Christopher Stevens wrote on the science of the Alexander Technique and related science. This entry only covers Stevens’ own research into aspects of the Technique.
Stevens’ own research broadly covered the following topics: sit-to-stand movements; postural sway; height and shoulder width changes; and stress related increase in blood pressure. Below is a summary of the studies.
1. A study examined the influence of the leg position upon sit-to-stand, using photography and a force platform to record the difference between starting with the legs at a 90 degrees angle and having the feet closer to the chair, with two subjects. The latter position is more efficient.
2. An analysis of habitual and guided movement patterns (guided by an Alexander teacher) using a force platform and EMG. The guided movements showed reductions in head movement, ground reaction forces and EMG activity in trapezius, sternomastoid and erector spinae compared with unguided movements.
3. A study with one subject (this was only a feasibility study), comparing three movement strategies: i) moving with no thought of how he was moving; ii) consciously making an effort to move quickly; iii) applying the Alexander Technique to the movement. The study measured trajectory, head velocity and force platform.
4. A study with 26 subjects examining the effect of neck and back splinting on postural stability when standing, under different conditions, with eyes open and with eyes closed. The sway was greater with eyes closed, but there was no significant effect of the various splint conditions in either males or females.
5. A comparison of postural stability between subjects who had training in the Alexander Technique (6 students) and those who had no training. The only significant difference between the two groups is the reduction in sway in the AT students when standing with the eyes closed and the feet together compared with normal subjects.
6. The influence of Alexander lessons on static posture. Height and biacromial width of 20 subjects were measured before and after a short course of lessons in the Technique. The number of lessons was not uniform for all subjects, subjects receiving between 5 and 20 lessons. All subjects showed significant increases in standing and sitting height and in biacromial width.
7. This investigated the effects of the Alexander Technique in professional musicians under the stress of performance. 39 members of the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, Denmark, were randomly assigned to one of four groups: 1. exercise, 2. Alexander lessons, 3. beta blockers, and 4. placebo. Group 1. ran 7 km three times per week for eight weeks. Group 2. received 20 Alexander lessons over eight weeks. Group 3. took 40mg propranolol 90 minutes before the second concert performance. Group 4. took a placebo before the second concert performance. Measurements before two concert performances were made of the subjects’ heart rates and blood pressures, and only measurements from the second concert performance were included. Blood pressure dropped in the Alexander group (as in the beta blocker group) but there were no significant changes to heart rate.
His article, ‘Experimental studies of the F. M. Alexander Technique’, contains a summary of his research.
For Stevens’ other writings, see Christopher Stevens.