Notes On... Postural Alignment Therapy


I've always had a bad back. I tan well, smile a lot and have a spine that pathologically hates me. Or does it? Postural Alignment Therapy (or "PAT") isn't physio, or yoga, or osteopathy — it's a system of personalised exercises that works by addressing the causes of pain, rather than focussing on the symptom itself. It's about gently firing up weak, underused muscles and helping to switch off muscles that are taking too much strain.

After attending an intro workshop — where I realise I have weaker ankles than Bambi and a raft of muscles I don't use — I book a one-to-one with Eleanor Burt. Ellie is one of two PA therapists in the Midlands, and having worked long, sedentary hours in corporate Brum in a former career, knows first-hand the sorts of problems most of us office-based lot suffer (stiff shoulder? bum knee? neck pain? all of the above?). Our session begins with an analysis of my posture and the parts of me that aren't functioning correctly. My hips are misaligned, I constantly lean forward and rarely keep my feet parallel. Look — here's a diagram and everything. Ellie then runs through a series of innocuous-seeming, but increasingly challenging, exercises that precisely target the muscles I'm failing to use, adapting movements so that I can use props around my house rather than buying new gear. As a regular yogi, I'm surprised by how fatigued specific muscles feel and that I'm immediately feeling better motion. 

Ellie is no soft touch and clear that to see long-term improvements, I'll need to commit daily to the exercises. She's also realistic about how much time I have and eager to adapt my regime to make sure it's working as hard as I'm prepared to. It's early days for me and PAT but having tried every form of back-related therapy you can conjur, I'm confident that looking at my body as a whole rather than focussing on pain as it presents is the way I'm going to future-proof my ability to move well, which is kind of a very big deal when you think about it. Now back to that tan.

Individual sessions start from £60. Speak to Ellie about group workshops and whether PAT is right for you at no cost.