Research proves that Alexander Technique eases back pain

Wednesday 20th August, 2008

back painAdopting good posture by using the Alexander Technique can ease long-term back pain, UK research has shown.

The Alexander Technique focuses on posture and coordination by teaching people how to sit, stand and walk which in turn relieves pain.

The latest research published in the British Medical Journal is one of the first to provide evidence of the complementary therapy’s effectiveness.

Back pain is the second biggest cause of days off sick and nearly half of the UK suffer some form of back pain. 15% of people will have back pain that leads to a chronic problem.

The new research was funded by the NHS and Medical Research Council and the results are a major step forward for validation of complementary therapy and alternative medicine methods.

The trials were carried out at Southampton University and Bristol University and combines GP care, massage and Alexander Technique classes for 463 patients over one year.

At the end of the study, patients receiving Alexander Technique suffered just three days of back pain per month. Those receiving GP care suffered with 21 days and had to attend regular consultations that would include pain killers and exercise for some patients. Those who had massage suffered 14 days of back pain.

Within the Alexander Technique group, two separate groups were formed with one taking part in 24 lessons and the other group attending just six. The 24 lesson group were the patients who suffered just three days of back pain compared to 11 days for the group who attended six lessons.

“Lessons in the Alexander technique offer an individualised approach to develop skills that help people recognise, understand, and avoid poor habits affecting postural tone and neuromuscular coordination,” said lead researcher Professor Debbie Sharp.

“It can potentially reduce back pain by limiting muscle spasm, strengthening postural muscles, improving coordination and flexibility, and decompressing the spine.”

The research was endorsed further by ‘Back Care’, a charity which offers support and advice to people with back pain.

“There is little evidence available about the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique so this research is welcome,” said researcher manager Dries Hettinga.

“The Alexander Technique is something we do recommend and the feedback we have got is good.”



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