As a Vancouver chiropractor who’s practice is mainly comprised of back pain, neck pain, headaches and other limb pain, I often hear of people’s adventures with other forms of treatment. Many of these techniques are “named techniques”, or in other words they are named after the person who invented them. One of the techniques I hear about from time to time is the Alexander technique, and I dind’t give it much thought until this article appeared in the British Medical Journal.
In this study, 579 patients were randomly assigned into 4 different groups, and each intervention was applied with and without general exercise prescription:
Normal care from a GP
6 massage therapy treatments
6 lessons of Alexander technique
24 lessons of Alexander technique
Questionnaires were completed at 3 and 12 months. Overall, there was little improvement in the control group, while at 3 months significant improvements were found in the other 3 intervention groups. The massage benefits did not last through 12 months, while both the Alexander technique lesson groups maintained their benefits. In fact, the group which received 24 lessons acutally showed a better result at 12 months than at 3 months. When exercise was added to the interventions, it significantly improved the outcome of the 6 lesson group, but not the 24 lesson group.
This is a very large and well-structured study showing the potential benefits of the Alexander Technique in improving pain and disability levels for chronic back pain patients. Obviously this is just one study, but the fact that this study involved many clinics and many different practitioners gives it more validity. Below you will find a video produced by the BMJ demonstrating the Alexander Technique and describing their research.