Podcast 106 with Katy Bowman of Alliged and Well

Podcast Episode #106: Special Guest Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well

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Podcast 106 with Katy Bowman of Alliged and Well


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1.  Introducing Katy [3:00]Balanced Bites Podcast 106 with Katy Bowman from Aligned and Well
2.  Alignment with regard to modern health issues [9:08] 3.  Physical nourishment [15:08] 4.  Sitting, standing.[21:11] 5.  Exercise and movement [28:37] 6.  Walking [38:30] 7.  Movement in kids [45:37] 8.  Junk food walking [54:06] 9.  Movement and digestion [1:01:56] 10. The pelvic floor [1:06:13]

Aligned and Well – website
Alignment Matters Book
Katy Says Blog

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Liz Wolfe: Hey everyone, Liz here. Welcome to episode 106 of the Balanced Bites podcast. We are, as usual, sponsored by Pete’s Paleo, delivering healthy fresh paleo meals across the country as well as their co-venture, Real Skin Products, which is of course, a fabulous source for paleo and Skintervention-friendly tallow balm and deodorant. Be sure to check them out. We always have links to their stuff in the show notes for the podcast. We are also sponsored by our favorite, delicious, smooth, never bitter, robust iced coffee purveyors, Chameleon Cold-Brew, a brand I just continue to fall in love with every dang sip. You can find Chameleon Cold-Brew in stores; check their website for details. Again, there is a link in the show notes. Or, you can order online, which is what I do. The goods come in beautiful glass bottles that you can reuse or recycle. Fantastic.

So, on to episode 106. This fall’s podcast series has been, really amazing so far. Full of some really fantastic guests who are also active in the Paleo, Primal, Ancestral community, and today is no exception. In fact, today just might be the pinnacle of greatness when it comes to a subject no less important than the food we eat. And that is the subject of how we move and also just as important how we align our bodies when we are not moving. So, our guest today is the incredible Katy Bowman of http://www.alignedandwell.com/. The new book, Alignment Matters, the blog, http://www.katysays.com/, and she is just absolutely tops from both the information she provides, and how she provides it. She is a genius but she is totally accessible and incredibly funny. Like, snot-shooting funny. I have to give a quick hat-tip to Kristine Rudolph from Exploring Wellness at http://kristinerudolph.com/ for making me aware of Katy’s work. I had no idea what I was missing. And of course, now, I have a new habit of just pouring over everything alignment, posture, and movement related.

1. Introducing Kathy [3:00]

A little bio on Katy before I let her talk, finally, and have her introduce herself a little bit and her work in her own words. She has a new book called Alignment Matters, which begins shipping in just a few days from the date this podcast airs. It ships, I believe, on October 1, 2013. It is a must read. I have gotten a review copy, an advanced copy of it, in my hands right now, and it is fabulous. She also has a prior book called Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief. That is on Amazon; that is also a must read. And you might think, “Hey, I don’t have foot pain! This doesn’t apply to me!” but it is so far beyond that. Once we are done here today it will become even more clear how much foot alignment applies to all of us and everything we do. Katy also has an app in the iTunes store called “Down There for Women” which gives a suite of corrective exercises that help women to improve pelvic alignment. This increases the function of the pelvic floor, which is another critical point we will hopefully touch on today. I mean, really, at this point nothing is off limits. We may talk about you know, ear muffs, queefs. We may talk about, yeah, there are a million things that we could touch on today with Katy. She is a mathematician turned physicist turned biomechanical scientist, which basically means she has a body of knowledge I really cannot even conceive of at this point. She is an advocate for the biomechanical model of preventative medicine, and in addition to the new book and the book before that, she directs the Restorative Exercise Institute. She has a DVD series called Aligned and Well, and she is basically the go-to woman for all matters alignment. Now, I will shut up, and welcome our guest to the show. Welcome Katy. Thank you so much for being here.

Katy Bowman: Wow! Great intro. Thanks for having me. I feel like I haven’t done very much this year, but I don’t feel like that anymore! {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Right! Sometimes, you just need somebody else to list out what you’ve got going on.

Katy Bowman: Absolutely!

Liz Wolfe: Give yourself a little pat on the back there.

Katy Bowman: I will! That was great. Thank you.

Liz Wolfe: If I haven’t covered all the bases already, I would love for you to just cover a little bit about your history, how you became so fascinated with the work that you are doing now. Give us a little insight into Katy’s world, and why you do what you do.

Katy Bowman: Oooh, okay. Well, you know, I guess I’m just the regular run of the mill nerd. I always have been just interested in how things work, so that is where my mechanical interest comes in. I have always been, like, a tinkerer with different things. But, my biological background I’ve always just really been interested in complicated systems. You know, trying to integrate lots of different information to see how it all works together. So, biology is a really great complicated system to evaluate. You guys do a lot in the nutritional world, and you can see how vast; how many variables there are when you are just thinking about health, and food and diet’s role in health. But, I’ve always been more of a mechanical, like physical science person, less of a chemistry type person, so I’ve always kind of, my filter for everything is like, what is the lever system? What is the actual Newtonian physics of what is going on here? That just seems to be kind of how my mind works. When I was in college, you know, I was a math person. I never thought that I would be a writer, because I was a horrible writer.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Katy Bowman: I guess the fact that I am not a horrible writer is still open to debate.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Katy Bowman: {laughs} You know, writing on the blog is nice. You can just publish your own stuff. You know, I just got interested in math and physics first, but it got kind of boring, because there are no real world examples. You know, you are working with point masses and strings and stuff. I’m pretty grounded, just like, I’m looking at a tree, and I want to know why the branches are shaped that way, and you need to have a background in math and physics, but you’d never actually get to those questions. You know, the way our education system is set up, its like, yup, school for 10 years before you can ask anything interesting. So, I switched, and started studying kinesiology, or within the kinesiology department, a field called biomechanics, which is taking all of my previous math and physics training and applying it to the body. I think that is where I found my home, because I just like… I mean the body is something that you have. You wear it every single day. There are all these little issues that come up through our whole entire life, and its just fun to troubleshoot them. When I went to graduate school, I was most focused on disease. I’m really preventative minded, and again, this is probably just more my interest in looking at systems. It’s like, why are we breaking down? Is breaking down like this or is this glitch in my physical performance something that is preventable? Is it something that I created on my own? I realize now that I had been asking those questions for a long period of time, but only when I started working with people. You know, you work with a ton of people, teaching them exercise, and you know when you have clients, they come in, and everyone just seemed to have something. Its like, oh, I have sacroiliac issues, or I have these trick knees, or I have this. You see so many bodies, day after day, and its kind of like that 10,000 rule; once you’ve done something for 10,000 hours, you just start seeing it in a different way. It just comes a little bit more rapid. So, when I went to graduate school, I just started studying where disease comes from, and realizes that there was a whole lot of information about where disease comes from that is not mainstream, even though it is in the literature. So, there are all these people in labs and in, you know, huge libraries writing stuff down that I thought the public should know about their health, like, the way you position your foot when you walk affects the load in your knee that ends up leading to osteoarthritis. I was like, someone should tell people this, because I know 40 people who would be interested. Eventually, I just became that person.

