The Power of AT and Recent Research

by Jennifer Roig-Francoli

~People often ask me, “What is the Alexander Technique (AT)?”  Because I’m a professional violinist as well as an Alexander Technique teacher, they usually assume that the Technique has something to do with music.  The Technique actually does have a lot to do with performance and creativity, but not any more than it has to do with anything else, because the Technique can be seamlessly applied to any activity.  The Alexander Technique can help anyone achieve greater success towards achieving whatever motivates them to take lessons–whether that goal is to improve performance, eliminate pain, relieve stress, or improve general health and well-being.

When I first began taking Alexander lessons, my primary motivation was to get rid of the neck pain that had been bothering me for months, which was not helped by either traditional Western medicine or chiropractic treatments.  Fortunately, I was able to experience total relief from my neck pain after just a few lessons.  However, I also noticed so many unexpected additional benefits to my whole body and mental outlook that I continued to take lessons, began a three-year AT teacher training soon after, and now I continue to practice the Technique daily for myself and others as a teacher of the Technique.

Jennifer working with a surgeon.When I teach, I enjoy combining my specific skills and knowledge of The Technique with my life experience as a performer, as well my experiences dealing with life’s difficulties, aches, and pains.  I had a wonderful opportunity to combine these things in a way that captured worldwide attention when I was offered a chance to design and conduct a research pilot study for surgeon residents at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2009.  Surgeons who perform laparoscopic surgery often experience back and neck pain during their work.  Only eight days of intensive study in The Alexander Technique helped these surgeons become much more aware of their posture and mental attitude as they carried themselves through their daily life and work.  Their newly increased awareness, combined with new ways of constructive thinking about their self-use, helped them to change unhelpful habits so they could redirect their attention and stop doing the usual things that were contributing to their discomfort.  Their technical skills improved, their pain diminished, and they felt better.  Research on our pilot study was presented at two national medical conferences, won a prize for clinical papers from the American Academy of Pediatrics, and was published in the Journal of Urology in 2011.

A larger research study, with results published in the British Medical Journal in 2008 A lighthearted moment!found that “One to one lessons in the Alexander Technique from registered teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain.”  It was determined that the positive benefits of some exercise along with AT lessons–but not massage–remained effective at one year, with an 85% average reduction in back pain.

I love teaching people new self-care skills to improve their lives by learning The Alexander Technique.  My students typically find that their pain is relieved, they feel more energetic and relaxed, and their performance, technical, and creative skills often improve dramatically.  Best of all, they enjoy learning it as much as I enjoy teaching it! If you’re at all curious about whether AT can help you improve your life in any way, I invite you to contact a teaching member of The Alexander Technique Guild of Ohio for lessons.  I welcome you to contact me for a free phone or email consultation, or to schedule an appointment.  You’re guaranteed to learn something new and useful from your very first lesson!


The Power of AT and Recent Research — 2 Comments

  1. What a fantastic use of the Alexander Technique. It’s true that many people associate the technique with music, or acting, but it’s uses go well beyond. Doctors, dentists, dental hygienists and others could benefit greatly by learning the AT. It could even extend their careers.
    Thanks again for posting this!