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TMHS 689: The #1 Stretch To Do Daily, Preventing Tech Neck, & Upgrading Everyday Movements – With Katy Bowman
Movement encompasses so much more than just exercise. Movement involves our anatomy, alignment, functionality, and even our quality of life. Even if you’re not someone who loves practices like running or going to the gym, quality, intentional movement is essential for your body’s overall function.
On today’s show, biomechanist and bestselling author Katy Bowman is back to share principles from her new book, Rethink Your Position. You’re going to hear how to transform your daily movement practices in a way that improves your functionality and enriches your life. Katy is a proponent for intentional movement, and a strong believer that movement is for every body.
You’re going to hear about how our sedentary lifestyles and technology-heavy culture impacts our bodies, and simple habits you can implement to improve your functionality. We’ll talk about how movement can improve your resiliency, enhance your relationships, and so much more. As always, Katy’s insights are both enlightening and inspiring. Excited and honored to share this conversation with you!
In this episode you’ll discover:
- What tech neck is.
- How to use a head ramp exercise to improve your posture.
- Why your movement and functionality can impact your relationships.
- How movement impacts your quality of life.
- What it means to be a chair athlete.
- The truth about sleeping positions.
- What it means to rethink your position.
- Why physical fitness is about much more than appearance.
- What movement hunger is.
- How your fitness level can make you more resilient.
- The relationship between your ribcage and your pelvis.
- How individual movement patterns and gait accents develop.
- The number one exercise you should be doing regularly for cardiovascular support.
- Why walking is the best exercise for fitness.
- The powerful benefits of changing your position.
Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!
Shawn Stevenson: Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is fitness and nutrition expert Shawn Stevenson, and I'm so grateful for you tuning in with me today. Did you know that just like we have accents with our speech and language, we also have accents with our movement as well. That's right, we have movement accents, we have gate accents when we're walking, that is a reflection of the culture around us. We pick up our accents, which are actually movements themselves, to have an accent or to evoke speech, we have this intermingling of our throat, of our mouth, of our tongue, there are so many different body parts that are working together to create sounds. Now the question is, how much diversity do we have in our movement? Alright, so we can learn a different language, but physically, we oftentimes get constricted and get drilled down into one certain culture or one certain movement pattern, and we oftentimes don't realize it because, again, it's just what we're picking up from the world around us. This is just one of the things we're going to be unpacking today with somebody who has been such a huge inspiration in my life when it comes to movement, functionality, and performance of the human body.
There is no one better. We're going to be covering some game-changing insights about the health of your neck, and this new phenomenon in our culture called tech neck, always looking down at our devices, what is that doing to our spine, what is that doing to our functionality? What can be the long-term ramifications? With the caveat that humans have been looking down at stuff for a long time, so what's so different about today when being on our devices? So, we're going to cover that. We're also going to be covering your sleep position and does that have any ramifications on your overall health? Which is super interesting because we spend so much time in bed, we've got about one-third of our lives are spent sleeping, so could our movements during sleep or our habitual patterns during sleep have outcomes when we hop out of the bed in the morning? We're also going to be covering one of the most overlooked influences that our muscles have on our overall health, and I'm telling you it's something that I personally did not think about until our special guest said it.
And that's the thing about her, she tends to say things that changes my life, changes the way that I see the world, and I'm very grateful to have her in today and to share this incredible conversation with you. Now, just like we have nutrients from the external world that we put in our bodies in the form of food and beverages, we also have very important movement nutrients, and that's one of the concepts that our special guest help to popularize and to push into popular culture. Now, with that said, we've got our movement nutrients, but our nutrients from our food and what we're drinking obviously has a huge impact because these are the things that are making it possible to move because it's making up what our cells are made of, alright? It is that important to be more intentional about what we're putting into our bodies.
Now, if we look at one of the long-lived movement-rich cultures, we're talking about one of the cultures that has the most centurions, people living to be 100 years old and beyond with not just extended lifespan, but health span, still being able to contribute to society, being able to dance and to work and to walk and to enjoy more vitality later in life, that's where we can get a glimpse of when we're looking at some of these long-lived cultures, like cultures in Okinawa for example. Now, within this culture and many cultures in Asia where green tea has been so prominent, we also see startlingly low levels of cancers, and there might be a reason why. A study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment found that women who drank the most green tea had an approximately 20% to 30% lower risk of developing breast cancer. Now, this is an observational study, but the results are promising. Even more interesting, a meta-analysis of 29 studies published in a peer-reviewed journal, Oncotarget, found that people who drink green tea daily were around 42% less likely to develop colorectal cancer, alright?
