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Relief at Hand for Chronic Back Pain

Randomized Clinical Trial shows Alexander Technique most effective

According to findings published by the prestigious British Medical Journal, people with chronic or recurrent back pain can find long term benefits learning the Alexander Technique. A $1.5M study showed that lessons in the technique provided an individualised approach to reducing back pain.

The trial showed that 24 one-to-one lessons in the Alexander Technique led to important improvements in function, quality of life and reduction of days in pain.

A team from Southampton and Bristol Universities recruited nearly 600 patients with chronic or recurring back pain from 64 areas in England. The patients were put into one of four types of treatment - normal care such as painkillers, physiotherapy or GP referral, massage, six Alexander Technique lessons, or 24 AT lessons.

Of all the approaches tested, 24 Alexander Technique lessons proved to be the most beneficial, with significant improvements after a year. People learned to sit, stand and move correctly, and worked on their posture. The researchers found that exercise combined with AT lessons significantly reduced pain and improved functioning, but the benefits of massage generally disappeared after three months.

Co-author, Professor Paul Little of the University of Southampton, said: "The results of this study revealed that the Alexander Technique can help back pain. ....It probably does this by limiting muscle spasm, strengthening postural muscles, improving coordination and flexibility and decompressing the spine. This is a significant step forward in the long-term management of low back pain."

This is the first long-term study of its kind into the Alexander Technique, which has been taught since 1904, but until now there has been no thorough investigation into its long-term effectiveness. Read the entire study.

The Alexander Technique is a taught self-help method that helps people recognise, understand, and avoid poor habits affecting postural tone and neuromuscular coordination. Lessons involve an individualised approach designed to provide lifelong skills for self care that can lead to a wide variety of benefits.

E-mail contact: E-mail Beverley MacWatt at beverley@alexanderworkcs.ca