Lessons in posture exercises known as “the Alexander technique,” may help people develop good stationary posture and body movement skills—and it can lead to lasting benefits for back pain sufferers.

The Alexander technique is different from therapies such as spinal manipulation, massage, and conventional physical therapy. Its teachers provide continuous assessment of a person’s patterns of muscle use and tension, particularly in the head, neck, and spinal regions, and give feedback via verbal instruction and hand contact to develop proper muscle use and encourage release of muscle tension.

“Previous studies have shown that therapeutic massage is effective for relieving chronic back pain over the short term, but our findings suggest that these benefits are lost over time, perhaps because massage provides no long-term educational element,” said lead study author Dr. Paul Little at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. “In contrast, lessons in the Alexander technique lead to the development of increased patient awareness and long-term posture and body movement habits that provide long term improvement in back pain.”

Healthnotes Newswire, March 12, 2009