If we envision the body using the paradigm of its continuous fascial fabric–not as separate muscles. bones and joints–we need to shift how we look at body movement. Many movement educators, bodyworkers, and fascial scientists now call our everyday movements: functional movement. No matter how much massage, chiropractic, bodywork, or physical therapy we receive, it is how we use ourselves in everyday movement that determines how free we are of chronic pain.
I have had the honor to have studied with one of the great bodywork and movement geniuses of our time, Judith Aston. Since 1970, Judith has been a leader in an effort to see the body in a new, dynamic way. She brings her wisdom to us through Aston Kinetics (formerly Aston-Patterning) which helps people who seek a remedy from acute or chronic pain by teaching them to improve postural and movement patterns. The brilliance of the Aston Paradigm is each individual is encouraged to discover how to feel his/her “best body” and then use movement techniques to release tension patterns in the body and build new patterns of ease.
I am grateful to Judith for teaching my body how to recycle the force of gravity and the ground reaction force in a balanced, dynamic way. She taught me how to fully sink into gravity and then how to spring out of it using her easily assimilated movements. This knowledge informs my work and my life every day, and her paradigm of ergonomics revolutionized how I sit at home, at work, and in the car.
Once I was introduced to and delved into the Inner Core, I realized that Judith Aston’s movement techniques uniquely activated and integrated the Inner Core into the body. The genius of her work was magnified. I then began to bridge the Inner Core with Judith’s movement techniques.
In 2012, I was introduced to Fascial Fitness, a revolutionary approach for training a healthy, resilient fascial system. Fascial Fitness is a cooperative effort by Robert Schleip, Ph.D. a bodyworker and researcher famous for his discovery of fascial contractibility, and Thomas Myers of Anatomy Trains. Research finds that it is not enough to just stretch and strengthen muscles, but that training the whole fibrous fascial system in which muscles live is important to building a strong, balanced, and coordinated muscular system. Training the fascia focuses on four things: 1) Vectors-change the angle of a movement or stretch instead of working the same vector; 2) Lengthening-to lengthen fascia go slow; 3) Hydration-Squeeze the fascia using hands, a roller, or myofascial stretches, and 4) Elasticity-bounce in rhythmic athletic movements like running, dancing, or kayaking.
Until now, sports trainers and physical education teachers have mostly focused on muscular strength, cardiovascular conditioning, and neuromuscular coordination. Some alternative physical training activities–such as Pilates, yoga, Continuum Movement, Aston Kinetics and martial arts–are already taking the connective tissue network into account. But what is revolutionary about Fascial Fitness is that it translates current insights in the field of fascial research into a practical training program.
With the science behind this program, it recognizes the unique characteristic of connective tissue which has an impressive adaptability. When regularly put under increasing physiological demands, fascia changes its architectural properties to meet the increasing demand. Because of its unique properties, fascia continuously adapts to regularly occurring strain, particularly in relation to length, strength, and ability to shear. In addition, scientists discovered that the kangaroo’s capacity to jump and spring was found in the fascia, not the muscles. So the Catapult Mechanism is found in the elastic recoil of the fascia. Scientists also found that the fasciae of humans have a similar kinetic storage capacity to that of kangaroos. This new discovery has led to an active revision of long-accepted principles in the field of movement science.
Sustainable Body builds the foundation of our vertical body by aligning the foundation joints of the skeleton and the myofascial cables of the NeuroCore. Once these are aligned and connected, Aston’s functional movement techniques and Fascial Fitness are used to embody our complex, adaptive, and dynamic systems for dynamic movement and well-being.