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Learning the Alexander Technique for Pain Management

Image from page 86 of "Personal hygiene and home nursing : a practical text for girls and women for home and school use" (1919) by Internet Archive Book Images licensed under Creative commons 7

People often come to the Alexander Technique after trying many other things for pain-management and improvement after injury.

 

While the Technique is not a medical modality, there are real health and pain management benefits to learning to move, sit stand and carry out actions in an efficient way. The Alexander technique is designed to help you change habits of coordination that have developed over time in response to injury or pain, or for other reasons, and can lead to long term pain relief1.

We  can consider two aspects to pain in practical terms:

British Medical Journal cover

 

1. The pain itself - pain may be caused by tissue damage, disease or physical pressure.

Typically we think of pain as a signal coming from a damaged or stressed part of the body. However, often pain in a limb may be caused by pressure or damage somewhere else in the body, this is called “referred pain”. Chronic (ongoing) pain conditions may also arise from the central nervous system (the brain) without any obvious physical cause.

The Technique assists you to move more freely in accordance with your body structure and design. Improvement in coordination results in improvements in posture, reduction in pressure and tension and more efficiency and accuracy in movement. This may be associated with reduction or elimination of pain, depending on the cause of the pain.

Recent research published in the British Medical Journal into chronic low-back pain has demonstrated long-term effectiveness of the Alexander Technique compared to other approaches1.

2. The response or fear reaction a person makes to pain and injury in their activities.

Everyone reacts to the experience of pain in one way of another. Usually this involves an increased attention to the painful area, and a corresponding decrease in awareness of the rest of the body. This goes with increased muscular tension and reduction of movement, not just in the painful area, but more generally throughout the body as well. This stiffness, or lack of movement, is often responsible for keeping a person in pain unnecessarily.

The Alexander technique teaches the person how to move well and avoid unnecessary pressure and stiffness, even when pain is experienced. We call this changing the general conditions of coordination that are associated with the pain.

Changes in perception and body-awareness can have positive effects on the response to pain, reducing the unnecessary and harmful tension, and reducing the suffering of having a painful condition. In other words, it may be possible to stay free, even when in pain. Current research is beginning to elicit how this works3.

 

 I was in a desperate situation trying to break free of constant spinal discomfort. Alexander gave me the skills to manage my condition very effectively… It is very real but takes time.

David Starr, Sydney NSW

Click here for a list of current classes and events related to Posture and Pain

 

Call Training Director Greg Holdaway on 0408 257174 if you wish to discuss your situation

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References (.pdf file download)

1: Randomised controlled trial of Alexander Technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain. Little et.al. British Medical Journal 2008
2 :Alexander Technique Lessons or Acupuncture Sessions for Persons With Chronic Neck Pain: A Randomized Trial. Hugh MacPherson et. al. Annuals of Internal Medicine 2015
3: Self-reported interoceptive awareness in primary care patients with past or current low back pain. Mehling et.al. Journal of Pain Research 2013


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