Alexander Technique Medicine

Alexander became well known among the intellectual, artistic, and medical communities in London, England during the first half of the twentieth century. Among Alexander’s supporters were John Dewey, Aldous Huxley, Bernard Shaw, and renowned scientists Raymond Dart, G.E. Coghill, Charles Sherrington, and Nikolaas Tinbergen.

Researchers continue to study the effects and applications of the technique in the fields of education, preventive medicine, and rehabilitation. The Alexander technique has proven an effective treatment for reducing stress, for improving posture and performance in schoolchildren, for relieving chronic pain, and for improving psychological functioning.

The technique has been found to be as effective as beta-blocker medications in controlling stress responses in professional musicians, to enhance respiratory function in normal adults, and to mediate the effects of scoliosis in adolescents and adults.

Because the Alexander technique helps students improve overall functioning, both mental and physical, it offers a wide range of benefits. Nikolaas Tinbergen, in his 1973 Nobel lecture, hailed the

‘‘striking improvements in such diverse things as high blood pressure, breathing, depth of sleep, overall cheerfulness and mental alertness, resilience against outside pressures, and the refined skill of playing a musical instrument.’’

He went on to quote a list of other conditions helped by the Alexander technique:

‘‘rheumatism, including various forms of arthritis, then respiratory troubles, and even potentially lethal asthma; following in their wake, circulation defects, which may lead to high blood pressure and also to some dangerous heart conditions; gastrointestinal disorders of many types, various gynecological conditions, sexual failures, migraines and depressive states.’’

Literature in the 1980s and 1990s went on to include improvements in back pain, chronic pain, postural problems, repetitive strain injury, benefits during pregnancy and childbirth, help in applying physical therapy and rehabilitative exercises, improvements in strain caused by computer use, improvements in the posture and performance of school children, and improvements in vocal and dramatic performance among the benefits offered by the technique.