Objectives: To determine feasibility and potential of Alexander technique (AT) group classes for chronic neck pain and to assess changes in self-efficacy, posture, and neck muscle activity as potential mechanisms for pain reduction.
Design: A single-group, multiple-baseline design, with two pre-tests to control for regression toward the mean, a post-test immediately after the intervention, and another post-test five weeks later to examine retention of benefits. Participants were predominately middle-aged; all had experienced neck pain for at least six months.
Intervention: Participants attended ten one-hour group classes in AT, an embodied mindful approach that may reduce habitual overactivation of muscles, including superficial neck muscles, over five weeks.
Outcome measures: (1) self-reports: Northwick Park Questionnaire (to assess neck pain and associated disability) and Pain Self-Efficacy Questionnaire; (2) superficial neck flexor activation and fatigue (assessed by electromyography and power spectral analysis) during the cranio-cervical flexion test; (3) posture during a video game task.
Results: There were no significant changes in outcomes between pre-tests. All participants completed the intervention. After the intervention: (1) participants reported significantly reduced neck pain; (2) fatigue of the superficial neck flexors during the cranio-cervical flexion test was substantially lower; (3) posture was marginally more upright, as compared to the second pre-intervention values. Changes in pain, self-efficacy, and neck muscle fatigue were retained at the second post-test and tended to be correlated with one another.
Conclusions: Group AT classes may provide a cost-effective approach to reducing neck pain by teaching participants to decrease excessive habitual muscle contraction during everyday activity.
Keywords: CCFT; Cranio-cervical flexion test; Electromyography; Neck muscle fatigue; Neck pain; Rehabilitation; Self-efficacy.
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