About Alexander Technique – take the handbrake off!
Alexander Technique is a mind/body method that has been around for about 100 years. It has lots of benefits, but one of the first ones you will notice is a reduction in excess muscle tension.
You learn just how much unnecessary hard work you are putting into everything, and literally just tone it down.
Learning the technique can feel like you have been driving around with the handbrake on, and when you take it off, everything is so much easier. And calming muscle tension can have quick results in pain relief too.
Don’t tack on extras, integrate change
Alexander technique is different to other methods you will have tried. Mainly because its not an extra add on – it’s something you integrate into your life.
Instead of set-aside time to do exercises for your back, say, or mindfulness, you just apply Alexander technique to every day life and activities.
You learn to have freer movement that calms pain and is more pleasurable. You learn to notice your bodily reactions to stress and pain and calm them down, so you are more ‘mindful’ while going about your life.
So, you can be soothing your pain and calming your system while walking, gardening, or even hoovering.
Once you have learnt the skills you don’t need lots of special time to keep it up; Alexander technique will just be part of life, making everything easier as you go.
The evidence that Alexander Technique helps pain
We have a couple of major clinical trials on the Alexander Technique and pain, and there are more in the pipeline.
British Medical Journal Back Pain Trial
Alexander technique was clinically proven to help back pain in a large scale NHS funded trial.
Results showed a significant reduction in days in pain/month with 24 Alexander technique lessons: From an average of 21 days with usual GP care, to just 3 days.
Just 6 lessons also had a big effect, when combined with exercise. The average days in pain was reduced from 21 to 11.
These are really good results; often trials show very mediocre changes in pain for patients that don’t mean much in the real world.
The ATLAS Neck Pain trial
The trial showed that Alexander Technique lessons result in clinically relevant reductions in neck pain, with lasting results, not just a temporary improvement.
You can read the full report here.
This short video gives an overview of what Alexander technique is and how we think it works to help posture, pain and well being.
About Pain Science Education
Pain science isn’t a therapy. It just means thinking about pain with a scientific approach– what does the evidence tell us about what helps it? What happens in the body, brain and nervous system when you have long term pain? There is still a lot that isn’t understood about pain, but there are some basics that have been around for over 40 years, but are still very often not being used when treating people with pain.
Pain is actually really weird and complex and involves brain and body and the nervous system linking the two.
But often you will only be told about what is seen on your x-ray or is happening in your body tissues. Or, at the other extreme, you are told that pain is ‘all in the mind’ just because nothing obvious can be seen in your body.
Neither of these over-simplistic approaches will help you to understand what is going on, or how get yourself better. You don’t need to know all the technical ins and outs, but you need the facts, not the nonsense that is often peddled about pain.