So, there's something really remarkable about compounds found in green tea. Now, this speaks to how compounds in green tea have notable anti-angiogenesis properties, meaning that they're able to cut off the blood supply selectively to cancer cells and essentially starve cancer cells from being able to grow and to replicate. Now, this is just one aspect of the health properties that we can extract from something like a green tea, but to take it a step further, the impact that it has on our cognitive function is really well-noted in peer-reviewed data. A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Brain Topography found that L-theanine which is very rich in green tea increases the frequency of our alpha brain waves indicating a state of flow. We've talked about flow recently and how flow relates to longevity as well with one of the foremost experts in the world on the subject, Stephen Cutler. But one of the things that helps to activate the frequency of alpha waves in our brain is L-theanine. It is also indicated to reduce stress, enhance our focus, and even increase our creativity. Now, there is a certain type of green tea that is even more rich in L-theanine, as a matter of fact, matcha green tea, Sun Goddess matcha green tea is shaded 35% longer for extra L-theanine, it's crafted by a Japanese tea master and there are less than 15 in the world.
And it's the first Matcha that is quadruple toxin screened for purity, no added anything. No preservatives, no sugars, artificial whatever, none of that stuff, just the highest quality matcha green tea that you are going to find. Head over and check them out. It's at piquelife.com/Shawn. That's P-I-Q-U-E-L-I-F-E.com/Shawn. Get access to this incredible matcha green tea, as well as their incredible BT fountain beverage all together in this healthy skin kit, because green tea is also being added to a lot of skin care products out there topically, but internally it's even more remarkable for our skin health. So, we've got some wonderful packages there for you with some bonus items, like one of them, you actually get a free frother, and you also get exclusive savings when you get one of their unique bundles. So again, the very best matcha green tea on planet Earth is from Sun Goddess matcha green tea from the incredible folks at Pique Life. That's P-I-Q-U-E L-I-F-E.com/S-H-A-W-N for these exclusive kits and savings, and I think you're absolutely going to love it and add this to your longevity protocol.
Now, let's get to the Apple Podcast review of the week.
ITUNES REVIEW: Another five-star review titled “Brilliant, by 11 got 11. “Brilliant man with a peaceful voice on a mission to change the world, sharing his wisdom and magic to us all, blessings.”
Shawn Stevenson: Wow, amazing. Thank you so very much for sharing your voice and sharing that review over on Apple Podcasts, that really hit my heart, I really, really do appreciate that. And without further ado, let's get to our special guest and topic of the day. Our guest today is biomechanist, best-selling author, speaker and leader of the movement, Katy Bowman. Katy teaches movement globally and has written nine previous books on the importance of a diverse movement diet. And her latest book, Rethink Your Position is one of my all-time favorites. Katy was named one of the Maria Shriver's architects of change, and she's worked with companies like Patagonia, Nike and Google, as well as a wide range of non-profits in other communities sharing her move more message, and now she's here on The Model Health Show in person, in studio with me in LA, and I'm saying that because Katy is one of our most frequent guests because she's one of my favorite people and favorite teachers in the world, and we've done this virtually so many times in the past, and so to have her here is really special, and I think this is absolutely going to blow you away, so let's dive into this conversation with the amazing Katy Bowman. Eight years. Eight years.
Katy Bowman: Eight years.
Shawn Stevenson: We've known each other, but this is the first time that we're seeing each other face-to-face in the real world.
Katy Bowman: Right. I've been seeing you from here, up only.
Shawn Stevenson: From the chest up.
Katy Bowman: From the chest up only on the computer screen, you are so good to give you a hug. A real hug.
Shawn Stevenson: I know, I'm a real person.
Katy Bowman: You are a person.
Shawn Stevenson: I'm not deep fake...
Katy Bowman: No, I had to verify though, like I'm going all the way there to verify, you are real.
Shawn Stevenson: Even call me where you're like... Just down the hall like, "Okay, Shawn I'm here."
Katy Bowman: I'm here.
Shawn Stevenson: I don't know if you're real or not, but...
