Alexander Technique for back pain was invented by Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955). He was a professional orator who developed problems with his vocal cords. Alexander theorized that his problem came from muscular tension, inefficient movement and poor posture. Alexander worked to cure his own condition and then applied the principles he developed to other pain problems throughout the anatomy. Alexander taught that muscular tension builds up in the body over many years. This tension can lead to all kinds of nasty problems, including several varieties of back pain.
Alexander described his techniques as things you unlearn rather than learn. He meant that people develop bad habits with their posture, breathing and balance, as they age. His technique is designed to rid the patient of those bad habits. The lessons inherent to Alexander technique have helped many patients find relief from various health issues using purely conservative and holistic methods of care. This is a nice change in a healthcare industry which is typically obsessed with surgery and pharmaceutical treatment.
Alexander treatment is a fast growing sector of the complementary health industry. Clients are usually referred to as students, rather than patients.
Alexander technique teachers use hands-on correction and personal guidance to improve all the movements a student makes. The program is designed to allow the student to learn the best way to move and breathe during all their daily activities.
Instruction is usually performed one on one or in very small groups. Obviously, with such an individualized therapy modality, the more attention each student receives, the better the potential results can be.
There are also study-at-home courses, as well as many books on the Alexander technique. It would seem rather difficult to learn this method from a book, since it really involves a lot of touching and physical guidance. Of course, these self-help methods of care are much more affordable, giving patients who are interested in Alexander the chance to learn more without breaking the bank.
Alexander method teaches proper kinaesthesia. This means that it shows a student how to move correctly to avoid health problems and cure existing conditions. While it seems that Alexander technique might be healthy and worthwhile, I am not sure if it is the best treatment for most dorsopathy conditions. After all, posture education alone will not cure chronic back pain, unless bad posture is the prime cause of symptoms.
Alexander technique is rather mysterious since much of the treatment is taught by private teachers. Some of these instructors do not make it clear exactly how their sessions will help to overcome a long standing pain complaint, but some patients swear by the results, nonetheless. Basically, learning Alexander technique has very few risks, except those incurred financially. Many patients who do not report good efficacy for pain relief still believe the sessions to be beneficial, since they do learn better movement and breathing skills which may enhance other facets of their lives.
I like the idea that the Alexander technique for back pain is 100% holistic and natural. There is certainly some good to be learned about efficiency of movement, proper posture and constructive breathing. These are all healthy and wonderful things. However, I am just not sure if this would be my chosen treatment option, unless I have tried everything else. Remember, Alexander presupposes a controversial physical reason for the pain, which is often not the real problem at all.
Patients with psychosomatic back pain are unlikely to benefit much from Alexander technique, unless it is by the power of the placebo reaction. Trying to convince a patient that their pain is due to some physical condition, such as poor posture or breathing, is not too much different than the way the medical community blames the common spinal scapegoats for back pain. We all know how ineffective this physically-focused mentality has proven to be within the back pain industry.
Maybe Alexander Technique is worth a try. It can’t hurt and might just be the magic bullet to help cure your pain. I would love to hear about your results using this method of care.