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The Changing Face of The Alexander Technique

Health professionals agree that it’s better for all concerned for elderly people live in their own homes and remain independent for as long as possible. But one of the main reasons for people having to go into care is lack of mobility which reduces the ability to perform daily tasks while increasing the risk of a fall.


There are many conditions that can effect mobility and balance, some can be treated with medication but others such as arthritis are often dismissed as being part of growing old so it’s something that has to be accepted. However, while arthritis and other degenerative diseases associated with old age cannot be reversed, there are steps you can take to reduce their impact to improve your quality of life.


One of these is The Alexander Technique, the world-renowned method for promoting efficient movement used by performing artists and sports people. It works on the principle of removing poor movement habits that can result from illness, injury or a sedate lifestyle. Research has found back pain sufferers learning the technique have less days of pain than those using other conventional forms of treatment. [1]


Other studies have found elderly woman taking lessons in The Alexander Technique improved their scores on the Functional Reach Test (how far an individual can reach forward beyond arm’s length while maintaining feet planted in a standing position) and therefore reduce their risk of a fall.[2]


I recently taught a man in his mid-eighties who had been told to stop his much-loved daily walk because of knee pain related to arthritis. After assessing how he moved, we were able to change his walking pattern to reduce the undue stress he was placing on his knees. He is now walking two miles a day with no pain and continuing to gain the benefits from this much underrated weight-bearing form of exercise.


So something as simple as making a few small changes to your movement can make big differences to the quality of your life.


Roy Palmer is a teacher of The Alexander Technique and has seventeen years’ experience of working with people of all ages and abilities.


References:

[1] Participating in and delivering the ATEAM trial (Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage) interventions for chronic back pain: A qualitative study of professional perspectives – see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20688257


[2] Functional reach improvement in normal older women after Alexander Technique instruction – see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10026656

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