Related Terms

  • Feldenkrais method, guided movement-awareness, physical therapy, physiotherapy, proprioceptive musculoskeletal education, psycho-physiological reeducation, Rolfing®, tai chi, yoga.

Background

  • The Alexander technique is an educational program that teaches movement patterns and postures, with an aim to improve coordination and balance, reduce tension, relieve pain, alleviate fatigue, improve various medical conditions, and promote well-being. Actors, dancers, and athletes use the Alexander technique with the goal of improving performance. This technique is available through wellness centers, health education programs, and from individual practitioners.
  • The Alexander technique can be traced to F.M. Alexander, an Australian-English actor, who attributed his own intermittent voice loss to poor head and neck posture. Alexander believed that people could be trained to detect and eliminate harmful movement patterns and positions.
  • Musculoskeletal approaches like the Alexander technique are advocated by many behavioral scientists and physiologists, although there are few scientific studies of this technique specifically.

Evidence Table

    Disclaimer

    These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

    Asthma (chronic)

    There is not enough scientific evidence to make a strong recommendation for the use of the Alexander technique in asthma patients. More study is needed in this area.

    Back pain

    There is limited evidence in this area, and no firm conclusion can be drawn based on scientific research.

    Balance

    Limited research suggests that functional reach performance may be improved through Alexander technique instruction, particularly in people older than 65 years. Better quality evidence is needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

    Lung function

    There is a small amount of research on the effects of the Alexander technique on lung function in healthy people and musicians who play wind instruments. Until better evidence is available, it remains unclear if the Alexander technique improves lung capacity.

    Parkinson’s disease

    Early research suggests that Alexander technique instruction may improve fine and gross movements and reduce depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Additional human research is needed before a clear recommendation can be made.

    Posture in children

    The Alexander technique has been suggested as a means to improve children’s postural development. The long-term effects of such instruction are not known.

    Stuttering

    There is not enough scientific evidence to make a strong recommendation for the use of the Alexander technique in patients who stutter. More study is needed in this area.

    Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) chronic pain

    Early case series data suggest that Alexander technique instruction may reduce symptoms in people with TMJ chronic pain. More human research is needed before a clear recommendation can be made.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

    Disclaimer

    The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

Safety

    Disclaimer

    Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.

Attribution

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ().

Bibliography

    Disclaimer

    Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to . Selected references are listed below.

  • Austin JH, Ausubel P. Enhanced respiratory muscular function in normal adults after lessons in proprioceptive musculoskeletal education without exercises. Chest 1992;102(2):486-490.
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  • Cacciatore TW, Horak FB, Henry SM. Improvement in automatic postural coordination following alexander technique lessons in a person with low back pain. Phys Ther 2005;85(6):565-578.
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  • Dennis RJ. Musical performance and respiratory function in wind instrumentalists: effects of the Alexander technique of musculoskeletal education (abstract). Dissertation Abstracts International 1988;48(7):1689a.
  • Dennis J. Alexander technique for chronic asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000;(2):CD000995.
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  • Dennis RJ. Functional reach improvement in normal older women after Alexander Technique instruction. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 1999;54(1):M8-11.
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  • Ernst E, Canter PH. The Alexander technique: a systematic review of controlled clinical trials. Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd 2003;10(6):325-329.
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  • Knebelman S. The Alexander technique in diagnosis & treatment of craniomandibular disorders. Basal Facts 1982;5(1):19-22.
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  • Little P, Lewith G, Webley F, et al. Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain. BMJ 2008 Aug 19;337:a884.
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  • Maitland S, Horne R, Burtin M. An exploration of the application of the Alexander technique for people with learning disabilities. Br J Learn Disabil 1996;24:70-76.
  • Nuttall W. The Alexander principle: a consideration of its relevance to early childhood education in England today. Eur Early Child Ed Res J 1999;7(2):87-101.
  • Schulte D, Walach HFM. Alexander technique in the treatment of stuttering– a randomized single-case intervention study with ambulatory monitoring. Psychother Psychosom 2006;75(3):190-191.
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  • Stallibrass C. An evaluation of the Alexander Technique for the management of disability in Parkinson’s disease–a preliminary study. Clin Rehabil 1997;11(1):8-12.
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  • Stallibrass C, Hampson M. The Alexander technique: its application in midwifery and the results of preliminary research into Parkinson’s. Complement Ther Nurs.Midwifery 2001;7(1):13-18.
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  • Swinburne C. From the top. Nurs Stand. 1-25-2006;20(20):20-22.
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  • Valentine ER, Gorton TL, Hudson JA, et al. The effect of lessons in the Alexander technique on music performance in high and low stress situations. Psychol Music 1995;23:129-141.