Alexander Technique best treatment for back pain says new study
The Alexander Technique may be the most effective method for treating back pain, according to a new study.
Seven in ten of us have experienced back pain at some point in our lives and according to statistics it is one of the most common causes of sick days in the western world.
Research from the British Chiropractic Association revealed that back pain is on the increase, rising from 47% of people ‘currently suffering’ in 2007 to 52% in 2008.
However, a new study published in the British Medical Journal last week revealed the results of a large-scale trial on the effects that the Alexander Technique have on back pain.
The trial showed that the series of gentle exercises that the Alexander Technique employs can alleviate back pain by limiting muscle spasm, strengthening postural muscles, improving coordination and flexibility and decompressing the spine.
Patients were eith given normal care, massage, six lessons of Alexander Technique, or 24 lessons. Half the patients in each group were also given an exercise programme consisting of brisk walking for 30 minutes every day, five days a week.
Massage did relieve the pain for
the first three months, but the benefit did not last. However, patients who
had been trained in the Alexander technique reported less pain and an
ability to do more by the end of the year. Those who had had six
lessons and stuck to an exercise routine did almost as well as those
who had 24 lessons.
Elizabeth Dodgson, an AT teacher in west London, and a trustee of the charity BackCare commented on the technique saying: ‘The goal of AT is to set up the right circumstances under which the body can function as it was meant to,’ she explains. ‘You’re learning the tools you need to use your body more effectively and efficiently and getting to know your patterns and habits, so you can let go of the bad ones. The hands-on element is important because it helps you feel how a movement can be different. That’s difficult to do from a book.’