Helping people with back pain and promoting healthier backs in Warrington, Cheshire

New research on Alexander Technique lessons for people with chronic neck pain

Clinical research has already shown that lessons in the Alexander Technique lead to significant
reductions in the pain and disability associated with chronic back pain.1 Now a new clinical trial has 
investigated how effective Alexander Technique lessons are for people with chronic neck pain.

Neck pain is the second most common health problem in the UK, after back pain. In a national survey,
18 per cent of people said they currently had neck pain, with over half still in pain 1 year later.
Furthermore, chronic (long-term) neck pain has been estimated to account for 1% of total UK
healthcare costs.

The Alexander Technique is a taught practical method for self care and self improvement. There is
clear evidence that lessons in the Technique lead to reductions in pain and stiffness, improved
postural muscle activity, co-ordination, balance and movement skills.1–5 Lessons relate to the way we
go about simple everyday activities and are based on the premise that how we conduct our daily lives
has long-term consequences for our health and well being. Teachers combine spoken advice with
special hands-on gentle guidance to help people reduce unwanted muscle tension and overcome
poor habits of posture and movement that can cause or aggravate pain.

A randomised, controlled clinical trial ATLAS trial, funded by Arthritis UK has shown that Alexander Technique lessons has long term benefits for people with chronic neck pain. The trial involved people with long term neck pain of 3 months or more, the median was 6 years in pain. Participants were offered 20 one to one Alexander Technique lessons alongside usual GP care and were compared with those continueing with GP led care. 

At the end of the trial (1 year) those receiving Alexander Technique lessons reported significantly reduced pain (31%) and associated disibility. There was also an improvement in participants mental health and self eficacy (there ability to manage their condition for themselves). 

Published ATLAS neck pain trial

As with the clinical trial into back pain, all the Alexander Technique teachers involved in this study are
STAT-certified teachers. STAT (Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique) is the largest and . 
longest established professional body of AT teachers in the UK and world-wide.

Read Saheema's story of how her neck improved with the Technique

References

1. Little P, Lewith G, Webley F et al. Randomised controlled trial of Alexander Technique lessons,
exercise and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain. BMJ 2008; 337: a884. 
2. Cacciatore TW, Gurfinkel VS, Horak FB, Cordo PJ, Ames KE. Increased dynamic regulation of
postural tone through Alexander Technique training. Hum Mov Sci 2011; 30: 74–89.
3. Cacciatore TW, Gurfinkel VS, Horak FB, Day BL. Prolonged weight-shift and altered spinal
coordination during sit-to-stand in practitioners of the Alexander Technique. Gait & Posture; e-
published ahead of print, 20 July 2011.
4. Cacciatore TW, Horak FB, Henry SM. Improvement in automatic postural coordination following
Alexander Technique lessons in a person with low back pain. Phys Ther 2005; 85: 565–78.
5. Reddy PP, Reddy TP, Roig-Francoli J, et al. The impact of the Alexander Technique on improving
posture and surgical ergonomics during minimally invasive surgery: pilot study. J Urol 2011; 186:
1658–62.