2. Alignment with regard to modern health issues: [9:08]

Liz Wolfe: What has really enthralled me so much about your work is that so many of the things that you talk about, I mean, cardiovascular disease, like you were saying, osteoarthritis, these issues that I always considered as being primarily nutrition modulated, I feel like I was just missing this entire piece of alignment and the work that you do. But you actually talk about being just completely wrapped up in those types of modern health issues.

Katy Bowman: Yeah. You know, I think … everything that we get now in terms of health information seems to be filtered through the medical community, which is, that just seems to be the standard of, we accept what this position is. But, that is a group of people that have very little, if any, mathematical or physical training. So, when you look at a problem through a particular filter, when you are looking at it from a perspective of, you know, eating, or what do people do all the time. And we do look a little bit at movement, but its like in a really gross kind of way, which is, what are the metabolic outcomes of exercising or not. You know, you are looking at insulin; you’re looking at blood sugar. You are looking at everything that your doctor looks at when you get a blood lipid panel, and those were the only standards for really evaluating something. And, there is this whole other filter, which is loads, which is what is happening when you are exercising on every level, to your arms and legs but also to your bones to really transfer down to what is happening to your cells, every individual cell, when you do a series of particular movements. What is really becoming clear now is mechanical loads to the body, which translate down to mechanical loads to the cells, are perhaps the precursors for genetic expression.

Liz Wolfe: Hmmm.

Katy Bowman: Meaning, like, you don’t even need theoretically to have a chemical precursor. So, it’s not that the chemical, you know, the chemical, the nutritional precursor is not influencing genetic expression, but that mechanical loads are precedent. Like, they are preceding those. So, you could, for example have… I like to use bone. I use bone a lot because bone seems to be where most people are schooled in enough to understand. You can have all of the perfect profile nutritionally of all of your minerals, all of your macro and micronutrients, you can take a population that’ got everything, but they will have really sucky bone density, if I can use a clinical term.

Liz Wolfe: Please. Absolutely.

Katy Bowman: {laughs} You don’t have a mechanical load precursor. So, you can be throwing excellent nutrition and do all this work of shopping and preparing all of your own food, but if you don’t have the loads that your cells need to do anything with the chemical signal, then you can’t have the robust health that you are after.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my gosh, that is so… you just blow my mind. All the time. What is so fascinating about that to me, is going back to some of the interactions that we’ve had with the Weston A. Price Foundation, they emphasize movement a little bit, posture a little bit, but they mostly emphasize nourishing the body with food, and nourishing with food, but what you are saying is that there is an entire nourishment precursor of kind of a precedent, a set of conditions that we need to establish to even be able to make the best use of food nourishment.

Katy Bowman: That is so well said, I might just ask for that sound bite and you can now represent {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: Sweet!!

Katy Bowman: Everything that I do, because that is really what I’m trying to say over and over again. Its like, movement for some reason, there is so much inertia.

Liz Wolfe: Yes

Katy Bowman: Its like, it is so hard to move, and we’ve gotten it so good on food, and food has become so dialed in in the last 15 years. I mean, we are really starting to understand the difference between more nutritious than what is politically endorsed. You know, we’re just kind of going, okay, there’s this big pyramid of what everyone needed to eat and it got more and more refined, and then you just add more variables to assess something by it, and it becomes more clear, kind of, you know everyone is using the term blueprint, but that is basically what it is. It’s like, what are your, not your basic requirements, what are the fine requirements?

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: Because you get the basic requirements, and it turns out its not really good enough. Its like, okay you need to eat. Alright, well I have calories. But my calories are coming in from really crappy sources. Its like, okay, well you don’t just need calories, you need calories and these nutrients. But then it turns out you don’t just need calories and these nutrients; you also need a quality of carbon, or freshness. Like, there are so many variables in a complex system of biology that any time you try to simplify it or make it easier, you always end up leaving something out.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: That is where the ancestral health platform comes in, which is the convenience, you know, what we’ve done to make things more convenient in every sense of the word, is kind of what is leading to our demise, and its the thing that makes our life less convenient, which is, you know, how we feel when we have a problem that we are trying to deal with. And so, movement… if I can do my job correctly over the next 20 to 30 years, I am hoping to entirely redefine movement at the level that nutrition is currently defined at with all of those variables, where people understand the nuances of loads and cellular outcomes and how your physical shape of your body, the literal physical shape of your body, correlates to the metaphorical shape of your body and how those are completely, you are completely malleable.

Liz Wolfe: Malleable…. My jaw is on the floor right now.

Katy Bowman: See? Malleable. I don’t know. I don’t know a lot of words, but I know numbers.

3. Physical nourishment [15:08]

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} I think that is actually a really good segue into my next question, which is like, so we don’t actually have to be superhuman genius biomechanical mathematician physicists to bring this nourishing your body with movement with proper loads and how we are moving and how we are aligned. We don’t have to be crazy specialists to bring this kind of into our lives. You say, you know, I think I know the answer to this because I actually noted a quote on your start here page at Katy Says that says “Do not be so paralyzed by all of this information to move incorrectly, that you don’t move at all.” So I guess nourishing your body with movement just starts with, maybe getting off your butt?

Katy Bowman: Yeah! I mean, it’s like… I talk about food too because people get food. Its like, you know you read this whole nutritional profile, and you’re like, great! I’m going to throw out everything that I know how to eat and cook, and I’m going to start eating this way, and it’s like… well, you know. It takes a long time to learn how to work with different ingredients. So you slowly transition. When you are working with a biological system, you have to remember that you have adapted to what you have done before, and so you’ve got basically chemical happenings in the body that… you are used to secreting a certain chemistry, and when you radically change it, it’s like, it’s a load that is so great for your body. So, I use, you know I wrote the book on feet, and transitioning from stiff, high footwear to something like a minimal, like a Vibram or an unshoe or something like that, and everyone whipped off their heels and wants to go back to flat, because they get it, but its kind of the same thing as coming out of a cast and thinking that you want to start training for a marathon.

Liz Wolfe: Hmm.

