Back Pain Treatment: Aston Patterning

There are several examples of average people developing their own alternative therapy programs to treat pain conditions that did not respond to the conventional treatments offered in their day. Interestingly, many of these pioneers in alternative therapy were entertainers who had no medical training before coming up with their own innovative programs to treat their back pain conditions. One example is Frederick Matthias Alexander, an actor who developed his Alexander Technique treatment program after suffering from hoarseness of voice. Judith Aston is another example of someone trained in the arts, who developed programs to help other people after she was able to successfully treat herself following a car accident.

Judith Aston graduated from UCLA with degrees in the fine arts and dance. In 1967, Aston's promising career was jeopardized when car accidents resulted in her developing chronic back pain. Doctors advised her that the injuries were serious enough to end her dance career. Like many back pain sufferers who failed to find relief from conventional treatments, Aston continued to try various alternative therapies until a Rolfing session was successful. Subsequently, she collaborated with Dr. Ida Rolf to develop an entire movement program that incorporates Rolfing Techniques. Rolfing is a therapy program in which patient lie passively while the therapist applies pressure and massage to areas of the muscle fascia that are tight or have developed adhesions (scar tissue).

Aston Patterning is a therapy program that imparts correct posture according to the particular characteristics of each person's body. Aston believed that each body is unique and needs its own proper method of movement. Due to the elasticity of the human body, all of us evolve to the requirements of our environment, as we grow and develop. The elasticity of the body enables us to mold our posture to the environment. For example, those of us who work in office environments spend a large part of our days slumped forward in our chairs, and over our desk tables. Practitioners of astern Patterning are trained to recognize the improper body mechanics that produce bad postures, and strain the soft tissues of our body.

This therapy program is interesting in that is has a system of guidelines for the use of proper body mechanics, while leaving room in a patient's treatment program to customize techniques according to patient's specific body types and occupational demands. Though Aston Patterning professionals do have specific guidelines for patient s in how to use their bodies to avoid injury, they still recognize that every patient is unique and has his own unique way of moving his body. Practitioners are trained to recognize bad patterns and habits that people have picked up over time, which puts strain on the body. Upon recognizing these bad patterns, these practitioners train patients on how to correctly use their body to put less strain on their spines and delicate joints.

Aston Patterning is also known as Aston Kinetics. A patterning program includes bodywork, movement, fitness coaching and ergonomics in one on one training sessions. Each of these sessions is highly personalized according to the patient's unique body patterns.

The sessions will be planned according to each client's goals, specific needs, and work and home environment. The sessions will include observation, hands on treatment, and educational instruction from the Aston-Patterning specialist. Individual elements of the sessions will include massage, postural evaluation, movement education, fitness training and environment modification. Environmental modification will include consultation on how patients may modify their workstations in order to use better body mechanics to avoid future injuries. Recent innovations to the therapy sessions that may be incorporated into programs include facial fitness toning and Arthro-Kinetics (joint work).

Each Aston-Patterning therapy session includes a basic five-step outline. This five-step outline includes a personal history, pretesting, movement education, bodywork, and ergonomics.

History: Your therapist will want to find out how your body became painful, before he or she can develop a custom plan to get you out of pain and discomfort. Your personal history will include a physical, psychological, and emotional analysis. How do you feel emotionally and physically? What types of exercises, movements, and work requirements may you feel better or worse?

Pretesting: The therapist will watch you as you walk, run, stand, move your body, and perform work.

Movement Education: During these modules, the therapist will show clients proper body mechanics and posture.

Bodywork: Bodywork may include treatments to provide accelerated healing for injuries, such as Aston Massage, myofascial Release, and Arthro-Kinetics.

Ergonomics: The therapist will teach you various movements to employ as you work at your workstations, and in other environments.