ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE

(Investigator 148, 2013 January)


History

Reputed to be from an affluent family, Frederick Mathias Alexander (1869-1955), was born in Wynyard, Tasmania. He became a successful Shakespearean recitalist but had to retire from the stage after developing vocal problems. Although he consulted with numerous physicians and tried several medications, none were effective. Over a period of ten years, Alexander studied the way he used his body and discovered that he was creating a pattern of tension in the neck area and upper body. Rightly or wrongly, it was to this that he attributed his vocal problems and claimed that correcting his posture is what cured him.


Theory

That muscular habits are acquired through every day activities such as work positions including sitting or standing for long periods. Unusual or unaccustomed exercise and so on, creates physical tension causing pain. In some cases, this can manifest itself in musculo-skeletal problems. The technique is a "body / mind" method in which proponents teach that maintaining alignment of the head, neck and back leads to better physical functioning.


Practice

The manual application of gentle pressure on various parts of the body and learning key phrases to remind one of the correct postures to be adopted.


Assessment

Vocalists often strain their voice from over-use or improper technique. The idea that posture affects voice is tenuous, to say the least. However, physical stress, strain and muscular pain are often the result of bad postural habits for which our bodies were not designed.

Although the Alexander Technique does not treat specific symptoms, and there do not appear to have been any scientific studies, learning to sit, stand and perform other physical postures to prevent muscular tension may be beneficial.


    From: Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing, Australian Skeptics


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