The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

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    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Comparative review: Alexander technique and Feldenkrais method

    Each has been practiced more than 50 years, in many countries, by thousands of students and teachers.

    Here are the holistic highlights from an excellent comparative review written by researchers and clinicians in Champaign and Urbana, Illinois.

    History

    • Alexander technique
      • Fredrick Matthias Alexander: actor and teacher born in 1869 in Australia.
      • He developed voice problems while reciting.
      • He believed that habitual movements hindered his expression and quality of voice.
      • Alexander developed a technique to assist others, primarily individuals in the performing arts, to overcome their dysfunction and use their bodies better.
    • Feldenkrais method
      • Moshe Feldenkrais, born in Russia in 1904, was an electrical engineer and physicist.
      • His interest in athletics, including soccer and judo, resulted in multiple knee injuries, which left him crippled.
      • He believed that habitual movements predisposed to injury.
      • Feldenkrais performed minute variations in his movements to increase awareness of his body mechanisms as a whole.

    Shared goals

    • Both are somatic (body) education techniques designed to establish heightened awareness of movements.
    • The desired outcome is to become more functional and aware of one’s movements spatially (or, more accurately, kinesthetically) during daily routine activity.

    Participants

    • The teacher’s role can be compared to a sports or musical instructor (eg, golf instructor or piano teacher).
    • Teaching movement awareness helps students move more fluently.
      • And as a result this may aid in pain, muscular imbalances, performance difficulties, movement disorders, and many other ailments, such as overuse injuries.

    Mechanism of action

    • Mechanisms by which somatic movement re-education techniques achieve their effect are unknown.
    • One concept is that the engrams (mental images) of habitual movements are altered or replaced by more functional and efficient movement patterns.
    • Few research attempts have been made to evaluate the mechanism by which these techniques achieve their effect.

    Techniques

    • Both disciplines postulate that habitual movements lead to movement problems, pain, or patterns of dysfunction.
      • Change these patterns, and the body functions better.
    • Both propose that these patterns are changed through a learning process.
    • Alexander stressed the importance of inhibition to alter routine movement.
      • The dynamic relationship between the head, neck, and spine is crucial to well-being.
      • The focus is on posture
    • Feldenkrais typically does not address posture directly.
    • In the Alexander technique, the teacher provides more clear direction to the student, whereas in the Feldenkrais method, the teacher doesn’t direct towards a specific outcome.

    The bottom line?

    Few well-designed studies with objective or standardized outcome measures have been published in peer reviewed journals, report the authors.

    An introduction to Alexander technique is here and Feldenkrais method is here.

    6/13/10 20:09 JR

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