Fact Sheet - Alexander Technique - Learn your way out of pain

What is Alexander Technique?

 The overall aim of AT is to improve postural support and coordination by

consciously altering automatic responses and excess muscular activity. AT is safe (1), cost effective (2),

drug-free and has been found to reduce pain medication use (3).

 

Premise

A person’s general health and well-being can be improved by teaching them skills to integrate

cognition, postural support, breathing and balance. Alexander Technique provides strategies that

individuals can apply in everyday tasks to assist in minimising unnecessary muscle tension and

physical collapse.

 

What is learnt?

  • Skills that retrain response and action

  • Improved self-observation and awareness

  • Improved sensory appreciation

  • Conscious control of dynamic postural tone and muscle tension

  • Inhibition of task related anticipation and expectation

  • Ability to modify and improve breathing patterns

 

Benefits

AT provides both short and long-term gains for people in pain. People who learn AT modify their

perception of pain and the underlying causes of pain. This fosters confidence and perceived control

in the face of persistent pain. This can lead to improved self-efficacy. (4)

 

Applications

As an experiential, practical form of health education, AT is well placed to play an important role in

the biopsychosocial management of a wide variety of chronic musculoskeletal issues such as back

pain, neck pain, joint osteoarthritis, as well as gait, postural and balance conditions such as

Parkinson’s disease.

 

Evidence of effectiveness

Alexander Technique shows strong evidence for long term effectiveness for chronic back (5) and neck

pain (6) and Parkinson’s disease (7), and preliminary evidence for pain associated with knee

osteoarthritis (8).

Physiological effects of AT show significant improvements in coordination of movement, gait, motor

control and balance.

Assurance

In Australia, Alexander Technique teachers are professionally represented by the Australian Society

for Alexander Technique Teachers (AUSTAT). AUSTAT is affiliated with Alexander Technique societies

around the world. Teacher membership to AUSTAT is open only to those individuals who have

studied at an accredited Alexander Teacher Training School for a minimum of three years.

 

Further Research into Alexander Technique

Research into the benefits of AT and underlying mechanisms of action are ongoing. Refer to the

following link for more information on past and current research:

https://www.alexandertechnique.com/research.htm

Download this Fact Sheet

Written by

Australian Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique

PO Box 405 Beechworth Victoria 3747 | e: info@austat.org.au | p: 1300 788 540 | www.austat.org.au

References

(1) Woodman, J.P. and Moore, N.R. Evidence of the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons in medical and health

related conditions. Int. J. Clin. Pract. 2012, 66:98-112.

(2) Hollinghurst, S., Sharp, D., Ballard, K. Randomised controlled trial of Alexander Technique lessons, exercise and massage

(ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain: economic evaluation. BMJ 2008, 337; a2656.

(3) McLean, S., Brilleman, S., Wye, L. What is the perceived impact of Alexander Technique lessons on health status, costs

and pain management in the real life setting of an English hospital. The results of a mixed method evaluation of and

Alexander Technique service for those with chronic back pain. BMC Health Service Report 2015, 15: 293.

(4)  Woodman, J.P., Ballard, K., Hewitt, C. Self-efficacy and self-care related outcomes following Alexander Technique lessons

for people with chronic neck pain in the ATLAS randomised controlled trial. Eur. J. Integr. Med. 2018, 17: 64 -71.

(5) Little, P., Lewith, G., Webley, F., Evans, M., Beattie, A., Middleton, K., et al. Randomised controlled trial of Alexander

Technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic recurrent back pain. BMJ 2008, 337: a884.

(6) McPherson, H., Tilbrook, H., Richmond, S., et al. Alexander Technique lessons or acupuncture sessions for persons with

chronic neck pain. Ann. Intern. Med. 2015, 163: 653- 662.

(7) Stallibrass, C., Sissons, P., Chalmers, C., Randomized controlled trial of the Alexander Technique for

idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. Clin. Rehabil. 2002, 16(7): 695 -708.

(8) Preece, S.J., Jones R.K., Brown, C.A., Cacciatore, T.W., Jones, A. K.P. Reductions in co-contraction following neuromuscular

re-education in people with knee osteoarthritis. BMC Musc. Disorders 2016, 17: 372.