Alexander Technique and Physical Therapy
The Alexander Technique


The Alexander Technique for Every Day Activities
Idelle Packer, M.S., P.T., C.T.A.T.

    The Alexander Technique is the practical method that its founder, F. Matthias Alexander, developed to reverse compensatory muscular imbalance, otherwise known as a slump! Sometimes the imbalance is felt as tension or pain from overarching the spine. The Alexander Technique teaches poise and ease of movement. Practicing involves no prescribed exercises. The operational principles are "practiced" during all of life's activities, whether driving a car, rising from a chair, reaching for food in the refrigerator, swinging a golf club or playing the piano.

    The learning process begins with observation. The student executes familiar activities such as sitting, standing, walking, bending, lunging, squatting, reaching, and lying down. At the same time, with light touch and verbal cues, the teacher encourages cognitive and experiential awareness. Habitual tension patterns and harmful postural tendencies are replaced with muscular ease and an effortless upright spine.

    The role of the teacher is essential in the initial stages of the learning process when the student lacks the subtle observation skills necessary to identify harmful habits of muscular tension or movement coordination.

    These patterns begin to change as the student learns to inhibit, or consciously quiet muscular tension. Then, with intent, the student learns to project the idea of a preferred relationship of head, neck, and torso prior to and during activity. This thought process, referred to as "directing" interrupts the habitual muscular response of excess tightening and, instead, engages the appropriate muscular response.

    Thus, harmful habitual responses are inhibited and preferable patterns engaged through conscious thought. In each lesson these new patterns are reinforced through verbal instructions and feedback, and the student becomes more adept at using the Alexander Technique thought process to effect change in muscle tension, movement mechanics, and breathing coordination.

    The number of lessons to achieve satisfactory results will vary from ten to thirty according to the goals and initial physical condition of the student. With continued practice of the Technique in daily activity, the student attains greater kinesthetic awareness and skill, approaching even the most novel and specialized tasks with safety and intelligence. Copyright Idelle Packer, 1999

Packer, I. (1999). Practices and treatments: alexander technique. In C.C.Clark (Ed.), Encyclopedia of complementary health practice (pp. 291-294). New York: Springer Publishing

Where Do You Stand on Posture?
Non-Doing in Action

"Change involves carrying out an activity against the habit of life."
F.M. Alexander from The Essential Writings of F. Matthias Alexander: The Alexander Technique
(Carol Publishing Group, 1990) edited by Edward Maisel