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The Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is a one-on-one workshop designed to improve common movements, like standing, sitting, lifting objects, breathing, and speaking.

By Zeel Editorial Staff, Last updated: August 15, 2012

The Alexander Technique is not an actual exercise regimen. Rather, it’s a one-on-one workshop designed to improve common movements, like standing, sitting, lifting objects, breathing and speaking.

The Alexander Technique was developed in the late 1800s by F. Matthias Alexander, a Shakespearean actor who was searching for a way to project his voice more strongly. By adjusting the positioning of his body, Alexander discovered a solution, along with a new system he dubbed the Alexander Technique.

Benefits of the Alexander Technique: Instructors use verbal cues and gentle physical adjustments, of the head and spine, prompting their clients to re-learn to move, in a way that lessens stress on the bones, joints, and muscles. Students might asked to, for example, sit in a chair, and be guided the entire time by the instructor’s touch. At least 20 workshops are needed to see a good result, and improvements are gradual.

Who the Alexander Technique is best for: Perpetual high heel wearers can rest easy knowing the Alexander Technique may help to reverse years of damage brought on by stilettos. British scientific studies have shown that the Alexander Technique can improve posture, minimize neck and back pain, and treat arthritis, migraines, hypertension, sciatica, insomnia and even mild depression.

The Alexander Technique is one of the best ways to alleviate lower back pain. Anyone experiencing these ailments—or who wants to simply stand straighter—may benefit from Alexander training.

Getting ready: Wear loose, comfortable clothing that allow the instructor to assess and adjust the spine, head and neck. Women should wear pants or shorts (not skirts or dresses). Shoes are typically not required while the Alexander Technique is performed.

Calories burned: The Alexander Technique is not meant to be used for fat burning. It burns a negligible number of calories.

Celebrity Devotees

Victoria Beckham tested out the Alexander Technique with the hopes of strengthening her core and re-aligning her spine. The decision came after years of strutting around town in high-heel shoes caused her bones, joints and ligaments to become misaligned.

ABC News has reported that former Beatle front man Paul McCartney also used the Alexander Technique, though the singer-songwriter has not confirmed this.

Risks

The Alexander Technique may improve common muscle strains and injuries; it should not to exacerbate them. Alexander lessons should not result in any further injury to the body.

Who shouldn't do it: There are no known contraindications to the Alexander Technique. Alexander clients with anemia, low blood pressure or problems with balance should let their instructor know before the start of the lesson, as this information may affect the types of techniques used during a session. (Lying down may not be recommended, for example.)

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