Katy Bowman: You have never even loaded your foot before. You’ve done nothing with your foot. So there is a respect for where you are right now, and you know. I like to present the ideology of, you know, here’s the pure line of behavior that we would be going for, always putting underneath that that we live in a modern world, so trying to duplicate purely what we know of, you know, thinking about ancestrally, isn’t always feasible. So what you are always giving and taking is like, what is most possible now. And you also have to go, okay, looking at my body right now. You know, when you do something like wear a positive heeled shoe for a long period of time, you don’t just have tight muscles. You have actually lost the number of sarcomeres, which are the tiny pieces that make up a muscle. You don’t just have a tight muscle, you have a muscle shorter. Your body went ahead and ate up the rest of those sarcomeres, because if you are never going to use them, it’s not going to expend energy to maintain them. So when you put yourself in a shoe that requires calf length of having your heel on the floor, now you are actually doing a cycle of damage. So, it is always progression. With biology, just always think small, tiny steps. I always liken it to training for a marathon from getting up off of the couch, you know.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: You start by just walking a little bit, for a short period of time. And you don’t need to go right into running to become cardiovascularly strong to run a marathon. Any movement helps. So, yes, if you’ve been sitting down, just standing up, for example, is a whole unique load. Instead of sitting in your chair, sit on the floor. So, there are small, small changes to the numerous variables of a load, and there are many of them that can get you a step closer to where you are. It’s not about throwing off your clothes, and moving into a cave, and

Liz Wolfe: {Laughs}

Katy Bowman: You know, never going to a gym again. It’s more about learning how things work, and then you can make the decisions about how you want to structure your life that works for your life and works for the health that you are seeking.

Liz Wolfe: Small bites.

Katy Bowman: Small bites.

Liz Wolfe: Its really… I see this, you know, your just opening up these mental doors for me, because this is something I’ve seen in what I’m doing now, which is starting this kind of, you know, what we hope will be like a small farm, sustainable homestead deal that we are doing. I have had to learn, and this is just so applicable to nutrition, and it is applicable to movement. Like you said, respect for where you are, plus patience and persistence for where you want to be. I just, I have no choice but to take this whole homesteading thing bite by bite, probably doing it really poorly at first, but all we have is time, and just that steady work, small bites towards where we are trying to go is so much more effective long-term than just banging your head against the wall trying to make sweeping changes all at once that are, you know, in many ways counterproductive.

Katy Bowman: Yeah, and you can’t make a sweeping change. A sweeping change to biology has a lot of damage that comes with it.

Liz Wolfe: Hmm.

Katy Bowman: You are going to pay a biological tax. And you know, farming is like a … you are trying to get more from the ground, and it’s used to doing a certain thing before. Anytime you try to change a biological system it takes, you know, it takes a while to adapt and respond. But what I don’t want people to forget is the minute, the second, the nanosecond that you do anything different, you’ve already improved the situation. So, you don’t have to wait a long period of time for improvement, even though you would have to wait a long period of time, perhaps, to see the desired outcome that you have selected.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: Its like, if you, you know, if you have been sitting on the couch for 20 years, and you’re like “I’d like to run a mile,” it might take you, you know, 3 months before you hit the goal of running a mile, but it only takes you one second to make your health better.

4. Sitting, standing [21:11]

Liz Wolfe: That’s…. I love that. I’m going to take that sound bite, actually, and steal that. So, a quick tangent with regards to all this stuff. We were talking about, instead of sitting in a chair, sit on the floor. So, how are you sitting or standing… what are you doing right now?

Katy Bowman: Right now, I am kneeling… like, just sitting on folded knees on the floor in front of my computer, which is sitting on a desk that has a lower level as well as an upper level where I could stand if I wanted to. So I can sit on the floor, I can sit on a ball. I actually don’t have a chair, but I do have a crate. I could sit on the crate if I want to or I could stand. It just allows me a lot of options for when I need to be doing my work.

Liz Wolfe: So, one of the videos I watched recently was your tour of your house. And you have very little furniture, which I thought was just fascinating. You know, actually right now, if this gets me any points, I’m actually sitting on the floor.

Katy Bowman: Cool.

Liz Wolfe: I was standing earlier. But there is a real kind of obsession right now in this community with standing desks, or you know, make sure you are standing more than you are sitting, or whatever. I tend to like to sit on the floor versus standing, but what is your take on what we should be doing more of, whether it is sitting on the floor, standing, moving around, dancing, whatever it is?

Katy Bowman: Okay, this is great, because I just got done. I’m working on the big book about moving, basically moving your DNA around through loads.

Liz Wolfe: Uh-huh.

Katy Bowman: So this is what I just wrote. I’m not going to read it; that would be boring.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Katy Bowman: You know, you saw that sitting kills research, right? Sitting is the new smoking, sitting kills, you know. Sitting ____ despite the fact that we exercise. So meaning that, even if someone has a regular healthy exercise program, it does not decrease the risk for death if you have this large bulk of sitting that you are doing. So, what everyone did was of course very similar to, that joke, you know that joke, “Hey, I heard all accidents happen within 15 miles of my house so I decided to move?”

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Katy Bowman: Its kind of like that! Its like, hey I read that sitting kills, so I decided to stand. So, what people missed with that research, including, you know, all the people who reported on it is, its not…the position of sitting, if you break down sitting, the term sitting just into geometrical position of the hips, the knees, and the ankles, so I always say, give yourself a body constellation. Put a star at all your major axes. That is your body constellation. And then look at how much time you actually spend in that same constellation. So, most people sit in the same constellation because we have so many bucket seats, and your couch or your favorite chair at home, the chair that you sit in to eat, the car that you drive in, and the desk that you use at work. It’s not the sitting. Meaning, there is nothing really wrong with that joint configuration. It’s the high frequency of that joint configuration. So, swapping that joint configuration for a new joint configuration will buy you some improvement, because it is a change. But, say we, as a culture or even as a country say, okay, eventually there are no more desks; everyone is going to stand. What you are going to find is a whole new set of injuries that come from standing all day in front of your computer. Because it’s not the position, it’s the high frequency, the high repetition of the same position. What you need is constantly varying joint configurations because that is what pumps and moves your blood around. That is what is singling the mechanoreceptors. Mechanoreceptors, which are the parts within the cells that sense the load, are very much like a sponge. So if you squeeze a sponge and then let it go that gives the cell, or the sponge in this case, a context of, it can measure how much you squeezed it, how fast you squeezed it, did you only partially squeeze it, or what not, and it converts that information about the squeeze, all the variables about the squeeze into what it is going to do, how it is going to alter its behavior. But, if I squeeze a sponge completely and then hold it within my hand, I am not longer able to load that cell, or that sponge, right?

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: You have to agitate. You have to release it, and then do something with it again. So mechanoreceptors need to be refreshed.

Liz Wolfe: Up down, move.

Katy Bowman: It doesn’t matter. You can… there are all sorts of loads. There is a compressive load. There are tensile loads, there are shear loads. There are torsional or twisting loads. Any way that you can agitate a sponge, you can agitate a cell. So there are lots of different types of loads, so not only do you need to have cycling loads, you need to have loads that are varying. Meaning only doing compression all off the time isn’t as good as doing compression sometimes, and tension sometimes, and shear sometimes. Like, your cells and every tissue has a different requirement. Every tissues has a different breaking point of what types of loads it can handle better than others and those loads, the types of loads… well, the theory is, if you are going to use the evolutionary biology model, is the types of loads that the cells of your tissues, all the various tissues, require match up best to the loads that are created through natural movement done in the frequency that it would have been done. So, I like to delineate between natural movement and natural movements, with an “s”.

Liz Wolfe: Ohhhh.

