There is an ever increasing amount of good quality research into the efficacy of Alexander Technique lessons.
Chronic low back pain… the ATEAM Trial published 2008.
This excellent study showed that participants who attended Alexander Technique lessons had significantly less days in pain and were less incapacitated than those who had experienced usual GP care. This benefit was still evident a year later.
• only 3 days in pain per month (compared with 21 days per month for the control group who received usual GP care alone) – an 86% reduction one year after the trial started
• significant improvements in function and quality of life, with a 42% increase in the number of everyday activities that could be carried out without being limited by back pain, compared with the control group.
Chronic neck pain… the ATLAS Trial, published in 2015.
Participants who had attended Alexander Technique lessons during this trial experienced nearly a third less pain and associated disability (a 31% reduction) at the end of the trial, 1 year later.
• This reduction was significantly greater than that experienced by the group who received usual GP-led care alone, and was large enough to be considered clinically relevant.
• The extent to which people were able to manage their pain (‘self-efficacy’) increased more in the Alexander group than in the usual care alone group, and this increase in self-efficacy was associated with a greater reduction in pain and associated disability at 1 year.
• Following Alexander lessons, improvement was also seen in people’s mental health at 1 year, as revealed by a self-report quality-of-life questionnaire.
• No safety issues related to Alexander lessons were identified.
An excellent study published in 2002, showed that Alexander Technique lessons helped people with Parkinson’s to cope better with everyday life. It also demonstrated that lessons helped people feel better in themselves.
The results of the main measure clearly showed:
• Of the approaches tested, lessons in the Alexander Technique (AT) provided the most benefit. Following 24 AT lessons, participants performed everyday activities with less difficulty than the control group, at both best (p=0.04) and at worst times of day (p=0.0004).
• At 6-months’ follow-up the comparative improvement was maintained both at best times (p=0.03 and worst times of day (p=0.01).
• The improvement in the massage group was not statistically significant. This indicated that the benefits from the AT lessons were due to learning and applying skills over and above any improvement due to touch and personal attention.
• Post-intervention, ie during the follow-up period, the AT group was significantly less likely to have adjusted their Parkinson’s medication to cope with worsening symptoms during the trial than were the other two groups (p=0.001). This intriguing finding merits further research.
• At 6-months’ follow-up, of the participants who had not changed their medication for whatever reason, a smaller proportion of the AT group than the other two groups, reported worsening symptoms, (p=0.045).
The secondary measures showed the AT group to be less depressed after 24 lessons compared with the control group (p=0.03) on the pre-determined questions in the Beck Depression Inventory.
In an open-ended questionnaire, 41% of the AT group said that they felt more positive/hopeful as a result of the AT lessons; 35% said they felt less stress/panic, and 28% said they had improved self- confidence. When asked to list activities that had improved for them personally, 59% mentioned improved balance/posture, 48% mentioned improved walking, 38% improved speech and 28% reduced tremor. These answers were provided spontaneously rather than being elicited via specific questions
NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) updated their guidelines for Parkinson’s Disease in July 2017. They recommend Alexander Technique lessons for managing motor symptoms for people living with Parkinson’s.
Balance and fear of falling in the elderly … this is an area that we are looking at in more detail. There are a couple of older papers which showed that balance and confidence in older people were shown to be enhanced by Alexander Technique lessons in a group setting. There is more recent work on the reduction in fear of falling in older people following group interventions of Alexander Technique.
Posture and surgical ergonomic skills… there is a small study looking at how surgeons who tended to suffer from back pain as a result of their way of working, were helped via a series of Alexander Technique lessons.
Increased dynamic regulation of postural tone through Alexander Technique training… there is an increasing body of work looking at how lessons in the Alexander Technique help postural tone and enhance body coordination.
For a full list of the research into the benefits of Alexander Technique lessons click this link, https://alexandertechnique.co.uk/alexander-technique/research