The Scientific Evidence
Clinical trials that prove the benefits of The Alexander Technique for back and neck pain, and numerous research projects for other health conditions ensure its inclusion in the NICE guidelines (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) .
An increasing awareness of the success of the Alexander Technique amongst healthcare professionals is also helping the population in general to realise the importance of self-care for long term health benefits.
Below you will find short summaries of some of the scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique.
Randomised controlled trial of Alexander Technique lessons, Exercise, and Massage (ATEAM) for patients with chronic low back pain
Brief summary of results:
One- to- one lessons in the Alexander technique from registered teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic low back pain.
- 24 Alexander Technique lessons proved to be most beneficial – after 1 year those who had Alexander Technique lessons had an average 3 days of pain per month compared with 21 days per month with usual GP care
- Alexander Technique lessons led to less incapacity, people were able to carry out significantly more types of daily tasks without being limited by back pain
- The study also looked at the additional effect of general regular aerobic exercise (such as walking) and found that 6 Alexander Technique lessons followed by exercise were about 70% as effective as 24 lessons (with or without exercise) in terms of improvement in incapacity and 65% as effective in terms of reduction in number of days in pain
- Long-term benefits unlikely to be due to placebo effect
Alexander Technique and Supervised Physiotherapy Exercises in back paiN (ASPEN): a four-group randomised feasibility trial
ASPEN was a small study designed to assess the feasibility of a full trial; with one of the main aims being to explore whether Alexander lessons can be successfully combined with supervised physiotherapy exercises for people with chronic back pain.
The conclusion was that a trial is feasible and the interventions may provide clinically important benefits. Exploratory analysis suggests that muscle tone, elasticity and proprioception are strongly associated with improved RMDQ score and are likely to be modified by the interventions.
Alexander Technique Lessons or Acupuncture sessions for persons with chronic neck pain: (ATLAS) A randomised trial
Chronic neck pain is a difficult condition to manage and additional approaches are needed, particularly ones that have a strong self-care basis. The Alexander Technique is, by its very nature, a self-care method. Acupuncture can include a self-care aspect as acupuncturists often provide dietary and lifestyle advice. The ATLAS trial evaluated the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons or acupuncture, each compared with usual care alone, for people with chronic neck pain.
- Both Alexander Technique lessons and acupuncture sessions led to statistically significant and clinically relevant reductions in neck pain and associated disability, compared with usual care alone, at 1 year.
- The sustained, long-term benefit is likely to be due, in part, to the participants’ gain in self-efficacy resulting from the Alexander lessons or the acupuncture sessions.
Randomised controlled trial of the Alexander Technique for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease
This study demonstrated that Alexander Technique lessons led to an increased ability of people with Parkinson’s disease to carry out everyday activities.
- The study showed that Alexander lessons led to a significantly increased ability to carry out everyday activities compared with usual medical care (there was no significant change in the massage group).
- This benefit remained when the participants were followed up 6 months later.
- An additional finding, which deserves further study, was a significantly lower rate of change of Parkinson’s disease medication in the Alexander group than for either of the other groups (medication dose generally increases with time in this progressive disease).
- Participants also reported subjective improvements in balance, posture and walking, as well as increased coping ability and reduced stress.
The Alexander Technique is included in the NICE guidelines (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) due to these positive outcomes.
For more details of other research projects or for direction to more in depth information please click on alexandertechnique.co.uk and then Research.