Katy Bowman: So natural movements would be, you know, you could create a list of everything that the human does naturally. Its like, okay, we climb, you know, climb a tree. We can run, we can walk, we can squat, we can, you know, jump or whatever. These are all natural. Where you could come up with a list of unnatural movements. You know, you can walk on a treadmill, you can, you know, push a dumbbell over your head, or whatever. You can make that list, you can separate that. But natural movements, with an “s” is not the same thing as natural movement, which is, it is done in the order or the frequency that you would find it in nature. So a squat is a natural movement, but doing 200 consecutive squats would not be Natural Movement, like capital N capital M. A squat is just one movement teased out, but the order in which it is done affects the outcome that you would get.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: Like, you would get a different outcome were you to squat you know 7 or 8 times throughout a day as opposed to squatting you know 20 times in a row. Or even if you took the same number and did it in a row versus spread out through the day, the cellular experience is different because the period of refreshment in between load affects the organization of the cells.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my goodness!! So many followup questions.

Katy Bowman: Oh my god.

Liz Wolfe: Oh my god.

Katy Bowman: {laughs}

5. Exercise and movement [28:37]

Liz Wolfe: So, lets bring this to what we were talking about before, which is the intentional exercise that we all obsess over. So whether its Crossfit or going to yoga or “going to” exercise, rather than just making that a part of your day, which is so… nobody cares about what I have to say right now because we have Katy Bowman on the podcast, but I’m going to say it anyway. With all of the homestead stuff, I notice myself doing all of these things that I used to do in Crossfit, or that I still {laughs} occasionally do in Crossfit, whether its kind of a clean and jerk motion to get something up off the floor to the top thing in the barn, or I’m squatting down to pick up, you know, a bug to throw at the chickens, or whatever it is, I’m doing all of these things throughout the day, I recognize the movements but they are being done in a totally different pattern than when I was going to Crossfit for an hour a day. So, I guess what I want to ask about, kind of your opinion on different workout modalities versus actually applying these different movements to your movement throughout the day. You know, what would be your preference. Yoga, running, wrestling, break dance fighting, or a completely different way of looking at how we move and how we stay healthy through movement.

Katy Bowman: Um, well, you know I get a lot of like, what’s your opinion questions

Liz Wolfe: Yeah.

Katy Bowman: Its hard for me to give an answer because my opinion on something depends on the person asking, the situation the person is asking is in, and also what their desired outcome is. So it’s kind of like, “what’s your opinion of bread?” Its like, well, it’s like, for …

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Katy Bowman: Is someone starving, am I going to say “Oh, bread is bad.” Okay, no, it’s not bad in that case, or is the bread made out of alternative flours? You know, you can nuance a question, and that is really the only way I can evaluate something.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: But I know what you are asking, and my platform is specifically a body that lasts; not lasts as long as possible, but lasts so that your physical experience is not muddled with chronic pain, injury, and disease. Yet, you are still able to achieve the things that you need to do. And, my way of looking at the body goes beyond the musculoskeletal. So, any disease that you have, even if it falls under, kind of that genetic category, looking at any disease from the standpoint of, how has your sum total of movement contributed to your physical experience. So, you know, when you talk about exercise, I have a big semantic explanation of the difference between movement and exercise. Exercise is but a small bubble within the Venn diagram of movement, which a much larger bubble around exercise, and so doing something as an exercise, it already kind of lends itself to a problem in terms of frequency of load. So, I don’t exercise. But at the same time, of course I exercise.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: But, I would say that semantically, I make a conscious choice not to exercise. I do make a conscious choice to…and I love all modes of traditional exercise. I’ve been a fitness instructor; you know, all my studies are in the exercise science arena. I taught biomechanics for physical therapists at the university, so I understand the whole mode of corrective exercise. I have done triathlons, I’ve done half-marathons, I’ve been a runner, I’ve been a walker, I’ve been a hiker. I love it all, but if you are trying to pick a particular mode that gets you to better health, there isn’t one particular mode. There is not one particular superior exercise program. Because really, what I have kind of seen is that most exercise programs, especially when they are pretty organic, meaning they are not using a ton of stuff or equipment, they are like one nutrient. They are one group of nutrients. So, I love yoga. My husband is an Ayurvedic practitioner, so I’ve always loved yoga. I like them all, but I would say if you are looking at one, or two, and trying to pick up the one or two to do for that period of hour so that you can have better health, you are going to missing the point of what I’m saying, which is, there is nothing.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: There is nothing that you can do over a period of an hour or 70 minutes every single day. Even if you did it every single day, like what’s that, 60 minutes times 7, yeah, you know, less than 500 minutes a week, you are adapting to what you do 10,080 minutes a week.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: So there is nothing really… you are under loads all of the time. So your body just takes the shape of what you do most of the time. So I’m a big walker. Right, you know.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: I’m a big walker, and I walk instead of use my car as much as possible. So, I try to move to get things done besides just movement. Like, that’s what you are talking about, you know, if you go to a Crossfit gym or a workout gym, you’re like, I’m setting aside this time to train, but when you go to apply it, you are going to do so many of the same joint configurations but over a period of a day, and you are not necessarily thinking about exercise while you are doing them, you are thinking about, I got to get the hay down, and I’ve got to get the goats rounded up. Or, you know, whatever.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: I haven’t stalked you nearly enough.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Katy Bowman: To know what you are doing.

Liz Wolfe: You’ll be disappointed, don’t worry.

Katy Bowman: Yeah, there you go. But I think the cross-training, in general is the point of view of how do you get better. Well, you do yoga, and you do walking, and you can do Crossfit, I don’t want to bag on Crossfit because I think Crossfit has really got some of that best underlying understanding of varying….

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: Varying your movements and making them much more, like, not along an axis. Can I say something else? Am I allowed to say something else?

Liz Wolfe: You can say anything you want!

Katy Bowman: Thanks!

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Katy Bowman: Well, there’s a big, in the natural movement community, which I assume that you have a lot of listeners and you also have the alignment community, and the alignment and the natural movement community a lot of times will come head to head because the natural movement community’s perspective is moving along an axis or a grid is not natural, right? You wouldn’t have these real precise movements that you learn if you go to yoga or Pilates or if you are doing just basic alignment exercises.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: And then alignment people, on the other side, are going, how else are going to know how your body moves or doesn’t move if you are missing something or not. And so, really I see both of these groups are correct. Because, here’s the thing. YOU, and I’m standing up now, just in case you couldn’t hear in my voice; you, and I just pointed at the computer, You are not simply an out of shape version of your natural self. You’ve completely morphed shapes based on your experience over the last 20-30 years. Meaning, if I put you down into a bed and you just grew up, and you just laid in bed the whole entire time, and then you have the experience that you had right now, and then you had the experience of growing up completely sans modern convenience, you would not look the same. Any of yous. You all would look different. Because your actual bone robusticity, which is the density and the shapes morph to your behavior. So, doing a lot of things naturally when you take a body that has all of these weird morphing adaptations to prolonged periods of sitting; you’re missing muscle lengths, you’re missing neurological frequencies in between different parts of your body, and then you try and take it out and just start natural without going through that natural period of development, there are holes that you are building strengths upon. And so what I love about alignment type of movements is when you have a grid or an axis, you can see where you are. You cannot work around these holes any longer. And when you do your alignment work in conjunction with your natural movement work, the outcomes are really, really great. And that is what I’m working on now, is the book that kind of says, your going to take your old body and you are going to kind of natural it up by putting it on a graph and seeing how your feet and your gait patterns and your knees and your hips have adapted to not squatting, and wearing shoes, and sitting, and work on that, and at the same time, you’re going to get out and start walking to more places, but there is a way that your hinges would point were you not to be in shoes and chairs and whatnot. You are going to have to take some of what you learn in the alignment world and put it over into your natural movement world, and that way you can get some of those injuries that we are seeing coming down. And then you are working towards creating more loads all day long, which is really. You need movement. You need movement more than you need exercise.

