Minnesota Center for the
Alexander Technique (MinnCAT)
Many health problems are caused or worsened by neuromuscular patterns of strain which go unnoticed by ourselves and our health professionals. Distinctly different from overuse, misuse pertains to technique, defined as "way of working" — or HOW we do WHAT we do. The Alexander Technique is an excellent tool to understand any health problem — it helps a person look at a whole situation in a clear way free of prejudice or fixed ideas. Additionally, it helps find general, root causes to problems and apply effective self-care. Even in medical situations not attributable to misuse there can be compensentory patterns of tension and strain whereby a person can enjoy a degree of control and ease using the Alexander Technique.
"The Alexander Technique causes no pain or strain"
— Dr. Lynne Shuster, Director, Mayo Clinic Office of Women's Health (on the integration of the Alexander Technique into the Mayo Clinic)
Aesthetic and truly integrative in its approach, F.M. Alexander (1869-1955) developed a blend of what looks like a combination of education, physical therapy, psychology, counseling, and scientific inquiry. He founded what may be considered the original mind/body approach in the Western world.
The Alexander Technique is an educational student/teacher relationship. The goal is to improve skill, poise, and a conscious approach to every aspect of living. If learned adequately, the result is often a therapeutic and permanent solution to musculoskeletal pain or mental discomfort.
Contrary to many forms of prevention or rehabilitation, with the Alexander Technique there are NO exercises ! There is a saying that "a crooked man walks a crooked mile". This means that if one does repetitive exercise with faulty habit patterns, the "exercise" may do more harm than good. The Alexander Technique takes an approach unlike any other: If you stop the wrong thing, the right thing does itself. This work is about peeling away the unnecessary, interfering things we do. As general coordination improves, specific discomforts dissipate. For further explanation, see my article in Minnesota Healthcare News
The Alexander Technique does not diagnose and does not treat conditions by direct means. However, individuals DO seek out the Alexander Technique to solve problems related to:
• Nervous disorders
• Repetitive strain
• Panic attacks
• Postnatal depression
• Respiratory disorders
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Sports injuries
• Back pain
• Neck pain
• Irritable bowl syndrome
• Mood swings
• Muscular tension
Individuals should discuss with their physicians how the Alexander Technique can help. The Alexander Teacher can provide more information to both physician and patient.
"The Alexander Technique, in giving prolonged relief, appears to be a major public health advance."
George E Ehrlich, MD, MACR, FACP
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
"The Alexander Technique stresses unification in an era of greater and greater medical specialization. Its educational system teaches people how to best use their bodies in ordinary action to avoid or reduce unnecessary stress and pain. It enables clients to get better faster and stay better longer. This is undoubtedly the best way to take care of the back and alleviate back pain."
Jack Stern, MD, PhD, Neurosurgical Group of Westchester, White Plains, NY
"I found the Technique to be so beneficial in my condition that I have been referring patients in certain situations for Alexander lessons over the last several years."
Howard L. Rosner, MD Director, Pain Management , The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center
"Habitual patterns of scrunched and tense use of the body are so engrained in our lives that the concept may seem extraordinary that unlearning these patterns can actually relieve pain and discomfort--but lessons in the Alexander Technique not only succeed for many people, they also allow a welcome sense of new ease in performance of all physical activities, e.g., playing a sport, using a computer keyboard, or playing a musical instrument. Research in which I have been involved has also shown enhanced strength of the muscles of breathing after a course of lessons."
John H.M. Austin, MD, Professor Emeritus of Radiology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York , NY
"I think I have given my patients something almost as good as magic. I have taught them what to do and not do when their backs give them trouble, and how to reduce unnecessary stress and pain. As a result, they no longer have to feel afraid and helpless when back pain occurs. Many consider themselves cured because they have been able to return to an active, normal lifestyle."
Deborah Caplan, PT, certified Alexander Technique teacher and author of Back Trouble, New York, NY
"Not only do I see the therapeutic benefits of this work with various patient problems, but it has helped me deal effectively with my own adverse muscular tension. I continue to experience a newfound freedom of movement in my own body that I believe is making me a more effective therapist."
Howard W. Makofsky, MS, OCS, Mastic Beach, NY
"In addition to its physiologic and musculoskeletal benefits, the Alexander Technique is extremely helpful in relieving the psychological states of depression and anxiety that so often accompany chronic pain and disease. It is my belief, based on professional experience, that the Alexander Technique should be part of all preventative health and education programs. It is as basic as good nutrition."
Jill Sanders, DO, New York, NY
"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
"I recommend people to the Alexander Technique who have not improved with traditional rehabilitative therapies. Part of their pain may be due to posture and the improper use of their bodies. Many people who have neck or back pain and have gone through heat, ultrasound and massage with no relief can be helped by learning the Alexander Technique. It definitely works. Nothing works for everyone. As one well-versed in using physical therapy and biofeedback, I know how valuable this technique is. I highly recommend it."
Barry M. Scheinfeld, MD, Specialist in Rehabilitation Medicine and Pain Management, Community General Hospital, Harris, NY
"The Alexander Technique has been very helpful in identifying the postural and breathing habits that contribute to my fatigue and muscle soreness. I found it a good value: cost effective, making me less dependent on chiropractors and more comfortable at work."
Douglas J. Bush, DMD, Chester, NJ
"When, in spite of my instruction, a patient is having difficulty understanding how to make changes in habitual movement patterns or has a profession with particular physical demands, I typically suggest the Alexander Technique. I have found it very helpful for patients who have low body awareness or who have trouble relaxing. Improvement in these areas facilitates many physical therapy modalities, especially cervical spine joint mobilization."
Gail King, PT, MS, Backtec Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy, New York, NY
"I fell and suffered a compression fracture of the back. Upon recommendation of a fellow therapist, I started treatment in the Alexander Technique. I have noticed not only a steady reduction of pain, but improvement in my general flexibility, balance and bearing. I use the Technique in conjunction with other physical exercise, and have found no contraindications."
Jean P. Binnie, MA, MS, NCPsychA, Hamptons Counseling Center, Hampton Bays, NY
(this list is a reprint from: www.amsatonline.org/faq/what-have-doctors-said-about-alexander-technique)