About the Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is a method of mental and physical re-education taught individually, which has the effect of reducing unnecessary tension in human activity.
The Technique is concerned with thinking, balance and ease of movement in any activity throughout our daily lives, whether at work or at play. From childhood to old age, those who practise it learn how to use themselves to best advantage.
Everyone can benefit from the Technique. Most of us become accustomed to unnecessary tension through unconsciously acquired habits. The Technique helps eliminate harmful habits and encourage a more balanced state.
It is widely recognised as an effective means of alleviating or preventing back problems and many other disorders.
In a society where more working days are lost each year through stress related conditions than from any other cause, the Alexander Technique has a vital part to play.
Institutions using the Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is a well-established method for improving performance.
Some of the many institutions which include the Technique in their teaching are:
- The Menuhin School
- London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
- Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
- Juilliard School
- New York University
- Metropolitan Opera
- Guildhall School of Music and Drama
- Royal National Theatre
- Central School of Speech and Drama
- Royal College of Music
- Goldsmith’s College
The Alexander Technique has proved beneficial in several areas of health and well-being.
A major medical study, published in 2008 by the British Medical Journal, found that lessons in the Alexander Technique have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain, and are cost-effective.
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. 19;337:a884, 2008. The full study is available at http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/aug19_2/a884.
The Alexander Technique may be beneficial in reducing repetitive strain injuries.
“Effects of the Alexander Technique on muscle activation during a computer-mouse task.” Shafarman E., Geisler Mark W. The Alexander Journal. 21: 53-63, 2005.
This study showed that Alexander Technique lessons can offer substantial benefit for people with Parkinson’s disease.
Stallibrass C. et al. “Randomized controlled trial of the Alexander Technique for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease”. Clinical Rehabilitation. 16:705-718, 2002.
A study at Columbia University demonstrated that the Technique can enhance respiratory functioning in normal older adults.
Austin JHM, Ausubel P. “Enhanced respiratory muscular function in normal adults after lessons in proprioceptive musculoskeletal education without exercises.” Chest. 102(2):486-490, 1992.
In a study in a pain management clinic the patients rated the Alexander Technique the best of 13 activities used.
Fisher K et al. ‘Early experiences of a multidisciplinary pain management programme’. Holistic Medicine. 3:47-56, 1988.
“Alexander’s procedure and conclusions meet all the requirements of the strictest scientific method. It bears the same relation to education that education itself bears to all other human activities.”
Introduction to Alexander’s The Use of the Self, 1932
“The Alexander Technique gives us all the things we have been looking for in a system of physical education; relief from strain due to maladjustment and consequent improvement in physical and mental health; and along with this a heightening of consciousness on all levels. We cannot ask more from any system; nor, if we seriously desire to alter human beings in a desirable direction, can we ask any less.”
Ends and Means, 1937
“I have given a good deal of attention to some of the various methods [of physical education], and have formed a definite opinion as to which is the best of those that came under my observation. I should, without hesitation, give first place to the system associated with the name of Mr. F. Matthias Alexander. He has secured remarkable results.”
Dr. Alexander Leeper
Report to the Australian Federal Government’s Schools and Registration Board, 1909