Going up on Toes

A procedure used by Alexander in his teaching, consisting of going from standing up to the toes. Its purpose is to generate more extensor muscle activity of the back musculature.


It is not described in Alexander’s writings, but he demonstrated it in the Bedford Physical Training College lecture in 1934. The write up (probably from stenographic notes) reports Alexander working on a member from the audience:

[To the student:] Now you are going up on your toes. Let that head just go up and up with my hand, and rise on your toes. [Alexander guides the student up on her toes.] Now I will show you something here that is rather interesting. [To the student:] Just go up on your toes by yourself. Did you see her body come forward? We all do that. Now watch while we do it together again. If this young lady will allow her head to go forward for me, so, and not do anything, but just use her brain to consent to the head going forward, and then come back to my hands here, these muscles of her back will come into play and lift her up on her toes. She will not need to throw herself forward, which is only a waste of time and energy.[1]


The procedure is also described and illustrated by Walter Carrington in Explaining the Alexander Technique,[2] and in a description of Marjory Barlow’s teaching, Think More, Do Less.[3]

Elisabeth Walker talks about going up on the toes in a 1999 Congress workshop.[4]


Alexander might have got the idea of applying the Technique to raising on to the toes from Delsarte. A book on Delsarte’s system in 1892 states that “if correct position is attained, the rising on the toes can be accomplished without swaying the body forward—a good test of correct position.”[5]

It was first used in Australia in the 1890s according to Marjory Barlow:

[Alexander] came rushing back before any surgery could be performed and started working on my mother. And one of the things he got her to do was to stand with her fingertips on the mantelpiece and then go up and down on her toes.[6]


  • ‘The mechanics of going up on the toes’ by Lawrence Jones covers the physics and mechanics of moving up on to the toes.[7]

Picture: Walter Carrington.


[1] Bedford Physical Training College Lecture, 3 August 1934, in Alexander, F. Matthias. Edited by Jean M. O. Fischer, Articles and Lectures, 1995, p. 178.
[2] Explaining the Alexander Technique by Walter Carrington and Sean Carey, (Mouritz, 2004), pp. 92-94.
[3] Think More, Do Less by Seán Carey (HITE, 2017), pp. 89-96.
[4] ‘Notes from a workshop’ by Elisabeth Walker in The Congress Papers 1999, An Ongoing Discovery edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2001), pp. 153–60.
[5] Gestures and Attitudes by Edward B. Warman ( 1892), p. 88.
[6] Alexander Technique: The Ground Rules by Marjory Barlow, Sean Carey (HITE, 2011), p. 89.
[7] ‘The mechanics of going up on the toes’ by Lawrence Jones in STATNews vol. 9, no. 6 edited by Jamie McDowell (STAT, January 2017), pp. 24–25.