Alexander Technique and Lower Back Pain

Alexander Technique and Lower Back Pain

The Basics

The Alexander Technique is a habit-based concept designed to help the patient get rid of the harmful tension in the body.

Named after F. Matthias Alexander, who was the first to observe and formulate its principles between 1890 and 1900, this method works by changing the movement habits in the everyday life.

This particular technique basically teaches the ability to develop a new pattern inspite of the established habitual patterns, by studying the kinesthetic evidence of the influence of thinking on the movement.

The Technique and Lower Back Pain

According to the National Back Pain Society, over 80% of all people living in the West are likely to suffer from a disabling lower back pain in their lives. Reports also reveal that a whopping sixty million working days are lost each year in the UK owing to this problem.

Stress on reforming postural and movement habits, the fundamental working principle of the Alexander Technique, has a direct impact on the chief cause of lower back pain, which is flawed body mechanics, faulty body posture and the like.

The Alexander Technique is primarily a re-education of the mind and body, helping the individual in discovering a new sense of balance by releasing the unnecessary tension and thus helping conditions like lower back pain.

The key to learning the Alexander Technique is developing an awareness of your body and its movements.

It teaches the patient the art of awareness in two basic steps:

Self-Analysis – This step involves analysing and becoming aware of how our body performs various actions. The student is taught to look into the way he/she moves while doing various actions, such as walking, sitting, standing etc.

For instance, with self-analysis, it is easy to note that if you slump while sitting, you are actually overusing certain muscles, while underutilising the others, thereby leading to lower back pain.

Reforms Stage – In this step, the student is gradually taught to think briefly before performing any given action to see how it can be carried out with the minimum amount of tension.

For instance, learning to exert minimum tension on the neck or back muscles can actually lead to a massive reduction in the lower back pain.

The Related Impact

In addition to directly addressing the main causes of lower back pain, the Alexander Technique also facilitates rehabilitation after surgery. It improves the overall management of pain and provides coping skills for chronic illness and disabilities.

A simple and practical method, it improves the ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. It can be applied to a vast range of bodily movements, including sitting, lying down, standing, walking, lifting and the like.

Usually learnt in individual lessons through instructions with a teacher using specialized hand contact and verbal directions, the Alexander Technique primarily leads to an increased bodily awareness, enabling the student to:

  • Be poised without being stiff
  • Move gracefully without much effort
  • Be alert and focused with lesser strain
  • Breathe and speak easily
  • Be calm and confident