Katy Bowman: Get ready.
Shawn Stevenson: It was so good to see you, and I'm a huge fan of your work. And this new book is very needed right now, to put it bluntly, I want to start off by talking about this new phenomenon in our culture called tech neck.
Katy Bowman: Tech neck.
Shawn Stevenson: And what are the implications that it has for us as a species.
Katy Bowman: Well, tech neck is just that curve, that forward curve of the upper back that is all looking down, and you can go anywhere, a restaurant, concert, you can even go to places where you're supposed to be looking at something else, you've paid to look at something else, and people are looking down at their phone and their upper backs are curved forward, and then their necks are curved in opposite direction, and that's a human posture we used to see in people who are a lot older, as the result of many decades of the weight of your head being under gravity and slowly curving forward, but now what makes it a tech neck, it's being practiced more regularly with the younger generation. And then you adapt. You adapt. My big point is always like you're adapting to everything that you do all the time with your body, and this is just in the same way sitting in a chair does a certain thing to your hips and knees, we've got this now device doing something to our neck, the one difference is the chair forces you into a 90-degree hip and knees, you can hold your hand for your device in a lot of different ways, but we just don't really think of...
We don't really think at all, we just go to the device and then there's just the resulting posture. So, I'm not really sure what it's going to look like. This is the first generation, as much as it seems like tech has been around, we can't really live without our smartphones, it's like 10, 12-year-old phenomenon, it's not that old, and...
Shawn Stevenson: Versus hundreds of thousands of years of humans in this current form...
Katy Bowman: That's right, that's right, or even 40. Or even your grandparents. You know what I mean? It is sudden onset, it's like sudden onset tech neck forward flexion. So, what I try to outline is, you've got swallowing going through there, you've got breathing going through there, you've got the discs in your spine that are affected by that position, the nerves, any tissue, really, in your upper back and neck, and then you have bone. All of these tissues and processes are in this new environment of tech neck, and we'll see what it looks like, they're already different, not so much public health, but probably more in the medical community starting to see more complaints of different things that arise with this particular habit and are going, adjust your posture. And there's been a number of articles just talking, again, is there better ergonomics we could have when we're using our phone, because it seems like using your phone less is maybe off the table, but you could also just put your phone down and do something else, so yeah.
It'll be interesting to see if the environment of tech neck is going to be talked about in the way that we say that sitting is the new smoking, like I wonder if tech neck is going to have its own day with headlines such as that, it's like, oh, it was more harmful for our body than we knew.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, like being on your phone is the new hunchback Of Notre dame.
Katy Bowman: Yeah, yeah, it's just... It's just...
Shawn Stevenson: 'Cause we're going to have that muscular development too around this, around this kind of movement or form that we're putting ourselves into as an adaptation, I would imagine, as well.
Katy Bowman: Well. And I think the challenge, you know, people have been putting their head down to do stuff for a long time.
Shawn Stevenson: Right, reading, 'cause I think about that, you know?
Katy Bowman: Tech neck is book neck. It's knitting neck. It's sewing machine neck, it's woodworking neck, it's working on your car neck. The problem is in the volume. It's the number of minutes or dare I even say hours that we're doing it, and it's also the context in which it's happening, which is we're not really doing anything else with our body, so if your primary exercise program, if you will, is being on your phone, meaning you do that for six or four or eight hours a day, and if you look at even your devices at work versus your actual exercise time, which is like 45 minutes or 60 minutes, you are exercising tech neck more than you're doing bicep curls or other things with your body, so in a different environment, looking down so often might not even result in tech neck 'cause I guess the question is, it's not really clear if tech neck is the position that you're in when you're on your phone, or if it's the adaptation to so much time being on your phone where it's harder to get out of that position. I would sit in a chair, my knees and my hips go to a certain position, but if I get up out of it they're not in that position anymore. So, what's the big deal?
It's in the hours and years and decades in a chair where when you get up out of the chair, you're not really getting all the way up out of the chair, you might be upright a little bit, but your pelvis is sort of... Has adapted to make sitting easy for you by never letting that really get loose, never really letting your spine uncurl all the way so tech neck could also be thought of as the more permanent remnants of so much of that positioning, and that's going to be the thing that comes back to bite us in the butt.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, as you said, it's only been about a decade that we've been doing this, and had this habit, and so to see what this generation, our kids especially, what they're going to look like, their functionality, their form, their adaptation from that position. But yeah, it's kind of scary and weird, but at the same time, you are pointing to some potential antidotes.
