After more than a century of compelling anecdotal evidence about the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique for back pain, as well as a number of small studies showing remarkable results, a major study recently published in the British Medical Journal has concluded that lessons in the Alexander Technique lead to a dramatic reduction in both pain and disability.
The back pain study published in the British Medical Journal: a synopsis
Purpose of study
To evaluate the effectiveness of the Alexander Technique for chronic low back pain.
The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.
Type of study
The study took the form of a randomised, controlled trial of 579 patients with chronic or recurrent non-specific low back pain, comparing usual GP care with lessons in the Alexander Technique.
Compared with usual GP care, trial participants who undertook 24 Alexander Technique lessons with a registered teacher experienced significantly less pain and disability. A year after lessons were completed:
Trial participants who undertook 24 lessons had an average of 3 days of pain per month compared with 21 days of pain in the control group.
Trial participants who undertook 6 lessons had an average of 10 days of pain per month compared with 21 days of pain in the control group.
Improvements in capacity (measured as the ability to carry out daily tasks without being limited by back pain) were, if anything, even more impressive than the general reduction in pain. Many other 'quality of life' benefits were reported and no adverse events were reported.
Lessons in the Alexander Technique led to considerably and enduringly reduced pain and incapacity and improved quality of life in individuals with chronic or recurrent back pain.
The findings were published in the British Medical Journal, August 2008 (Little P, et al. Randomised controlled trial of Alexander Technique lessons, exercise and massage for chronic and recurrent back pain). The paper is available online here.
Back pain study
There is strong evidence for impressive long-term benefits from Alexander Technique lessons for people with chronic low back pain in a major study published in the British Medical Journal.
Patients who undertook 24 lessons had a remarkable 86% reduction in days of pain each month, even 12 months after lessons were completed.
6 lessons reduced the number of days of pain by more than 50%.