The Alexander Technique offers a different approach towards health than 'traditional' western medicine. Western medicine focuses more on dis-ease and its cures, health is mainly defined by the absence of known diseases or problems. FM Alexander's defines health in more positive terms, "as the best possible reaction of the organism to the stimuli of living as manifested in its use and functioning." . Gravity represents one constant 'stimulus of living', and the Alexander Technique works on the way we deal with gravity.
Our bodies are equipped with a structure capable of using gravity in our favour, allowing easy and graceful movement. We can see the anti-gravity reflexes in action with babies and toddlers. The core musculature is strengthened before the large outer muscles that move the limbs, the most typical form of mis-use therefore virtually impossible. However, at some point most people start interfering with the way they react to gravity, and lose their innocent grace. Habitual mis-use leads sooner or later to problems, permanently compressed joints lose their mobility, squeezed organs might stop working properly, etc.
Learning the Alexander Technique is therefore rather prevention than cure, although a lot of people managed to improve their physical condition in ways that look like a cure. Especially in cases of back pain AT has a proven record of alleviating pain. Of course, if a problem is mainly caused by mis-use, the change in use will most likely restore health. FM himself showed a lot of enthusiasm about the potential of his technique, and wanted especially the medical profession informed about the relation between use and health.
The correlation between mis-use and health is relatively well investigated. Unhealthy eating habits can lead to obesity, diabetes and more, smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, etc. Investigating the connection between prevention and health proves difficult, especially without a decent definition of health.
- (FM Alexander, The Universal Constant in Living, London, 2000, p. 64)