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Named for its developer, Frederick Alexander, the Alexander Technique is an alternative medical therapy based on the concept that many health problems stem from poor posture.

It is classified by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health as a psychological and physical complementary approach to health when combined with mainstream treatments and alternative therapy instead of conventional treatments.

The technique was developed by Alexander in the 1890s, initially to address his own loss of voice while speaking publicly. He considered it successful.

Proponents of the Alexander Technique believe that it can be helpful in various health conditions. The National Health Service of the United Kingdom found that evidence supported its usefulness in alleviating symptoms of Parkison disease and chronic back and neck pain but that there was limited evidence of its effectiveness in other types of chronic pain, stammering, and balance skills in older adults—no good evidence for its use in asthma, headaches, osteoarthritis, difficulty sleeping, and stress. However, the technique is sometimes used to assist in treating these disorders.

Similarly, the Australian Department of Health determined that the Alexander Technique may improve short-term pain and disability in people with low back pain but that longer-term effects are uncertain. For other conditions, they found insufficient evidence for its use.

The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique suggests that the technique can be helpful for those who suffer from repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome, those who suffer from backache or stiff neck and shoulders, those who are uncomfortable when sitting at the computer for long periods, and singers, musicians, actors, dancers, or athletes who feel they are not performing at their full potential.

Practitioners hold that conditions, such as backaches and other forms of long-term pain, are often the result of the misuse of the body over a long period, such as moving inefficiently and standing or sitting with the body's weight unevenly distributed. The central point of the technique is to help clients unlearn these bad habits to achieve a balanced, naturally aligned body.

Generally, the Alexander Technique is taught by a qualified instructor in one-on-one lessons that take place in a studio, clinic, or home, and last from thirty to forty-five minutes. Loose, comfortable clothing is recommended for better movement.

Instructors observe the client's movements, then teach them how to move, stand, sit, and lie down with better balance and less strain. They may use their hands to guide clients in their movements, focusing on releasing muscle tension and maintaining a better relationship between the head, neck, and spine.

Twenty or more weekly lessons are usually required. Clients may experience improvement reasonably soon after beginning classes. Still, additional classes are necessary to put what they have learned into practice and to experience the full benefits of the techniques. The goal is for the client to understand the principles involved so that they can be applied to everyday life on an ongoing basis.

Although professional organizations offer courses for those interested in learning to teach the Alexander Technique, along with memberships upon successful completion, the application of the technique is not covered by any laws or regulations in most countries.



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