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New Study Explores Why Alexander Technique Improves Movement & Balance

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

A new research paper published in Kinesiology Review explores why the Alexander Technique has positive effects on movement and balance.

Highlights include:

The most common reasons people study AT are to overcome problems with chronic musculoskeletal pain and to improve posture, skilled performance or general well-being. A distinguishing feature of AT is that sessions do not focus on perfecting particular movements, practicing balance tasks or imposing a specific postural alignment. AT differs markedly from popular approaches to posture that emphasize effortfully lifting the head, straightening the back, squeezing together the shoulder blades and tensing the abdominal muscles. Instead, pupils learning AT practice noticing and altering counterproductive muscle tensions and automatic reactions that occur at rest, in anticipation of action and during movement. The practice of attending to posture and reaction before and during activity is thought to lead to global improvement in motor behavior, reduction in anxiety and pain and increased self-efficiency.

The Alexander Technique makes postural tone more adaptable and less rigid. AT redistributes postural tone from the bigger, superficial muscles of the body (which are designed to facilitate movement of the body parts in space) to the deeper muscles closer to the bones that facilitate postural integrity (uprightness to the best of one’s capacity) in relationship to the pull of earth’s gravity. Alexander-trained participants in the study demonstrated smoother weight transfer,

less force and joint compression when rising from a chair, and when walking, there was reduced lateral motion.

A number of studies have found improvements in balance after AT instruction. Functional reach increased after AT lessons in a controlled study of older adults and preliminary work suggests that AT classes also improve standard clinical balance measures in people with Parkinson’s disease.

The Alexander Technique improves accuracy, completeness, and detail of your body schema (the unconscious internal representation of your own body). Studies have shown that chronic pain literally makes the body part affected feel smaller and courser It could be that this fuzzing of the body schema restricts blood flow to tissues and nerves, as well as contraction of tissue that literally squeezes the nerves causing a more intractable pain cycle. A more accurate body schema can create more effective movement strategies.

If you’d like to explore the Alexander Technique to help improve your own movement and balance, try an Intro Series of Lessons or my monthly group class on Saturdays at 11 am. Email me or call 818-515-9290 for more details!!

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