Gordon Zink, DO was the originator of the term Common Compensatory Pattern. He used the term to describe commonly found patterns of dysfunction in the body (neuromyofascial-skeletal unit) as a whole. Several other physicians, before and since, including Vladimir Janda, have also described recurring patterns of dysfunction found in their patient populations.
Dr. Zink, however, is considered to be “the first to provide a written, understandable, and clinically useful explanation for treatment, with a method of diagnosing and manipulative methods of treating the fascial patterns of the body.” Janda’s research had provided a practical structural formula for classifying predictable muscle imbalance patterns primarily focused on sagittal plane deviations. This structural integration model helped therapists understand how common tonic and phasic muscular adaptations caused paired antagonistic muscle groups to develop specific anterior/posterior preferences. Zink’s work focused more on side-to-side rotational/side bending asymmetries located in the frontal and transverse planes.
Zink’s studies indicated that healthy adults normally present with a balanced symmetrical pattern of fascial strain predictably located throughout the body. His findings concluded that most people who considered themselves healthy presented with alternating patterns of rotational preference at the key crossover junctions. He noted that zone-to-zone alternating patterns typically began with a left fascial rotational preference at the cervicocranial junction, followed by a right fascial bias at the cervicthoracic, a left at the thoracolumbar, and a right at the lumbosacral transitional junction.
When testing rotation from the cervicocranial to the lumbosacral regions, Zink discovered that approximately 80 percent of subjects who considered themselves healthy had rotational patterns of left/right/left/right, while the other 20 percent had a fascial preference for the sequence of right/left/right/left. He labeled the group presenting with L/R/L/R as possessing a ‘common compensatory pattern’ and the opposite group and the opposite patterned R/L/R/L as demonstrating an ‘uncommon compensatory pattern’.
Zink reasoned that, optimally, there should be equal fascial rotational motion to both left and right sides in all these referenced zones with, no bias present, Zink assigned this significant minority of subjects presenting with equal fascial bias in all four zones the title of ‘ideal’. Conversely, those whose patterns did not follow the back and forth compensatory pattern in all zones were labeled ‘uncompensated’. He discovered that the uncompensated individuals who neither fell into the ideal or compensated categories were slower to recover from illness, suffered more pain, and were more susceptible to venous and lymphatic congestion.