Katy Bowman: True.
Shawn Stevenson: Or movement nutrients, and one of them is the head ramp.
Katy Bowman: Right. The head ramp.
Shawn Stevenson: Could you describe that.
Katy Bowman: Well, I love the head ramp, so like I said, your technology does not depend on you being slumped forward to look at it, it works no matter what position you're in. So one, just know that the head ramp is the very simple exercise of sliding your head back away from what you're looking at and lifting the top of it up towards the ceiling, so if you just grab your phone for a second or mine that is in your hand and look down at it, your head, which is pretty heavy, is out in front of you and tipped forward, so the head ramp is the opposite motion to that, you are bringing it back so that it sits over your shoulders. And you are lifting the top of it up towards the ceiling, but without raising your chin. I think a lot of times when your head's down and forward, you think, oh, I'll bring my head up, but now you've added a second bend in the neck, and so more than just lift your chin to bring your head up, I'm asking you to bring your whole... The whole noggin back to the wall behind you and up towards the ceiling, and that takes care of both curves in the upper back and the neck at the same time.
Shawn Stevenson: Is there like a physical cue we could think about with our head?
Katy Bowman: Yeah, if you just touch the top of your head and think of pushing, if you leave your finger there and then push your head up against it, that's a really good way. If you like to use the wall, you can go up and stand against the wall with your shoulder blades against the wall, keep your ribcage down, and then try to bring your head back to the wall behind you, and you might find that your neck is tighter, your upper back is tighter than you thought, and you could do both at the same time, bring your head to the wall behind you, and then push the finger that's on the top of your head up towards the ceiling and you're moving in two planes at the same time.
Shawn Stevenson: And you detail this wonderfully, and there's so many cool visual cues and physical cues for us, and since reading your book, Rethink Your Position, pick up a copy today, I've been doing these things, even today I was on a stationary bike, and I thought... Now, because I'm aware of it, I think about what is my head position, and again, there are going to be certain positions that we're in that it's not going to be "perfect".
Katy Bowman: No.
Shawn Stevenson: But we can get ourselves in a more ideal position and also that's a movement input that it's going to be balanced by other things, versus, like you said, historically people are sewing, wood working, reading, but then there was a much more movement-rich environment outside of that, now we're spending hours upon hours on our devices like this with a very low movement input culture on top of that. And so having some simple remedies like this are important, and the other one that I've been adding to the mix is the chicken head, and as soon as...
Katy Bowman: Love chicken head.
Shawn Stevenson: As soon as I read that part, I'm like, "What is she getting into with the chicken?" Because from where I'm from, chicken head means something else, I don't know.
Katy Bowman: I don't even know what it is, but should I look it up or no?
Shawn Stevenson: It's this like kind of a... It's a hood. It's a hood chick.
Katy Bowman: Okay.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, so...
Katy Bowman: A chicken head. All right.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Shout out to Project Pat. Anyways, but chicken head, your definition in here is something different and incorporates some really interesting movements that just makes you feel better.
Katy Bowman: Yeah. Well, mine's based on just having chickens. And chickens have this, if you ever pick up a chicken, you can move a chicken around, but its head stays still, and they have tremendous neck mobility. And so yeah, it's this idea of taking yourself more regularly through your next range of motions. And so, like what all the things that chickens do, the main one is they move their head forward and back, so our head forward. But there's a balancing move to that, and that's sliding it back. And then there's just the idea of stretching your neck to the right and to the left, and of course, turning to the right and to the left, and dropping your right ear and the left ear. And then of course, there's sliding your ears to the right and to the left. And all of these are movements that you would want to happen between your head and shoulders. But we don't have, really, very much that's facilitating these movements any longer. And then combined with the phone, now we've got something that's facilitating one neck position over and over and over again.
So, chicken head is this invitation to explore eight more neck motions to balance out maybe the one that you're overdoing. Or like, when we talk about movement nutrients, the one movement nutrient you're overconsuming, you're overeating forward head. So now we need to get these other neck motions into your movement diet. And then just like all nutrients, you're better for it. You feel better for it.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Please, I want everybody to really listen to this because we don't think about these things until a problem occurs.
