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Are you part of Britain's "back pain crisis"?

Back in January there were a series of national press articles about back and neck problems. According to one article, obesity and home-working are among the causes of the surge in cases, as official data shows almost a million people in the UK cannot work due to back and neck pain (The Guardian, Michael Goodier and Andrew Gregory, 19/01/24). According to the same article the welfare bill for back pain has tripled – tripled – in 20 years.

These are phenomenally huge numbers. How might we help people out of this crisis? And no, I’m not going to say Alexander Technique is the be-all and end-all, but I do think it is part of the solution - as does a leading osteopath. It was mentioned in an article called “The Experts: 20 ways to beat back pain”, also in The Guardian, in February this year. Nick Mann, a GP and NHS osteopath at the Royal London Hospital “believes all schools should teach the Alexander Technique, a series of movements designed to foster the efficient use of muscles – but says it’s never too late to learn. “By undoing patterns of adverse neuromuscular spinal reflexes, students learn to reduce joint and muscle strains in everyday activities” he says. “Research in the British Medical Journal showed that the effects of AT reduced chronic back pain and disability more than physiotherapy and were preventative one year later””.


Well, there you go. I don’t entirely agree with Dr Mann’s choice of words - the Technique could never be reduced to “a series of movements” - but we do know the Alexander Technique works for chronic back pain, not least because of the BMJ research (see my very first blog, here).


Why oh why is the Technique not available via private medical insurance schemes or other mechanisms to make it more widely available to the public? In the article, Dr Mann is echoing Alexander’s own wish that his way of working be taught to all children in school before bad habits set in. Oh brave new world!


Do have a read of the articles and if you are one of the millions suffering from chronic back pain, or you know someone who is, please pass on this blog post.

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