Alexander Technique and Physical Therapy
The Alexander Technique


Improving Posture, Mobility, and Safety
By Idelle Packer, MS, PT, CTAT
certified teacher of the Alexander Technique

       Osteoporosis results when the natural balance of removal and replacement of bone in our bodies is altered, causing less bone to be replaced than is removed. The progressive loss in bone mass will occur unnoticed unless diagnosed through bone density tests or discovered after suffering a fracture, typically hip, spine or wrist. Too often these fractures result in further chronic pain, postural deformity, and disability. What can the senior population, typically at risk for osteoporosis, do to avoid these consequences?

       First, I advise a discussion with a doctor to determine if the person with concern about osteoporosis is a candidate for a bone scan, dietary changes, and/or medications. Next, I discuss the value of participating in activities that will promote bone density and avoid postural deterioration. One clear option is to seek out the expertise of a teacher of the Alexander Technique.

       The Alexander Technique is an essential component of a program for people with osteoporosis. A teacher of the Alexander Technique can identify poor postural and movement habits that place unnecessary pressure on the thoracic and lumbar spine. The student learns to recognize these patterns and develops skills that avoid and replace these postural faults. As upright posture improves, constriction decreases along the spine and at the hip, knee, and ankle joints. The torso's weight is better distributed through the pelvis to the long bones of the legs. Balance and gait improve. When standing and walking are easier to perform, it will be easier to participate in more weight-bearing activities crucial to stimulating bone density such as walking, hiking, dancing, or Tai Chi.

       The skills learned in Alexander Technique lessons offer a safe approach to increasing activity. As the Alexander Technique is applied to all activities from walking to moving in and out of chairs to lifting, bending, reaching, lying down and getting up, the risk of falling decreases. For people with osteoporosis, fear of falling may be a major factor limiting activity, which further limits potential for building bone density through exercise. In my experience, even a person frail with severe osteoporosis is able to learn safe ways to break this cycle. By working with a teacher of the Alexander Technique, the person with osteoporosis gains posture, balance, stamina, comfort and ease in weight-bearing activity.

       For the person with mild osteopenia (mild bone loss), the education provided by a study of the Alexander Technique is the perfect antidote to the postural deterioration that typifies later stages of the disease. The cumulative stress on the spine from postural misuse in daily activity can be reversed. From walking and other exercise forms to daily tasks such as computer work or gardening, the Alexander Technique informs every aspect of an active lifestyle, while promoting a healthy spine and healthy bones.

© 2003, Idelle Packer
This article appeared in
Rapid River Magazine, volume six, number 5, January 2003.

"There is hardly a bodily function, from digestion to respiration, which cannot be gravely interfered with by faulty bodily coordination."
F.M. Alexander from The Essential Writings of F. Matthias Alexander:
The Alexander Technique - (Carol Publishing Group, 1990) edited by Edward Maisel