Katy Bowman: Right. Always.
Shawn Stevenson: And a lot of folks are dealing with random neck issues. If you're not giving these inputs in controlled things, situations that you can actually have some input and like put yourself in these dynamic positions so that when it comes to a situation where your neck is moved suddenly, or you do a certain thing, like your neck has been there before, it has a little bit of a memory of being in a different position. But oftentimes we're just kind of stuck in a certain position for most of the day. And so, giving us these movement cues and these inputs is super helpful, especially now.
Katy Bowman: Yeah. It's about resiliency in the end. Our culture doesn't really require much movement. You know, there's not a lot of movement demanded out of us on a day-to-day basis. And so, we can do well in society without moving, but biologically we stop doing as well, which eventually can trigger... It can trickle down to how well you feel, being unable to perform in society. And that means even like showing up for relationships, right? When you're in chronic pain it's hard to show up for other people when you're sort of nursing yourself in your head. It's hard to be in pain and engage outwardly because you're using a tremendous amount of energy and focus on coping. And so, resiliency, I don't only mean physical resiliency, I just mean the ability to engage in something that suddenly comes up. And that can be, we usually talk about accidents. Like you trip on something, you're in an unexpected situation that moves your body differently, that it doesn't do tremendous harm. Illnesses come up, life comes up, deaths come up, other problems. And when you have... When you're more physically resilient in this way, when you move more of your parts, you can respond to that trauma, whether it's an accident, even something like a car accident, right?
Like even something that is large. You aren't taking like the stiffest least mobile version of yourself to everything else that you do. So, it's a little bit different than a fitness reasoning for exercise. It's not mutually exclusive. It has all the fitness benefits too. But I think as we see fewer people be interested in moving their bodies, trying to talk about it in a different way of just getting more out of your daily life is how I want to frame it, how I want to frame it now. Which is why we got to move our necks like a chicken sometimes.
Shawn Stevenson: You mentioned this a little bit earlier, about even sitting in a chair, we're never just really sitting there. You know, we're still being moved. We're moved in a certain position and we're adapting to that. Our bodies are trying to become efficient at the things that we are exposed to, I believe probably most often. And can you expand on that a little bit more? Because when we have a body that's very good at chair sitting, it might be, and I'm saying this sarcastically, it might be compromising your ability to do other things, right? So, if you go from that sitting position, sitting in a chair for whatever, eight, 10 hours a day, and that's not farfetched by the way for most of us, and then you suddenly want to go to Disneyland with your family and you find like, wait a minute, I'm not really physically equipped to do this thing without pain or potential injury.
Katy Bowman: And that's what I've been trying to get across, I would say, throughout my entire career, is like we definitely have this idea of like, I'm in shape, I'm out of shape, I'm fit, I'm unfit, I'm moving and I'm not moving. It's more accurate to say that you're actually always moving, you're always moving, and you're always adapting to the movement that you are doing. This is chair movement that I'm doing right now. And so, if you could add like a dash movement to everything, this is bike movement that I'm doing right now. These are driving movements. These are office movements. This is shopping movements. So, if you start thinking about my body is responding to what I'm doing right now, and then you pair that with a tenet of just exercise science, which is you adapt to what you do most frequently, we're all sort of... I've said this before, we're like the ninjas of sitting.
We're chair athletes, and in athletes, like if you think about athletics, really good athletes have specialized in their sport and they've adapted their anatomy and their physiology sometimes growing. They've grown more muscle mass, they've grown more capillaries, sometimes they've twisted... There's been twists, you know, professional baseball pitchers will have actual bone formations that they have created through the way that they are playing that makes throwing easier on their body to a certain point. We are chair athletes. We are just really great at sitting. And one of the reasons we have a hard time doing other things is because we are the best at this physically, we have the anatomy, we have made the anatomical adaptations for this. To do other things would require more capillaries, more range of motion. And so, when you're like, oh man, I really want to just start moving more, just realize that that's what you're working uphill against, is just you have chair anatomy right now.
