An educational approach aimed at reducing muscle tension and improving postural support has the potential to help millions of people suffering osteoarthritis in their knees, according to researchers.
Academics from our Centre for Health Science Research studied the effect of one-to-one lessons in the Alexander Technique on a group of 21 patients suffering knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.
The Alexander Technique teaches people to become more aware of their own habits – from slouching while standing to inappropriately tensing leg and back muscles while performing daily tasks – and lessons are aimed at improving movement coordination and reducing the muscular tension that has accumulated over a lifetime.
This pilot study, published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, jointly carried out with the University of Manchester’s Human Pain Research Group based at Salford Royal Hospital and University College London’s Institute of Neurology, found the sessions led to a reduction in damaging knee muscle contractions.
Although Alexander Technique lessons are a well-known means of helping people with conditions such as back pain, this is the first time researchers have looked into whether this approach can have any effect on knee osteoarthritis.
The patients – aged from 40-70 and recruited from GPs across Greater Manchester – each attended 20 one to one lessons in the Technique over a period of 12 weeks and were encouraged to continue applying the skills they had learned as they went about their daily activities.
They were tested on a range of factors before and after the sessions, while the same tests were also carried out with a healthy control group of people who were