Clinical Trials

Clinical trials measure the effects (therapeutic and/or side effects) of an intervention such as Alexander technique1Alexander technique lessons do not typically target specific local problems.  Instead the teacher works with the student to overcome whole body postural habits based on a larger concept of good postural coordination.  Clinical benefits may therefore be the result of overall improvement of postural coordination.Up to date lists of clinical trials can be fairly easily found using search engines such as Google Scholar or PubMed. The two links below give the results for the keyword combination: “‘Alexander technique’ clinical”  (other keyword combinations are also possible of course):

Google Scholar search of “alexander technique” clinical
PubMed search of “alexander technique” clinical

A systematic review by Woodman et. al. (2012) published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice of clinical trials concludes the following:

Strong evidence exists for the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons for chronic back pain and moderate evidence in Parkinson’s-associated disability. Preliminary evidence suggests that Alexander Technique lessons may lead to improvements in balance skills in the elderly, in general chronic pain, posture, respiratory function and stuttering, but there is insufficient evidence to support recommendations in these areas.

This review mentions in particular two randomized control trials. The first, published in the British Journal of Medicine on the effect of lessons on back pain (Little, 2008), studied 579 patients split into three randomized groups. It concludes:

One to one lessons in the Alexander technique from registered teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain.

The second, from Stallibrass et. al published in Clinical Rehabilitation (2002), studied the effects of as series of lessons on 93 patients with Parkinsons disease split into three groups.  It concludes:

There is evidence that lessons in the Alexander Technique are likely to lead to sustained benefit for people with Parkinson’s disease.

In 2015 one notable clinical trial demonstrated the effectiveness of AT on reducing both chronic neck pain and the use of painkillers for neck pain (MacPherson, 2015)

A full list of published research with short summaries is also given on the STAT and AmSAT Alexander technique sites:

www.alexandertechnique.co.uk/alexander-technique/research
www.amsatonline.org/research

The wikipedia article on Alexander technique2We have a number of issues with the rest of the Wikipedia description of Alexander technique.  often has an objective overview of clinical research including references to overviews by insurance and government bodies.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Technique

To summarize, the current clinical research on Alexander technique has yielded some positive results, including one particularly strong study of chronic lower back pain. However much more research needs to be done before AT can be proven to be therapeutic for wide range of problems.

References:

Woodman, J.P., Moore, N.R. (2012). Evidence for the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons in medical and health-related conditions: a systematic review. ) International Journal of Clinical Practice.  66, 98-112. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2011.02817.x

Little, P., Lewith, G., Webley, F., et al. (2008) Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain. BMJ.  337, a884-a884. doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a884

Stallibrass, C., Sissons, P., Chalmers, C. (2002). Randomized controlled trial of the Alexander Technique for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. Clin Rehabil. 6(7), 695-708. doi:10.1191/0269215502cr544oa

MacPherson, H., Tilbrook, H., Richmond, S., et al. (2015). Alexander Technique Lessons or Acupuncture Sessions for Persons With Chronic Neck Pain. Ann Intern Med. 163(9), 653. doi:10.7326/m15-0667