They studied 579 patients with chronic or recurrent back pain who received normal care, massage or lessons in the Alexander technique – an individualised approach to self-care based on postural tone and neuromuscular coordination. Half the patients in each group also underwent an exercise programme.
After one year, the researchers found that patients who combined 24 lessons in the Alexander technique with exercise reported just three days of pain in the previous four weeks, compared to 21 days in the control group. Those who used the technique also reported improved quality of life.
‘One to one lessons in the Alexander technique from registered teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain,’ the researchers said in the online first edition of the BMJ.