The Beginner’s Guide to the Alexander Technique

Have you heard of the Alexander Technique before? Like most people, back pain will occur at least once in a person’s life. For some unfortunate people, chronic back pain will cause them to suffer for weeks to months at a time with no relief.

The Alexander Technique was developed in the 1890s and it is a way to relieve back pain. The technique is so utterly effective that even those with Parkinson’s disease have been able to find immense back relief and return to their everyday activities.

There have been dozens of studies on the effectiveness of this technique and they all seem to indicate that back pain is less substantial after adhering to these guidelines created over a century ago.

Who Invented This Method?

Frederick Matthias Alexander created his own technique in the 1890s merely by accident. When he was speaking as an orator, he found that after a while, he would slowly lose his voice. Obviously, for an orator, this could be a career threatening problem that needed to be fixed.

After consulting with doctors, he was left without any answers. This led to a very curious case of mere survival. To be able to speak for long periods of time, something had to be done to correct the issue. But what?

The Alexander Technique is a way to feel better, and move in a more relaxed and comfortable way… the way nature intended. –

Eventually, he came to the conclusion that when he was speaking, he must have been doing something to strain his vocal cords. The results were astonishing.

Without going into too much depth on his study, he eventually found that his current posture was disrupting his breathing and vocal cords. This was done by naturally contracting muscles within the body.

Check Out: 5 Best Exercises for Improving Posture

After some time and practice, Alexander went on to develop a technique of relaxation and correction that would follow the body’s natural posture. While not a relaxation exercise, the technique revolves around education of the patient so that they can adjust their habits and eventually correct them.

After self-success, he quickly noticed that others were naturally tightening muscles unrequired for certain activities.

Eventually, the system was being applied to those with back pain and Parkinson’s with great success. Alexander would die in 1955, but he went on to teach others the technique for over 25 years.

Who Can Benefit From This System?

The great thing about this technique is that it does not require medications or drastic life changes. In fact, there are no side effects from utilizing and applying these technique at all. Instead, a person can start to use this technique immediately to find relief.

However, this will not help with every pain or problem a person has. Instead, anyone with the following pains or health-related problems will be able to find relief by applying the basic techniques that the author developed over 100 years ago.

  • Back Pain: Most of the problems that people face with back pain occur because of posture faults. By learning how to properly align the body and identify harmful habits, a person will find that back pain starts to subside and does not return. This is not meant for just the minor back pain sufferers, but it has worked with those that have chronic pains that have hindered their mobility and lifestyle.
  • Performance Issues: Singers, runners and athletes that routinely push their body to the limits also harm themselves greatly by not learning and changing their core habits. By using this system, less injuries occur, performance is boosted and chronic pains are eliminated.
  • Carpal Tunnel and Strains: Today’s society is prone to carpal tunnel syndrome merely because of the long hours we spend in front of the computer. By learning the negative habits that are causing strain on your wrist, you can alleviate pain caused by carpal tunnel and even reverse the effects of the disease.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: A loss of nerve function and muscle control can occur with Parkinson’s. Those diagnosed with the disease have seen amazing results by applying these techniques into their everyday lives. This leads to less pain and overall discomfort and actually allows these practitioners to regain control of their lives.

A factorial randomised trial of 579 UK patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain, reported in 2008 in the British Medical Journal, found that patients who received Alexander Technique lessons reported afterwards having less back pain and significant improvement in their quality of life. – wikipedia

Virtually every active person can utilize these techniques to change their lives. While often used for those already suffering from pain, these techniques, when learned early on, can be used as pain preventers.

How the Alexander Technique Works

There are two ways to learn these techniques and apply them: Physical training in a classroom of 10 – 40 people by a certified instructor or by self-study. The former is the best option for anyone in severe pain, but either will work well as long as the techniques are applied properly.

In a classroom setting, the instructor will watch your movements and often use their hands to further understand what stresses you are putting on your muscles. This can also be done in self-study and is taught in lessons.

Check Out: 5 Negative Effects of Bad Posture on Your Body and Mind

The first few sessions or weeks spent studying are used to get a better understanding of the way the body works and what habits you have formed.

Oftentimes, this phase is called awareness as it makes the person practicing awareness of their body and their habits. Once you know what to look for in your own habit patterns, the real training can begin. Training will include:

  • Conscious Control: This is the conscious control of the muscles and body. This is a phase which is meant to help you develop a natural habit.
  • Inhibition: Often dubbed the most important technique or principle, inhibition is when a person stops or prevents a misuse that comes natural to them. If your neck is always slanted causing neck pain, inhibition would be the correction of this slant the moment it occurs leading to unnecessary habits being broken.
  • Control: The relationship that is shared among the head, neck and spine. This is a learning of using the whole body when initiating a movement correctly.

The techniques are often done in front or mirrors so that you will be able to correct your errors appropriately while sitting, standing or performing an action.

The goal is for perfect alignment of the body, in particular the spine, neck and head.

Further Resources