Effects of Alexander Technique training experience on gait behaviour in older adults

Journal of Body & Movement Therapies 2015;19:473–481 

O'Neil M,  Anderson D, Allen D, Ross C, Hamel K 

  

BRIEF SUMMARY

Balance in movement (dynamic stability) is often impaired in older people. They tend to have greater sideways (medio-lateral) sway when walking, which is a known risk factor for falling. This study involved seven people aged between 60 and 75 years (as a control) and seven registered Alexander Technique teachers. The control participants were selected to match the teachers as closely as possible in terms of age, height, weight and gender. The researchers investigated the walking patterns and medio-lateral movement in the two groups as potential heightened risk factors for falling.

 

The participants completed a pre-assessment questionnaire on the state of their health and balance which showed that there were no significant differences between the two groups. The study involved walking at a fast and at a comfortable pace with the participants' knowledge of being tested, and again without their knowledge of being tested. Their speed, number of steps, as well as length and width of stride were recorded. The results showed that those who had had Alexander Technique training walked with greater stability and were therefore potentially at less risk of age-related falls compared with the control group.  In conclusion, the authors stated there was superior control of movement among the Alexander Technique teachers compared with the control group.

Growing Old

At about the age of 45, I began to experience severe pain in both of my knees. I was told I had damaged the cartilage, initially caused by the use of a kicking strap on a sailing dinghy, and made worse by many years of beagling, and to stop beagling or risk ending up in a wheelchair. A few years later a friend suggested the Alexander Technique. At first I was very sceptical, but had also reached the stage where I was ready to try virtually any means to solve the problem. A few weeks after my first lesson, I had gone out beagling, but only walking.

Chris Walsh

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