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What’s causing most back pain? How can Alexander Technique help?

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

There's no need to suffer, learning how to move well really does relieve pain.

Still not sure why you have back pain even though you’ve seen your doctor, had investigations and tried a number of treatments?

Back pain can arise for a variety of reasons:

· Fractured vertebrae

· Injury

· Disk issues

· Sciatica or other nerve problems such as the femoral nerve

· Stress and anxiety

· And sometimes for no “known” reason

As the NHS website explains the majority of back pain isn’t serious;

“Often it's not possible to identify the cause of back pain. Doctors call this non-specific back pain.

”Sometimes the pain may be a result of an injury such as a sprain or strain, but often it occurs for no apparent reason. It's very rarely caused by anything serious.”

But to a back pain sufferer it feels extremely serious and the pain can be debilitating so it is hard to come to terms with the fact that it may not be a serious medical condition in need of intervention. The pain can and often does adversely affect every aspect of life including mental and emotional wellbeing.

The majority of back pain conditions are caused by excessive muscle tension interfering with the body's natural way of moving which can cause compression in the spine and joints including disk problems and nerve conditions such as sciatica as well as other joint pain. This muscular condition is described in detail by Dr. John E. Sarno in his book, “Healing Back Pain” based on his ground breaking research on TMS (Tension Myoneural Syndrome), revealing how muscle tension, stress and other psychological factors can cause back pain.

How can a course of Alexander Technique lessons help with back and other joint pain?

An Alexander Technique practitioner teaches a variety of tools (not exercises) that can be used in everyday life to minimize excessive muscle tension restoring healthy muscle tone. These help to reduce compression on the spine and joints, alleviating pain, disk and nerve problems. These tools also help to calm the nervous system reducing our stress response, and therefore further reducing the likelihood of reoccurring problems. Our unique upright stance and nervous system have evolved to live the life of a hunter gatherer (96% of our evolutionary history) and most of modern life’s activities do not resemble that at all. Alexander Technique lessons teach how to move, work and play utilising our natural design rather than working against it, really getting down to the root cause of how and why back pain occurs. These can be unconscious muscular holding patterns, poor postural habits and stress. Frequently, clients who come to me feel pain and stiffness and may have reduced joint mobility, but are completely unaware that they are holding muscular tension and this alone is causing the pain, stiffness, compression through the spine and reduced joint mobility. Raising awareness of habitual muscular holding patterns and learning how to release and prevent them during everyday life is a key part of a course of Alexander Technique lessons.

The Alexander Technique has been widely used across the performing arts and in competitive sports to improve performance, solve pain issues and to reduce likelihood of injury. Due to the specific nature of the work within Dentistry and Surgery, Alexander Technique has become popular amongst these health professionals and is unsurprisingly recommended by Dentist’s Provident, the UK’s largest health insurer for the dental industry offering its members a free lesson when they book six with an Alexander Technique practitioner.

Spinal surgeon, Jack Stern, founder of Brain & Spine Surgeons of New York ( has spoken at Alexander Technique International Congress about why he thinks the Alexander Technique is so effective for treating back pain. He says,

“97% of people with back pain would benefit by learning the Alexander Technique – It’s only a very small minority of back pain sufferers that require medical intervention such as surgery.”

I became aware of the Alexander Technique when I was at the beginning of my teaching career and developed back pain. Nothing I tried touched it and I couldn’t see what conventional medicine had to offer back pain sufferers that was useful in the long term. Once I’d had a couple of lessons I quickly realized the Alexander Technique lessons were an investment in the rest of my life and this remains a firm belief. My clients feel the same way.

If you are suffering from back, neck or joint pain please contact me for more information or to book a session.

Kathy Ponter - ATE ukm

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