You want to figure out whatever it is that you want to do. You want to do this, you want to... Maybe you want to go on a backpacking trip or maybe you want to, there's like a cool hike in your town that you would like to do. Or maybe it's, you would like to be able to go to Disneyland, but you know it's a physical event. It's Disneyland movement. What does it entail? Seven hours of being on my feet. You know, like break everything down into the movement that it entails. Remove all the judgment about where you are right now and how hard it's going to be. And then you're like, I need to start training the anatomy to be able to do that thing. And then it's like, okay, well, I'm using the back of my chair right now as I'm talking to you. Maybe I'm going to still sit with my hips, but I'm going to change my torso sitting anatomy so I'm holding myself a little bit more. 'Cause when I'm standing at Disneyland, my torso's going to have to do that. I don't even have to get out of my chair. I can still work, I can still watch Netflix, I can still do this podcast with you, but I can also use more of my musculature to hold me up right now.
And once you start thinking about it that way, it's like, yeah, I just have too much chair anatomy. I want whatever other anatomy. And then you start picking the body parts or the... Break the final thing that you want to do into the movements that it entails. I have to put something on my back. I have to carry something in my arms. I need my shoulder to be able to stretch this way. And that becomes your training program.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. And we will find also in the... Here's the really interesting thing, is that we will find, if we're acclimated to more movement inputs and then suddenly, we are constricted and have to sit still, our body's kind of resistant. Right? So, like, I was just on a long flight, you know, it was a four-hour flight, and I start to become very antsy, sitting there in place. And so, I'm like... And you know, we can throw this term on there, but fidgeting, but in a cool way. Right? So, like, I'm lifting one leg up into the chair, switching the other leg. I'm sitting up straight, I'm just moving back and forth my shoulders, just getting little inputs here with movement, of course standing up a few times getting something. I purposefully don't take everything out of my bags, so I got to get up and get a few things.
Katy Bowman: Bending down to reach.
Shawn Stevenson: Go to the bathroom. And I do not recommend going to the bathroom when you're going through some rough clouds. All right? By the way.
Katy Bowman: No turbulence and bathrooms don't really go hand in hand.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. I mean, I'm like...
Katy Bowman: Well, just like just shifting my position now as we're talking, you know, just... And that's good body communication. That means you're listening. You're listening.
Shawn Stevenson: Right. Right.
Katy Bowman: And we're not really trained to hear movement hunger signals. We know hunger, hunger signals 'cause someone usually helped us with that. Oh, you're not... You're feeling a little cranky. Your blood sugar's low. Here's something to eat. You need protein. Right? We have all these specialized, certainly parents might be a little bit more practiced in helping another human learn how to read that. But movement hunger, we don't use that language. And that's a big... I want more people to realize that they are in a relationship with their body and it's communicating with you and the skillset, just like all relationships is to learn how to hear what it's saying a little bit better. And respond accordingly.
Shawn Stevenson: Well, being that there's another activity that we spend about a third of our life doing, we might want to pay a little attention to this. And it's the act of sleeping. So, I know people ask you this a lot, but is there an ideal sleeping position?
Katy Bowman: No, there's not any, I don't think there's any ideal position for anything humans do. You know, even the fact that humans go through so many different stages in their life, stages and ages of our life that call for us to do different things physically. Like just for example, like having younger children. Like your sleep's definitely going to be different during that period of life. That all being said, I apply the same philosophy to sleeping movement, which is you probably need more like movement diversity in your sleep than you're even getting in through the day. And so, like one of the examples that I use is, we use a lot of props in our sleeping to prevent movement. And it's a little tricky because we're like... We're both in under moved culture and yet we're also in under rested culture at the same time. Like, what is it that we're actually doing? So, we don't get a lot of rest, we don't get a lot of freedom from input. So, I think a lot of ways we use our sleeping time is to try to nourish ourselves with sort of comfort and reduction of input as much as possible. So, it's kind of hard to introduce this idea of, well, you might need more pressure on your body.
So, if we just go back to how humans sleep all over the... How humans have always slept physically and how many humans now in the world still do sleep, it's using usually much less padded surfaces and then all that padding does is tend to hold you in a single position. It removes not only like full body joint positions, but also things like pressure. You know, we've become unaccustomed to pressure. Everything's pretty cushioned. We have a lot of cushions in our life. That's the bulk of what the infrastructure is, is like reducing environmental pressure, full stop, with weather, temperature, noise, and then sensation, just the physical sensation of it all. So, I sleep on like a really minimal surface, like some sheep skins, like on the ground with blankets and everything else. But one of the reasons that transition worked for me is 'cause there was just movements that I couldn't get to at enough volume. And I changed my position of sleeping throughout a bout of sleeping, but not really in a conscious way. Like I'm not waking up and going, oh, that hurts. Now I have to flip over to this other side. It's just more like the way my dog does it.