Liz Wolfe: Its like, applied awareness, I guess.

Katy Bowman: Applied awareness, that’s great.

Walking [38:30]

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Oh my gosh, we have some great questions lined up that we haven’t even gotten to yet, and a couple of them touch exactly on what you were just talking about, but I’m going to have to see how I want to pick all these out. I want to talk about walking. Because, I stumbled across your work at a pretty cool time when I was actually all of a sudden realizing that my daily walks were making me feel extraordinary compared to everything else that I was trying to do in the name of being healthier, or looking better, or whatever it is. And then all of a sudden I find this genius that is talking about how important walking is, and you know, Dianne and I have started to tell people, go walk. Go take a walk. It’s going to change what you are dealing with hopefully, and whatever. So, let’s talk a little bit about walking. Tie it in with whatever you want, but the importance of it, and why.

Katy Bowman: {laughs} Well, you know we talked about that body constellation, right. You know, I think most people got that.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: So if I were to plot an ancestral human, their body constellation would be varying quite a bit. You would see a ton of joint configurations and loads on those joint configurations that you just don’t see today. And so that’s kind of like the platform of cross-training. Its like, you need to cross train because ancestrally we would have gotten a lot more joint movements and loads, so let’s get those. And that is right. But, if I were to pull out the most frequent of those points, and analyze them, what you would find is, probably, because we can’t do it because there are no more of those populations, but probably due to anthropological and biomechanical data based on looking at bones and whatnot, the frequency that they would be in that cycle of gait; you know, so you take a step and one arm is behind you and one arm is out in front of you. If I were to plot that cycle, it would probably be the position that would be the most frequent. The cycle of movement, that would be. So, walking is something that creates loads that are necessary for this cellular organization that we are after. So if walking is what we would have been doing most frequently, and not that it is the greatest load or it is the greatest feat of strength that you would find, but in terms of frequency, which is a very important variable when it comes to cellular organization, walking would be the most frequent. And so what you have done by just adding a small walk is stimulated all of these systems in a way that they kind of have a requirement for. You know, things like, you know we think of the heart as pushing around the blood, but really you’ve got skeletal muscle that upon stimulation pulls the smaller blood vessels open to bring blood into the capillaries, so our whole way of kind of understanding the body is based on a nonmoving population.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: So walking stimulates so many mechanical signals, so many mechanical sensors at once that, I like to say, its kind of like a huge {exhales} a huge breath of relief that your body gets.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: So, you have a physiological level of stress when your cells are not getting the load that they need because your organs cannot function. I mean, everything depends on load. So you’ve got all of these systems that are dependent on stimulation, and yet we are still so much of the time they are struggling to work without the context of a load. And so you get, you know, your cellular regeneration is just off slightly, and so your cellular behavior is just off, off from biological basics. You know, movement is just as essential. It’s like, if you haven’t eaten for 3 days, and you were like lying on the floor, it’s like, I feel like crap, what should I do? Its like, well, you should eat. We know that you are going to feel like crap if you don’t eat. What we don’t know is you feel like crap because you don’t move, and the movement is very specific that you need.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: And so walking is just one of those things. Everyone can do it. And we do a shockingly small amount of it, I’ve found. I mean, you live rural, in a rural area, and so do I. I realize a lot of people are like; I can’t walk because there is all this danger and chaos and weather and whatnot, and then you’ve got people in New York who live in an urban jungle who walk all the time. So, you’ve just got to find a way to get it. It doesn’t need to all be at once. You don’t necessarily need to go for an hour or a 2-hour walk. Even though, again, looking at that historical data, you would have been covering 5-10 miles a day on most days, just ____ to those cells between walking, always walking 3 miles, always walking 4 miles, and taking 4 one-mile walks spread throughout the day. There is a difference in cellular outcome. There is a difference in metabolic outcome when you do it differently. So, I think if we can get away from the exercise paradigm of, oh, Liz said I should go take a walk so I’m going to walk for an hour, its like, sometimes an hour is so hard.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: In a day, but 10 minutes is pretty easy. 7 minutes is pretty easy.

Liz Wolfe: Walk out to the barn and back. {laughs}

Katy Bowman: Yeah. Everyone’s got a barn, right?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah, everybody’s got one. You know, its interesting though, there are challenges to the rural environment as well. I used to walk out my front door and take the dog on a walk around the block, and here, I’ve got a dirt road where people zoom by super-duper fast. There are no sidewalks. There are ticks everywhere, and so I really am kind of, {laughing} walking to the barn and back quite a bit.

Katy Bowman: Yeah, and I think also its just such a foreign concept. I’ve spent so much time, you know I have two kids; a 2-year-old and an almost 1-year-old, and so right now, of course, what’s in my hyperconscious is where is this stillness being perpetuated? Where does the stillness start? And I can really see now that culturally, we are training our children for stillness day one. Like, we ourselves have been trained to be still. And you always feel most comfortable; in terms of behavior, we feel most comfortable with what we know the most. And you know, we could be the exercise kids, but its kind of like when we check off that exercise box, its like, oh we went outside and played for an hour, and that’s great we don’t want to take that away, but like an hour compared to 8 hours of movement doesn’t look so good on paper when it comes to the body. You know, the tissues of the body.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: So its just about moving more in whatever way you can and just try to figure out how to get those few extra steps in is going to be life transformational, you know.

7. Movement in kids [45:37]

Liz Wolfe: Okay, so I’m going to ask a question about kids, and then I’m going to pop back to adult walking. I’m so excited about what you just said because I have a question exactly like right along those lines, and of course now I can’t find it. But the idea was, we basically are training kids to sit still. Sit still in this chair, and then go over here and sit still over there, and whatnot. So as far as kids moving, I think you kind of touched on that, but if there is any kind of wisdom you want to impart to folks about keeping their kids moving, and maybe not sitting so much. And also we had a question from Facebook about carrying babies; dangle baby backpack type wearing and that type of thing as far as the spine for babies. What are your comments on all that good stuff?

