Functional reach improvement in normal older women after Alexander Technique instruction

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1999 Jan;54(1):M8-11. 

Dennis RJ.

Alexander Technique of Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. rondennis@compuserve.com

 

BRIEF SUMMARY

People who participated in this study were more than 65 years-old. Alexander Technique instruction was provided as eight sessions over 4 weeks in a group setting. The study was in two phases: a pilot with six volunteers and a second phase with a further 13 volunteers, of whom seven received Alexander Technique instruction and six formed a control group who received no intervention. The study measured functional reach which is a standard measure of postural stability (balance) and has been shown to correspond well with common reaching tasks in daily life.

In both the pilot and second phase of the study, those people who had received Alexander Technique instruction had significantly better functional reach than they had before the study; their functional reach was also significantly better than that of the control group. One month later a follow-up test was performed; this showed a slight reduction in the amount of improvement, suggesting that eight group sessions may not have been enough to maintain the change fully. In a questionnaire, participants who had received Alexander Technique instruction reported improvements in balance, posture, ease of movement, body awareness and self confidence. The results of this study indicate that Alexander Technique instruction can lead to improved balance in elderly people. 

 

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND 

 Functional reach (FR) is a clinical measure of balance. The Alexander Technique (AT) is a nonexercise approach to the improvement of body mechanics. This study investigated a possible relationship between FR performance and AT instruction.

METHODS 

Three groups comprised of women older than 65, with the exception of one male control, were studied: (i) a pilot group, and (ii) experimental and (iii) control groups. Groups 1 and 2 were given eight 1-hour, biweekly sessions of AT instruction with pre- and posttests in FR, whereas Group 3 was given only pre- and posttests in FR.

RESULTS

Groups 1 and 2 both showed significant improvement in FR performance. Group 2 was retested 1 month after posttest and showed a slight decrease in FR performance. For Groups 1 and 2, a questionnaire allowing qualitative responses on a four-item scale showed an overall positive response to the AT instruction.

CONCLUSIONS

AT instruction may be effective in improving balance and thereby reducing the incidence of falls in normal older women.

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

See the benefits of Alexander Technique