New research from the British Medical Journal suggests that a combination of Alexander technique lessons and exercise offers an effective long-term treatment for chronic back pain.
Back pain causes more disability than almost any other condition in Western societies. Previous research has shown the short-term advantages that the Alexander technique and massage may have in relieving back pain, but little is known about the long-term outcomes.
Researchers at the University of Southampton and the University of Bristol compared the effectiveness of massage, exercise and the Alexander technique over a one-year period.
More than 570 patients with chronic or recurrent back pain from 64 general practices in the south and west of England were recruited for the study.
Patients randomly received normal care, massage, or Alexander technique lessons. Half of the patients also went on a brisk walk for 30 minutes per day five times a week.
The results showed that exercise along with lessons in the Alexander technique reduced pain and improved functioning, whereas massage offered little benefit. Patients who received Alexander technique lessons also reported an improved quality of life.
The researchers said: "Massage is helpful in the short term... [but] the Alexander technique retained effectiveness at one year."
"Alexander technique is one of several that retrain the posture to avoid repetitive use injury to the spine and associated muscles. I use a veriety of techniques including Positional Release Therapy and aspects of Structural Integration. Magnetic Therapy is also helpful to reduce swelling, which speeds up healing. It is important that the client participates in the process learning what the cause of the pain is from a mechanical standpoint and how to correct the mechanical deficit." - Hans Albert Quistorff, LMP, Antalgic Posture Pain Specialist