Prolonged weight-shift and altered spinal coordination during sit-to-stand in practitioners of the Alexander Technique

Gait Posture. 2011 Oct;34(4):496-501. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.06.026. Epub 2011 Jul 22.


The Alexander Technique (AT) is used to improve postural and movement coordination and has been reported to be clinically beneficial, however its effect on movement coordination is not well-characterized. In this study we examined the sit-to-stand (STS) movement by comparing coordination (phasing, weight-shift and spinal movement) between AT teachers (n=15) and matched control subjects (n=14). We found AT teachers had a longer weight-shift (p<0.001) and shorter momentum transfer phase (p=0.01), than control subjects. AT teachers also increased vertical foot force monotonically, rather than unweighting the feet prior to seat-off, suggesting they generate less forward momentum with hip flexors. The prolonged weight-shift of AT teachers occurred over a greater range of trunk inclination, such that their weight shifted continuously onto the feet while bringing the body mass forward. Finally, AT teachers had greatly reduced spinal bending during STS (cervical, p<0.001; thoracic, p<0.001; lumbar, p<0.05). We hypothesize that the low hip joint stiffness and adaptive axial postural tone previously reported in AT teachers underlies this novel "continuous" STS strategy by facilitating eccentric contractions during weight-shift.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Foot / physiology
  • Hip Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Spine / physiology*