What is the Alexander Technique Useful For?
A great many people are drawn to the Alexander Technique because of it’s long-standing reputation for helping people alleviate a wide variety of painful conditions, including back pain, sore necks and shoulders and carpal tunnel syndrome. To the extent that pain is caused by postural or movement mis-use patterns (see Key Alexander Technique Concepts), the Technique is often an effective solution.
The Technique addresses the student’s own patterns of posture and movement. And so it differs in a fundamental way from other common approaches to pain relief, such as chiropractic adjustments, surgery, drugs or the use of ergonomically designed furniture. All of these may be very helpful, even necessary, at times, but unless a person’s underlying mis-use patterns are addressed, the original pain issues are likely to reappear.
It is important for a perspective student to understand that not all pain is due to mis-use and that Alexander Technique teachers are not therapists, and do not diagnose disease. Anyone who has been in pain for an extended period of time should seek medical advice before taking Alexander lessons.
The Alexander Technique’s helpfulness in alleviating backpain, Parkinson’s disease, and repetitive strain injury has been confirmed by several recent scientific and medical studies (see Alexander Techniques Scientific Research and Medical Endorsements) It has also been shown to improve respiratory functioning.
Performers and Athletes
These people constitute the second major group of Alexander Technique students. The quality of their work is directly affected by the quality of their use of themselves in ways that are not usually the case in other occupations. For example, an office worker can usually write an excellent report even if he or she is suffering from severe back pain. But a violinist’s stiff shoulder will have an immediate and harmful effect on the quality of sound she produces. A hockey player’s stiff neck will compromise his balance and make him a less effective player.
Students of the Martial Arts and Yoga
Some students of the martial arts and yoga have found that Alexander Technique lessons enhance their ability to learn and apply these processes more effectively and with less risk of injury. As with performers and athletes, lessons in the Technique can help the student more fully and freely express their skills by helping them learn to release habitual posture and movement restrictions.
People Seeking Increased Self-Awareness
There have always been people who have studied the Alexander Technique as a way of learning more about themselves, and how they function. Lessons can be a very powerful way of learning the truth about oneself, and how one really functions in the world. A few students have seen parallels between the Technique and the concepts of Zen Buddhism, particularly in their common emphasis on peeling the unnecessary away so that the underlying good can emerge.