Katy Bowman: Oh, well, you know, I just presented on this at AHS13, which is Ancestral Health Symposium, and so when that comes out, you can actually go watch a large chunk of it. It’s nuanced, so…those are all called devices. So there…you are just trying to figure out, like, how does a device affect cellular organization, which is another word for development. How do devices affect it. And, again it all comes down to loads, and the frequency of a single load. So, our babies are exclusively held, meaning that we carry them in arms. So, attachment parenting, which I would say that I am an attachment parent, attachment parenting is a whole bunch of things that come along with trying to keep your kid upright and held onto the bulk of the time. And the difference between attachment parenting, in general, and non-attachment parenting would be larger periods of time with the child on the floor, whether they are on their back or on their front, they are moving maybe some parts but they are not moving as many parts. So you already have a big difference between those two, mostly the vertical position of the head, right. So in one case, we’ve got a kid whose head is basically inline with the floor, and then when your other child is upright, the kid’s head is perpendicular to the ground. And a vertical head holding is supposed to be kind of that first milestone that they get, and its a lot easier to get when they are being held upright from day one when their head is the smallest and the lightest that it will be as opposed to what we tend to do which is put them down for a long period of time and work on small motor grasping and pulling things. So, I recommend, as much as possible to use no devices whatsoever and carry. It is not convenient, I will just say it right off the bat, disclaimer; its not convenient, its not easy, but its not to say that just because its not convenient or easy that it is not natural, meaning found in nature to hold your baby upright as much as possible. So, I spent a lot of time, as kind of my commitment, its also kind of who I am, to make sure that my kids had as much exposure to the natural mechanical environment as possible. So, no shoes, being held quite a bit of the time, not prolonged periods of time on the ground. I also did a lot of the infant exercises type stuff, because I’m trying to help them get to where they are walking and able to maintain or manage their own mass as soon as possible, which is the way it is found traditionally.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: In hunter-gatherer cultures. And you know, I just posted a picture of my 11-month-old. She is starting to do her hanging and swinging from bars that she just kind of does on her own, and I notice a lot of people commenting, its like, this is great, you can see how kids will find their own way. You don’t have to spend a lot of time teaching them. There are a lot of movement classes for kids where you are trying to teach them stuff and how to do stuff. There is difference between trying to teach a kid something, and also making sure that you are not… you are always teaching them something.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: And a lot of times we are kind of teaching them how to not move very much by the environment that we create for them. Whether we are doing it on purpose or not. So, walking is the thing that I recommend getting your kids to do as soon as possible, and I find that carrying them in arms instead of devices; of course using devices, you know, like straps and Ergos and Mobys and all that stuff, you use them when it is necessary, but it is about the frequency. You know, some people are like, what about a jolly jump, or what about this. There’s nothing inherently bad or wrong about any device, it’s about the frequency. I think that a lot of the devices come with a; this is a superior position for which your child should be developed, its like ergonomically better. Its like, you know, if you do it this way, this affects their hip joints, and if you do it this way its better for their spine. But that’s really kind of that old, ergonomic mentality. You have to remember that ergonomics is a science that is based on keeping people in one position for a long period of time. What is the best way to be positioned if I am to be positioned and fixed for a long period of time? So that foundational premise is already kind of incorrect. There is no superior way to be positioned that is better than any other way; the whole problem is being positioned in one single way. So, carrying or using a device or cycling through devices is most helpful because then you are getting that refreshment of mechanosensors. You are not restricting a child’s movement, right? If you are carrying a kid, and the kid wants to turn around, or get up, or change arms, you are going to naturally switch them because they are kicking or moving. You just interfere less with their natural impetus to move without anything. Of course, again, it’s not easy.

Liz Wolfe: And you are also connecting with their natural desires for movement in that context.

Katy Bowman: Yeah. It’s like baby-led weaning. Everyone is kind of like, oh you want to wean your kid when they are ready. It’s like, you are not teaching your child to move by providing them a context in which they can move as much as they want. We do the opposite. It’s like, putting a child in something that restricts them, it just kind of naturally…it’s the same thing as putting them in a chair at school. We are slowly, over time, starting on day 1 interfering with their natural mechanism to develop robustly. We all come with software. We all come with reflexive software that gets us moving right off the bat, and there are ways that it is cultivated now in hunter-gatherer cultures; I’m not sure if it was cultivated back then or if it was even more part of the natural environment. But if you don’t restrict a child the types of movements, the period of time in which they hit their milestones is much different than in children who have had restricted movement.

Liz Wolfe: So part of the way you have made your personal environment conducive to a different take on movement for your kids is to not have a lot of furniture hanging around. Is that part and parcel?

Katy Bowman: Yes, the furniture is like ice cream. If it is there, you will have it. So I don’t keep junk food in the house for kids, and I don’t keep furniture, because the outcome is the same. I mean, what’s wrong with junk food? Junk food makes people feel better, and there are a lot of positives that people would list for their junk food, and then right next to it are a lot of negatives. The negatives tend to be more longterm; the positives tend to be more short-term. Same thing with the couch. Its like, it just feels so good to lie down on a couch. I love couches. I love them, and I don’t have one here, because I have so little time to get all day movement, if I had a couch in my house, I would be removing the hours that I sit on the floor, which are… people go to yoga class to sit on the floor.

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Katy Bowman: People go to yoga class to sit on the floor, and sit in 17 different ways, and it would never occur to them to just do that at home spread out through the day and get the same result. In fact, probably even get a better result because they are doing it more frequently.

8. Junk food walking [54:06] b>

Liz Wolfe: So let’s talk about junk food, and maybe this even translates into this frequency idea. You’ve talked about junk food walking, and this is several questions that we got through Facebook for this podcast is your thoughts on the trend of treadmill desks. Maybe it is an issue of frequency and it is good for folks that have desk jobs 12 hours a day, going straight through, and need a little extra movement. For others, maybe its just junk food. What are your thoughts on that?

Katy Bowman: Well, I call junk food movement, and I don’t mean anything bad by that. Because, like I said, all junk food means is it has short-term positives and longterm negatives. You can probably find a lot of whole food that, taken in small frequencies, don’t have as many negative repercussions. So it’s the same thing. Treadmill walking would be a junk food version of walking, because there are parts of walking on a treadmill that lead to negative longterm outcomes in terms of motor recruitment, the types of loads that are created. So, like, walking on the ground, if you had always been walking on the ground, for example, requires what is called a posterior push off. Meaning, you fire in series, your glutes, your hamstrings. You get a lengthening that happens to particular muscles, and you get a shortening that happens to particular muscles. And since all those muscles are connected to lots of different things, all of those actions that happen when you are walking over ground affects something else in the body, and not always musculoskeletally, meaning that part of the mechanism of keeping your organs up inside your body requires this overground posterior push off of walking. When you get on a treadmill, because of how the machinery is designed to make walking feasible in place, it reverses this natural mechanism. Meaning that even though the limbs are doing something that looks kind of similar, what is happening on the cellular level is reversed. So, you are actually firing muscles in the opposing direction. And so, the net effect of tensions and what gets circulated and what levers get triggered are not the same in treadmill walking as overground walking. So, again, it’s like, what is your opinion on treadmill desks, its like, it just depends on the person. It depends on the frequency.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: It also depends on what two things you are comparing. If they are only able to walk on a treadmill desk, and the option is treadmill desk or nothing, then metabolically it might be better for you to walk on a treadmill desk. You know, if you’re going to have a stroke because you have been fixed in one position and this is a huge solution for you, then that is great. I don’t have a problem with that. But, if you are kind of going, well, you know, I walked on my treadmill desk today for a couple of hours so I don’t need to go take another walk, then you’ve missed a nutrition profile from that overground walking that you can’t get any other way. So, you are in a nutritional deficit.

