Medical Definition of Alexander technique

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Alexander technique: A process that teaches how to properly coordinate body and mind to release harmful tension and to improve posture, coordination and general health. The technique is named for the Australian Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955) who developed it. An actor, Alexander began his career as a Shakespearean orator. He developed chronic laryngitis while performing. Determined to restore the full use of his voice, he carefully watched himself while speaking, and observed that undue muscular tension accounted for his vocal problem. He sought a way to eliminate that restriction. Over time, he discovered and articulated a principle that he believed profoundly influenced health and well-being: when neck tension is reduced, the head no longer compresses the spine and the spine is free to lengthen. Alexander restored his own natural capacity for ease by changing the way he thought while initiating an action. From this work on himself and others, he evolved a hands-on teaching method that encouraged all the body's processes to work more efficiently -- as an integrated, dynamic whole. Today the Alexander technique is usually considered to be within the context of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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