Aston® Kinetics is a blend of movement education, structural bodywork, exercise prescription, and ergonomics. The cornerstone of this method is understanding functional movement–everyday movement habits. Over time, our habitual ways of moving through our lives literally shapes our bodies–and then, our symptoms. The influence of functional movement habits on structural symptoms is widely under-rated. Understanding how to assess and work with functional movement patterns is the missing link for many acute or chronic problems arising in the human structure.
The Premise behind the method is based on the observation that in nature, movement and form occurs in curves and spirals that flow. Aston® Kinetics accepts that the same is true in the human body and human movement. Also in nature, we see that each form is unique, each individual rock, each tree, has its own individual shape and means of deriving balance. Yet, we tend to think of a rather rigid “ideal” when we think of “good posture” – that ideal is a linear, symmetrical, shoulders-back, chin-in, book-on-your head kind of notion. “The common denominator (for most models of good posture) is holding; holding in any way loses the essence, the person in their natural state.” Judith Aston.
The Aston® idea is that each individual recreates the ideal. In Aston® work, good posture is not achieved by holding your body in a certain shape, it is achieved by learning to recognize what balance feels like. By “balance”, we are referring to equilibrium, as well as several factors that, within a range of ongoing kinesthetic negotiation, stay well-proportioned relative to each other. These include: proportionate tone, body-weight, momentum and the counterbalance of gravity and ground reaction force.
In learning to recognize the various factors that affect balance and degrees of refinement thereof, the rewards of discovering body-communication skills can eclipse the initial goal of resolving a troublesome symptom or syndrome. These lines of body communication can yield a relationship with your body that, like learning a new language, can open unexpected doors of perception and possibility. Among these, people report feeling a sense of freedom, a lightness of their body that they have never felt before, and are somtimes surprised to also feel a lift of attitude and change of thought patterns and self-image.
From a combination of the Aston® movement principles and hands-on work, one learns to balance the forces of gravity within this unique combination of structural influences. Part of this process is coming into relationship with the counterbalance of gravity – “ground reaction force.” Ground reaction force is the “equal and opposite reaction” of gravity that occurs when we push down in the gravitational field- and we get an upward lift. This not only provides the set-up for your counterproductive holding patterns to begin the process of letting go into a higher level of balance, it feels good and is affirming of the whole being on a very essential level.
As an example of the benefits of this process, honing in on the counterbalancing of forces of gravity and ground reaction force results in more direct weight bearing through your skeletal system. Muscles, which are often constricted because they are erroneously called upon for structural support, are set free for responsiveness, for action, for expression. The result is less compression of joints and muscles. Ground force can be thought of as the source of “up” and learning how to use it is a lift–both physically and psychologically. Learning to use ground reaction force with accuracy often allows the opposite – release of bodyweight into a more solid, connected relationship with the ground and a friendlier relationship with gravity. These discoveries are fundamental to the human experience.
When we observe nature, we see that all movement that occurs does so dynamically, in three-dimensional dynamic spirals. “Dynamic” in that the arc of the curve and the direction of flow are in constant change. In human movement, problems can occur when the strong conditioning toward linear preferences in modern culture squelches this 3-D dynamic quality. The Aston® work has sometimes been said to come closer to the engineering principles of fluid dynamics (the science of how fluids move) – since our bodies are 75-85% water – rather than body mechanics, which is based on how solid objects move.
The End Result
The aim of the movement education that goes on in an Aston® session is to provide an experience of the new movement pattern rather than a prescription for how one “should” be or rules to follow. The intent is to create an identifying kinesthetic beacon that illumines a pathway of increased ease for the neuro-muscular system. The experience of identifying a movement pathway of increased ease often feels buoyant, light, or freeing. Once identified, it is sought after by one’s neuro-muscular system.
Our movement patterns are an ever-present and accessible link between body and mind. Thus, movement is not only a means of accessing a wide realm of symptoms, but also can open gateways to body language, habits, or limiting beliefs that one may wish to change. The result of this work is often one of gaining considerable freedom in one’s body, and this can translate into the larger context of one’s life.
The body is asymmetrical; it is an asymmetrical structure that moves in three dimensional spiral patterns. There is no perfect way to move our bodies because we are all individually unique. We therefore do harm when we strive for symmetry. The body is made of spiral movement patterns, not linear.
We we directly weight-bear through our skeleton, not muscles, muscular tension frees up so they are free for movement. Gravity is always there “ground force reaction” and so is an equal and opposite reaction: We weight down in a gravitational field and we have upward lift as a reaction to that down force. When we release into gravity, we can then have uplift. Get friendly with gravity because it what creates our source of up.
Content Credit: Zia Parker
Aston® Kinetics practitioner, and Physical Therapist: Oakland, CA.
Edie Murphy, P.T. www.handsonpt.com
Edie has a creative Physical Therapy practice where people learn the skills necessary to function even better than before an injury. Trained for 20 years as a dancer, Edie earned her B.S. degree in Dance/ Physical Education in 1974 from the University of Wisconsin and her Physical Therapy certificate in 1978 from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She became certified in 1985 in Aston® Kinetics and in Pediatric NDT (neuro-developmental treatment) in 1994.