Liz Wolfe: Hmm.

Katy Bowman: By walking one way or the other. And then also, you have to kind of keep in mind that the patterns or the loads that you create sustain themselves with that treadmill walking. So it’s kind of like, the reason I’m so…you know, I’m not really extremely…I’m persnickety when I write because I want to make sure that people understand the mechanism. What people chose to do for their behaviors I don’t care. Anything that you do, any small change is fine. Like, I’m not really recommending behavior or condoning behavior, I’m just trying to explain how something works. Someone has, you know, pelvic floor issues, and its like, I don’t get it. You said to walk, and I’ve been walking on my treadmill desk all the time and I notice my prolapse is getting worse, or my incontinence is getting worse, and it’s like yes. Because the nutrient that you are consuming, the side effect of that nutrient is a decrease in pelvic floor strength. So, if it was put in terms of that; it’s like, warning, this treadmill has a side effect of decrease in pelvic floor strength, then you would choose things a little bit differently. But because we don’t have those in-depth movement nutrition profiles of what is going on in all these different types of movement, because we just kind of put all movement into “this must be good for me” that we are having the ailments that we are having right now and not understanding how movement is just as nuanced as like…the way a pill, if you take a pharmaceutical, it is targeted specifically to create a certain outcome, and movement is that nuanced. The type of movement that you choose affects very certain local tissues in a particular way, and doesn’t affect other things. So all movement is not inherently good for the longterm. Or, all movement is inherently good, but all movement is not without a biological tax, is probably a better way to say it.

Liz Wolfe: So, what I love about all of this is that its kind of like, not so much, here’s a prescription for you and every single person that has a question for you, its, here’s the information, what do you think.

Katy Bowman: Yeah, and its not even… I mean, its what do you think, but it’s also, you have to evaluate it based on the goals that you are after.

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: You know, if you have a job that requires that you run 10 miles, then you have to run 10 miles on a regular basis. And I’m starting to see this a lot more, too, I think in paleo and ancestral literature, where they are starting to say that the tradeoff for performance is longevity.

Liz Wolfe: Right.

Katy Bowman: So, that’s cool. But a lot of people do not understand that. That is not being said to a lot of different people. And we have a lot of professionals who are teaching people stuff who have no business doing it because it will make them less…I don’t know if its less healthy, because I don’t know if you could quantify how an improvement one place versus a detriment elsewhere, but we have musculoskeletal issues, we have issues with our health, like, I don’t digest things very well. I have all of these problems, and we are not seeing the relationship between that and movement. And if people would just learn a little bit more about biomechanics and the way movement affects us and how. You know, I don’t expect people to… I mean, I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I have 10 years at university plus an additional 10 years of just self-guided professional learning. You’d be surprised what you can learn in a couple of hours to go, I get that! You know, just reading the blog.

Liz Wolfe: Yes.

Katy Bowman: People, just, Oh! Like, reading my blog is written for the layman. It’s written for the layman’s child. Like, its just really simple mechanical arguments where people can kind of go, that makes sense. I can stand with my hips in a different way and be decreasing the load on my SI joint, and before I was standing like this for 10 hours, and now I stand like this for 10 hours, and I’m already better. So sometimes it’s not even about not standing still, its just about how you stand still.

Liz Wolfe: And that was going to be my next statement, was that, you have this blog. You’ve also encapsulated this blog in, I’m looking, 440 pages of a book with an index. The blog itself has a search box. So, you know, we’ve got a ton of questions lined up for you, and we are running out of time here, I’ll just try and keep you for another 5 minutes if you’ve got it.

Katy Bowman: Go for it.

9. Movement and digestion [1:01:56]

Liz Wolfe: So, check out the book, check out the blog. All of this is fascinating, but what you do with the blog and with the book is you boil it down to practicality, and information that everybody can apply. And like you said, you know, I’ve done some tiny self-corrections just when I’m standing, and before I could have stood for 10 hours without making that small correction. Maybe I make the correction and slowly drift into, you know, the not so good territory after that but at least I’ve made that correction based on what you’ve written. You know, your videos that you’ve done, which are incredibly helpful, so there is a ton of information about that if people are hungry for more. Go to the blog; get the book, Alignment Matters. I just want to ask you a couple more questions, and you know you can answer as short or as long as you like. You touched a little bit on digestion, so I wanted to know if you could expand on that a little bit. How digestion and movement affect each other. And then, the question I’ve been meaning to ask this entire time is, what is so important about the pelvic floor?

Katy Bowman: {laughs}

Liz Wolfe: {laughing}

Katy Bowman: Okay, well lets go with digestion first. So, you know, in the basic mechanical model, you’ve got food that you’ve taken in, and the food is moving down and through its processes until it’s eliminated. And so, that is a mechanical process in itself. But, that mechanical process of digestion lives within the mechanical container that you control through somatic movement. So, your whole abdominal layers, the pressures that you create via your diaphragm, the way you breathe, the position that the constellation, specifically the trunk, in which all of those things are contained. All of those ways that you move or don’t move your trunk creates loads or pressures that are placed directly on your digestive tract. Right? Does that make sense?

Liz Wolfe: Yeah. Absolutely.

Katy Bowman: So, when you think about that, its like, okay well we have all these habits. We have a habit of sucking in our stomach, right? Which is something that we do for vanity sake. And sometimes we don’t do it for vanity sake; sometimes we think that we are supposed to suck our stomachs in to stabilize our low back because we confuse transverse activation with lumbar stabilization. We have an arbitrary relationship with core strength. What is the appropriate physiological amount of core strength, when is it enough, when is it too much, when does it start to interfere with our foods downward movement. So if you are sucking in your stomach, you are creating an upward force, you are actually pushing, or stagnating the food that is trying to move down, which then interferes with that foods time that it spends within your gut, which means that the breakdown processes are not happening at a natural rate, because that rate is being interfered with by what you choose to do. In the same way, a lot of people in the birthing community, its like, hey, when you give birth, it is more helpful to be vertical as opposed to lying down on your back, or heaven forbid, lying down on your back with your hips higher than your head. Well, the same thing goes for food. What is the consequence of sitting after you eat for 6 or 7 hours. What is the consequence of not adding that gravitational load or those rhythmic core contractions that would be contributing to the movement of food. So, that is kind of, in very general terms, just one of the ways that how we move our body ends up in creating forces that are occurring at an unnatural rate or at an unnatural magnitude or size.

