Aston Patterning is a physical therapy that aims to treat a person’s physical body as something that is unique to them. Rather than to enforce physical symmetry, it seeks to recognize the asymmetries that are natural to a person’s body. Aston Patterning is a holistic approach and works to ensure that the entire body is in sync with itself.
Judith Aston, creator of Aston Patterning, graduated from U.C.L.A with a B.A. and M.F.A. in education and dance. During the 1960s she worked at Long Beach City College developing education programs for athletes, dancers and actors. A special interest of Aston’s was the interaction between body consciousness and psychological health.
In 1968, Aston was involved in a serious car accident and sought the help of Dr. Ida Rolf for rehabilitation. Subsequently, Aston herself became trained in Rolf’s Structural Integration techniques, known as Rolfing. During the 1970s Aston became a teacher of Rolfing, combining it with her own knowledge of movement and dance.
Aston later became disillusioned with the Rolf school of thought. She disagreed with models that favoured segmental alignment and placing constraints on posture. Drawing on her years of experience, she developed what she calls the Aston Paradigm. This is a new model of bio-mechanics and movement education. Aston continues to teach and write about Aston Patterning today.
There are four aspects to Aston Patterning: movement education, bodywork, ergonomics and fitness training.
The movement education aspect relates to neuro-kinetics and muscle memory. Individuals are assisted in developing easier and less stressful ways of moving their bodies in their day-to-day lives.
Bodywork goes together with the movement education so that changes in movement may be properly maintained. The bodywork is both deep-tissue and superficial, making use of precise, three-dimensional strokes.
Ergonomically, patients are taught to understand the environmental factors that may affect their body structure and usage. The Aston-Line offers a variety of products that promote ergonomic seating .
Aston Fitness training promotes stretching and loosening of the body and can be considered as self-massage.
Aston-Patterning can be of assistance to a wide variety of people. Sports people may find that, by developing more efficient body structure and movement, they can reduce their risk of injury and increase stamina. Aged individuals who suffer from stooping, slowness or lack of balance may find that they can neutralise many of the negative aspects of getting older. Office-workers may be able to minimise the consequences of repetitive body movements so that they feel less fatigued by work and less prone to injury or sickness. Driving a car is a common cause of physical strain, Aston-Patterning may help people to understand how this happens and how to prevent it.
Treatment begins with a careful examination of the patient in their normal range of body movement. Muscle tightness and skeletal formation are examined. The patient is questioned about their physical condition and asked to describe any pains or discomfort. Based on these investigations, the practitioner will develop a long-term program for muscle re-education.
The Aston-Line offers many different products that help promote natural alignment in the human body. The basic premise is that the environment should be adapted to the human body, not the other way around. Specially designed cushions are available that reduce positional tension. These include the Gel Seat, a unique triangular shaped cushion filled with semi-firm gel. It is thin so that it may be used in a variety of setting with minimal affect to sitting height.
There are a number of Aston Patterning books are available, including, “Moving Beyond Posture”, a book filled with exercises designed to assist in the improvement of posture.