It is encouraging that the NHS website includes an overview of the Alexander Technique in the ‘Choices’ section of the site. This gives a description of the AT and also includes details of some research studies which have investigated aspects and outcomes of having Alexander Technique lessons.
NHS Choices states that there is evidence the Alexander Technique may help to relieve long term back pain and acknowledges that there is preliminary evidence to suggest it may help with Parkinson’s Disease, depression, avoidance of falling, improving respiratory function and stuttering.
Anecdotal Evidence and Support from the Scientific Community.
There has always been support for the Alexander Technique from members of the medical profession and the scientific community. When F M Alexander was developing the Technique in the 1920’s, he had the support of eminent scientists such as the psychologist and educational reformer Prof John Dewey, the anatomist Prof Raymond Dart and the neurophysiologist Sir Charles Sherrington. When F M was establishing his first teacher training course in 1930, he was also supported by a large number of doctors who respected and valued his work. Still later in 1973 when Nikolaas Tinbergen became Nobel Laureate for Physiology and Medicine, he devoted a section of his acceptance speech to describing the benefits of the Alexander Technique.
There is by now a wealth of anecdotal evidence re the benefits of learning the Technique, such as can be seen from the Testimonials section of my website. Conditions which people mention as having improved with learning the AT include:
- Back Pain
- Mood swings
- Repetitive Strain Injuries
Students also found AT lessons aided: recuperation; reduction in the use of pain relief medication; pregnancy and childbirth; general wellbeing; confidence; musical performance; running marathons! These are just some of the ways in which people have found the AT has helped them and an exploration of the literature available about the Alexander Technique will reveal many other conditions, activities and lifestyles that have benefited from the application of AT work.
Research based Evidence
As yet, only some aspects of the Technique have been researched and only a few large scale clinical trials have taken place but an increasing amount of research is being undertaken to investigate the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique. The NHS considers some of these studies robust enough to scientifically support the claims that both Alexander teachers and their pupils have made about the Technique and includes references to these in their article, including the ATEAM Trial in which the AT came out as the most effective treatment for patients with chronic and recurrent back pain.
If you would like to find out more about more research that has been done, The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique website lists a much wider range of studies than does the NHS site, including the major studies and some of the small scale preliminary ones which have begun evaluating the Technique. These studies indicate a wider range of possible benefits to be gained from taking AT lessons and further research into these topics would be advantageous. Of course funding is an issue as large scale clinical trials are costly but STAT’s Research Group is keen to support and promote further AT research within academic institutions.