Liz Wolfe: Man. I could just have you talk all frigging day.

Katy Bowman: That’s what my husband says.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs} Mine too, right?

Katy Bowman: {laughs}

10. Pelvic floor [1:06:13]

Liz Wolfe: So, pelvic floor primer. And I promise I will let you go. This is something that is pretty huge, right?

Katy Bowman: Sure.

Liz Wolfe: In your world and what you try to communicate with people. So, what is so important about it, and why should we, you know. I mean, just get the damn book, everybody! It’s in here.

Katy Bowman: Well, you know, the pelvic floor is the bottom. You don’t actually have a bottom of your trunk, right. You’ve got a big hole in your pelvis. If you put your two hands together, and make like the letter C and a backwards C and put them together, you’ve got this hole there, in your skeleton, and the only thing that is closing that hole, for both men and women, is their pelvic floor. So the pelvic floor, we have to simplify it to talk about it, but it is extremely complex. It runs front to back, it runs from the front of your pubic bone, it attaches to your tailbone. It goes out to the right and to the left and attaches to the tops of the heads of your femur. So a pelvic floor problem, when you have an issue with what the pelvic floor is doing, it can manifest itself in so many different ways. It can be digestion, it can be things specifically of what you think in your pelvis, like your sexual organs, men and women reproduction, anything of the whole pelvic girdle, sacroiliac pain, you know that low back pain, and also issues of the hip and psoas. If your hip is clicking, if you are having spasms in your psoas, if you have like labral tears, like all of these things are affected by a pelvic floor that is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. And what it is supposed to be doing in its most simple sentence is responding appropriately to the loads that you create. It is not supposed to be this super strong, tight muscle that is gripping all of the time. It is supposed to be flexible and supple like all of your other muscles, only its work is pretty continuous as long as you are upright, and it is supposed to be adapting and strengthening, and it has a particularly nuanced way of connecting to everything where that, for some reason…its not for some reason. I know the reason, but I’m not going to explain because it’s too much for the last few minutes.

Liz Wolfe: {laughs}

Katy Bowman: The pelvic floor is one of those muscle groups that is not easily corrected by gravity. So I use the example of your bicep; you know, when you pick something up with your arm, you don’t have to have conscious control over your tricep to put something back down, right. So gravity really lends us to not having to think about moving lots of things back. You can slowly let your arm back down via gravity; gravity provides that kind of impetus or that signal, to be like, “aren’t you tired of holding it up here? Why don’t you put that back down.” And so you are able to lower it. But the pelvic floor does not have that relationship with gravity because of the way it is oriented, so the pelvic floor really depends on natural movement to keep its natural health up. And so, in a society that has almost no natural movements or movement, it is taking the greatest beating. And with it, is organ prolapse and prostate cancer, and you know any pelvic floor disorder, general incontinence, painful periods, and infertility, or the inability to deliver vaginally. I mean, all of these things that are basically the essence of who we are as a species are under the gun because of our lack of natural movement. Because this pelvic floor depends so much on it because it can’t use gravity in the way that everything else does. That is kind of why I write so much about the pelvis. Because, 80% of the population of men and women have a problem with it. And, I see a lot of times a lot of these pelvic issues being explained nutritionally,

Liz Wolfe: Mm-hmm.

Katy Bowman: Which there absolutely is a component of everything, but we are kind of missing this main mechanical argument of what is going on, which is the pelvic floor requires, it is not optional, a certain frequency and way of moving that we don’t have. That is why you see squats coming back. You’re starting to see people talking about, “hey, you’ve got to start using a squat toilet, because if you don’t, it lends ourselves to all these problems later on in the future.” So it’s definitely catching on; again, in 20 to 30 years, I’m hoping that this is just all kind of basic standard stuff where it’s like, you have to get your movement nutrition or else your going to fall apart, or something like that.

Liz Wolfe: Alright, well. Now, if anybody is wondering about anything that we’ve talked about in this podcast, go over to the blog at http://www.katysays.com/. I mean, in this book alone, there are like 15 separate references to the Kegel; “Kegel, Kagel”. So if, you know, I mean we’re talking about everything that we do, everything that we’ve kind of taken for granted, everything that we think we need to be doing, it’s all… I mean, the information about why or maybe why not is absolutely just blows my mind. So, I mean, if you are addicted to, struck by, or even mildly interested in what we’ve been talking about today, check out this book. The book is Alignment Matters. You can go to http://www.alignedandwell.com/, see everything that Katy is up to. Go to http://www.katysays.com/, which is the blog, and you can get to where you can order this book. It starts shipping on October 1st, is that right?

Katy Bowman: Yeah, and actually it will probably be out the week before, because we got it sooner. They turned it around quickly, so we’ll probably start shipping; you’ll probably have your copy by October 1st.

Liz Wolfe: Fabulous. Just don’t; don’t miss this book. This is; I mean, truly. Just fangirl talking here. This is just extraordinary stuff, and it just opens up a whole new world of opportunities to be healthier, and more efficient and more effective in your everyday life. So, this is just fascinating. So, Katy, thank you so much for everything that you put out there, and for your willingness to come on and share some knowledge with us today.

Katy Bowman: Well thanks, Liz, for having me. I had a great time, and I always appreciate anyone who wants to talk to me.

Liz Wolfe: Yes, and you know, we’ll probably have to beg you on again, because we have a ton of questions that I know we touched on, and for folks that feel like they want a little more information, like I said, it’s on the blog, its on the website. It’s out there. You’ve put out an incredible volume of work over the last 5-10 years. This book is the first 5 years of Katy Says. So, for those of you who like to have an actual physical book in hand, this is the place. If you want some instant gratification, go to the blog, and we’ll do our best to beg Katy on the show again at some point. So, thank you so much for coming on, and that’s it everybody. We’ll be back next week with more questions. Until then, you can find Diane, my usual cohost, at http://balancedbites.com/. You can find me, Liz, at http://cavegirleats.com/. And of course, you can find Katy at http://www.alignedandwell.com/ or http://www.katysays.com/. Thanks for listening everybody.

Diane & Liz

  • Ankita Tiwari

    Thanks for the post. I enjoyed it.


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  • Danielle

    Oh my goodness. What a FANTASTIC podcast. I have been listening to balanced bites for under a year (I caught up pretty quickly) and have loved the new perspective it has given me. I have never commented on a podcast but I can’t help myself for this one. I LOVED it. I was introduced to Katy Says through Liz I am pretty sure and also fell in love with her blog. I studied exercise physiology, but Katy gave me a whole new perspective on movement, I love it! Listening to this podcast was really a Ah Ha moment for me (one of many, and not the last I am sure).

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