Since the earliest days of the Alexander Technique, teachers and students have known from their own experiences that back pain responds very well to private lessons in the Technique. Constant back pain was in fact one of the main reasons I myself began taking lessons. The relief of that pain was the main reason I continued lessons, and why I decided to become a teacher. Yet in all these years of anecdotes, the hard evidence to prove this claim was nowhere to be found.
All that changed yesterday with the publication in the British Medical Journal of “Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain“. This 5-year study of 579 patients revealed what AT teachers have suspected all along: Alexander Technique is more effective in relieving back pain than massage or exercise, the current standard medical treatments.
A series of 24 lessons in the Alexander technique taught by registered teachers provides long term benefits for patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain. Both six lessons in the Alexander technique and general practitioner prescription for aerobic exercise with structured behavioural counselling by a practice nurse were helpful in the long term; classic massage provided short term benefit. Six lessons in the Alexander technique followed by exercise prescription was almost as effective as 24 lessons.