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How does the Alexander Technique help with back pain?

 

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One of the factors in non-specific low back pain is thought to be abnormal muscle tone with harmful uncoordinated tension of longitudinal and diagonal muscles along the spine and elsewhere, leading to shortening of the spine and compression of vertebrae and discs.
 
During Alexander Technique lessons the teacher assesses where there is unwanted tightening of muscles and helps the pupil recognize self-damaging habits that cause or aggravate their pain and to avoid them.
 
Once the pupil has learnt to recognise these harmful habits they are well on the way to helping themselves to solving their back pain problem. Learning how to carry out daily activities such as sitting, standing and bending in an easier and less harmful way can help eradicate the causes of back pain. 

Medical evidence supports Alexander Technique as an efffective treatment for back pain

In August 2008 a clinical trial was published in the British Medical Journal.

This scientific study compared the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons exercise and massage for chronic and recurrent back pain.

The study involved 579 patients. Results / outcomes were measured using the Roland Morris Disability Score where patients were asked to respond to statements representing the ways that back pain affects a patient’s life and also the number of days in pain over a 28 day period.

The best results of the trial were found in the group of patients receiving 24 Alexander Technique lessons. In this group one year after the trial the patients had a 42% reduction in the number of activities limited by lower back pain and the number of days in pain over a 28 day period had reduced to 3 days per month compared with 21 days in pain in the control group which received normal GP care.

This represents an 86% reduction in the number of days in pain.

For more information on the clinical trial
British Medical Journal Back Pain Trial

 

The Alexander Technique:
1. Has no side effects and is safe
2. Addresses the bio-psycho-social nature of chronic pain
3. Teaches you to identify the habits that might be creating your pain
4. Teaches you skills to improve body awareness
5. Helps you to know what to do to change the pain
6. Helps with pain that is related to posture, tension or movement patterns
7. Is a good alternative if pain treatments don’t work
8. Teaches you to work with yourself to change the pain
9. Calms the nervous system
10. Improves coordination
11. Looks at the whole system and reduces pressure on the whole system so the pain response is less likely
to be triggered
12. Gives you coping strategies
13. Gives you a new dimension for thinking about pain