What is Aston-Patterning?

By: Mark Barber L.M.T.

Aston-Patterning@ is an educational process developed by Judith Aston in 1977 combining movement coaching, bodywork, ergonomics, and fitness training. It can be helpful to individuals seeking relief from acute or chronic pain; those that wish to improve their posture and increase the efficiency of their movement patterns either in activities of daily living or complex activities such as athletics or the performing arts; and as an integral part of a personal growth process.

The movement work, Neurokinetics, has two divisions. The first part involves instruction in the most efficient and least stressful way to perform the less complex activities of daily living and progresses to quite complex activities such as sports and musical instrument performance. The second part teaches the client how they can use movement to decrease the accumulated tension in the body. The emphasis of both parts of the movement work is ease and efficiency of movement while performing an activity.

The bodywork includes Aston massage, Myokinetics, and Arthrokinetics. The massage is a specialized form based on Swedish massage but is not compressive and utilizes a three dimensional touch, which helps to release functional holding patterns (muscle tension that is being maintained by the nervous system and has not yet created a physiological change in the connective tissue) from surface to bone. Myokinetics is a form of myofascial release that releases deeply embedded structural holding patterns from the fascial network. Arthrokinetics addresses structural holding patterns at the joint surfaces and along the bone. The bodywork is used to make new movement options available and to allow the body alignment, dimensions and internal volume move to a more optimal place. The sessions are followed with a movement lesson to assist the client in understanding how the tension had been created and how to maintain the changes achieved.

The ergonomic training demonstrates to the client how the environment affects their body's alignment, dimensional integrity, and degree of effort required to perform activities, as well as identifying the role their environment has played in their current complaint. The client is trained to modify or negotiate with less optimal situations that they encounter frequently such as seating in their office, home or car or shoes that suggest a less than optimal alignment while standing, walking, or running. The Aston Line@ offers ready-made products to modify a wide variety of seating.

The Aston Fitness@ training includes Vertical and Horizontal Loosening, Toning, Stretching, and cardiovascular fitness. The Loosening moves are done in lying and standing to address specific areas of tension which when released results in assisting the client to achieve their best alignment and dimensional integrity before they begin working out. Toning teaches the client how to tone the specific areas that are lower in tone in comparison to the rest of their body in a way that increases the muscle tone in that area without compromising any other area of their body. This results in a more even distribution of the muscle tone throughout their body so that the work load is shared more evenly. Stretching is taught in a way that doesn't borrow dimension from an adjacent body segment while stretching a specific area.

Aston-Patterning@ is a complex and complete system that combines all of these techniques to assist the client in reducing pain, improving their function and neutralizing their negative past history so they may become the unique individual of their highest potential.