of movement are one of the causes of back pain, then they may experience some back pain relief in one to a few sessions, though most instructors recommend as many as thirty sessions.

The Alexander technique is a way of learning how to sit, stand, and move your body so that you don't strain muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support your joints beyond a healthy range. Working with your instructor, you will begin to observe some of positional and movement habits that you have acquired over the course of a lifetime. As you become more aware of many of the body movement habits that you have unconsciously been doing since your childhood, your instructor will begin to make suggestions on how to do things better, with less compression on your joints, and that are more protective of your weight-bearing joints. As you become more aware of some of your bad movements, you may then be able to replace them with healthier ones. Be aware of the habit, inhibit your reaction and develop a new mental direction.

The Alexander technique was developed by Frederick Matthias Alexander, who was not some visionary doctor but an actor, who began experiencing chronic laryngitis during his performances. Despite the best efforts of the medical community, his doctors were unable to treat or correctly diagnose his problem. When no one else was able to help him, Alexander began searching for the source of the problem himself. Eventually, he was able to discover that the cause of his problems were excess tension in his neck and body. As he began to alter his body mechanics in order to relieve these tensions, his voice gradually improved, and he was able to move his body better, as well. Alexander is quoted as saying, "For in the mind of man lies the secret of his ability to resist, to conquer and finally to govern the circumstances of his life." Luckily for Alexander and the patient community, the doctors familiar with Alexander's case were believers in his methods and his belief in the science of body mechanics, and encouraged him to come up with a system of teaching others what he had learned. He soon developed the system today known as the Alexander technique.