The facts

The Alexander technique is a method aimed at improving the body's posture and movement.

The technique was developed by FM Alexander, an actor seeking relief from frequent bouts of voice loss. Alexander believed that through adjustments to habits of posture and movement, people can enhance their health.

The adjustments can be applied to a variety of daily situations - from the way a dancer plants his feet between moves, to how a violinist holds his instrument, to the way a chef stands when she chops vegetables, or the sitting posture of a computer programmer.

Over the course of 30 to 45 minutes of an Alexander technique lesson, one would be guided through a series of movements by an instructor's verbal direction or gentle touch. Supporters of the technique praise its potential to reduce tension, strain, pain, and fatigue, and to improve overall balance and coordination. Limited but well-designed research has also given weight to the benefits of the technique.

A word of caution

The Alexander technique is meant to be a complementary therapy and not as sole treatment for a condition, disease, or injury. While scientific evidence specific to Alexander's methods is limited, the technique is similar to other physiological and musculoskeletal techniques and has not been associated with severe complications.

Instructors generally undergo 1,600 hours of training over 3 years. Some practitioners receive certification. Some practice without it. Your choice of an Alexander technique instructor will depend on your unique needs. Start off on the right foot by clearly and thoroughly explaining your concerns and your medical history. Ask questions to be sure your instructor is the right fit for you.