Alexander Technique and Physical Therapy
The Alexander Technique


By Idelle Packer, MS, PT, CTAT
certified teacher of the Alexander Technique

Everyday movement habits such as slumping or forcing the arch in the back in an effort to be more erect produce compressive forces and muscular imbalance that can precipitate such maladies as back pain, disc problems, sciatica, and osteoporotic deterioration. Without intervention, the downward force of gravity and the ongoing force of habit perpetuate postural misuse and painful muscular tension.

The Alexander Technique is a highly effective non-invasive antidote to this dilemma. It can alleviate pain and prevent further deterioration when the postural component is the cause or exacerbating factor in an existing condition. Reversing the compensatory effects of spinal compression, students of the Alexander Technique acquire fluid integrated movement mechanics, improved breathing coordination, vocal clarity, heightened proprioception and balance, as well as greater functional strength and mobility.

The Technique is accomplished without prescribed exercise. The Technique focuses instead on the student's ability to identify, alter and prevent harmful tension, movement, and breathing patterns in any activity, with application to activities as varied as vacuuming, sitting at the computer, singing, riding a horse, or weight training. When the operational principles of the Alexander Technique are applied to general fitness or therapeutic exercise, attention is focused on the breathing coordination, proper use of the head, neck and back, as well as the targeted muscle or body area.

The Alexander Technique empowers people with skills they can use to make effective changes in their individual movement patterns, preventing harmful muscular tension that interferes with optimal function. The knowledge gained is applicable even to the most complex, specialized tasks, from sitting at a computer to playing an instrument to performing a home exercise routine. In addition, students of the Technique learn to recognize a variety of sources triggering bodily tension. Thus, harmful responses to stress such as tightening the muscles of the head-neck-back or straining the vocal mechanism in speech can be prevented before they cause pain or disease. Copyright, Idelle Packer 1999


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"The Alexander Technique makes sense in that appropriate use of the body will lead to reduction of various musculoskeletal
disorders and remediate others which are established. No equipment is needed, just the skill and training of the teacher. This technique
is very worthwhile as a primary preventative therapy. It is especially useful when posture is a key factor in back injuries while lifting
and for workers who perform repetitive tasks while sitting."
Robert D. Greene, MD, Emergency Department, Norwalk Hospital Norwalk, CT