Potential mechanisms of the Alexander Technique: Toward a comprehensive neurophysiological model

Kinesiology Review 2020; 9:199–213

Timothy W Cacciatore, Patrick M Johnson, Rajal G Cohen


Published abstract

The Alexander technique (AT) has been practiced for over 125 years. Despite evidence of its clinical utility, a clear explanation of how AT works is lacking, as the foundational science needed to test the underlying ideas has only recently become available. The authors propose that the core changes brought about by Alexander training are improvements in the adaptivity and distribution of postural tone, along with changes in body schema, and that these changes underlie many of the reported benefits. They suggest that AT alters tone and body schema via spatial attention and executive processes, which in turn affect low-level motor elements. To engage these pathways, AT strategically engages attention, intention, and inhibition, along with haptic communication. The uniqueness of the approach comes from the way these elements are woven together. Evidence for the contribution of these elements is discussed, drawing on direct studies of AT and other relevant modern scientific literature.

The publication is not open-access but you can read a lay summary here.

The paper complements an article published in the same journal issue that that examines the unique nature of the AT through an exploration of the process of learning it. The article also describes the evidence for the effectiveness of AT lessons, and the historical background (Woods, Glover and Woodman. An Education for Life: The Process of Learning the Alexander Technique. Kinesiology Review 2020;9:190–198).

Health and well-being