You know, sort of it's just gentle shifts throughout that are unconscious to me. But there's a part of me that's always reading what my body is doing. And so, I make... It's not fitful sleep by any means, but it is more dynamic probably. And then I'm just receiving a lot more pressure on the way my... The muscles, you know, like a massage service comes and pushes on you, floor does that to you too. If you ever get on the floor and roll around, then imagine what that's like for eight hours.
Shawn Stevenson: In the book, here's a direct quote on this topic. You said, "There is no ideal sleep position in the same way there is no ideal all-day position."
Katy Bowman: That's right.
Shawn Stevenson: Right? And so, you just brought up something, and you do this... Every time I talk to you, you change my perception of reality. And you just mentioned all of these different environmental inputs that we evolve with. And essentially, we've insulated ourselves from them. And a lot of times these environmental inputs evoke movement, they evoke some kind of an adaptation for us to kind of adjust to that input. Whether it's heat, whether it's cold, whether it's being on a certain surface and your body telling you to adjust and to move. Right? And that movement isn't just movement. There's a chain reaction. All the cells in your body are connected and in communication. So, when we're sitting on the floor and even taking this just from the sleeping position to just sitting on the floor more often.
Katy Bowman: Sure.
Shawn Stevenson: That really encourages you to change positions. So, I might sit and have one knee pulled up close to me, the other leg extended, after a while, my body's going to say, change positions, move because it doesn't feel comfortable. There's an environmental pressure for me to adapt. And every movement now there's a little change that's happening, like with my lymphatic flow, with my circulation. There's all these other really important things for... I'm not going to say for our survival, we can survive under really strange conditions, but to really be more optimal and dynamic. Right? But if we take those things away, and we are like you said, in these cushy positions, cushy couches, cushy mattresses, and all the... This is the thing; we're not trying to take these things away.
Katy Bowman: No.
Shawn Stevenson: These are things that we have access to, but it's also being honest about what is this taking away from you that you might want, you might want access to some kind of more resilience or capacity that you're taking away. Because our society, and I learned this from you, we've done things, most of our innovations are taking away movement. Most of our innovations are creating so much convenience that we don't have to do much.
Katy Bowman: Right. And I don't think it's about taking them away. I just think that we're not always sure about the impact that... We have exp... There's a problem we're trying to solve. I think a lot of people are like, we have problems that we're trying to solve in our lives. And a lot of times we're not aware of what it is that we're doing on a day-to-day basis that's contributing to the thing that we're trying to solve. And people are spending time and money trying to solve the thing. And comfort, you know, like... I don't want to take anyone's comfort away. I like being comfortable, and frankly, being so comfortable is where you're freed up in your mind to be able to innovate and create and do art. And so, like there's benefit to it. It's just that at a certain point the comfort becomes so ubiquitous that it begins to create discomforts in other places. Right? There's always like a tipping point or a moderate point that is like the right amount for the thing. And so, we are definitely now in a place culturally where... We're at the point with comfort so much that now there's like a new category of research and things that now we need to figure out how to do is like, now we need to have like grit. Like now we need to figure out how people can get more gritty and how can we raise our kids to have more grit?
And meanwhile, the entire house is like marshmallow pillows. And then now we got to go do a ropes course so that we can... Now we got to install ropes courses and buy the ropes course and get the grit training. And it's like, I am all... I'm like a minimalist and I am all about efficiency. And I was like, I don't want to go to the ropes course for grit. We're sleeping on the floor, everybody, and it's free and you can do it all the time and you can add more blankets when you need to. And so, it's just more like that. It's like, yes, we need grit because we had too much comfort. But there's a really great bit of research on the fact that humans, when they're solving problems, tend to always want to add. They don't want to take away to solve the problem. And we can look at it and see what it is later on, but they had a bridge maybe made of Lego that was imbalanced and a bunch of different engineers coming in to try to solve the problem. And it was always, well, let's add more to this leg. It was never, well, let's just remove the two high side on one side and then boom, now it's balanced.
So, we have to-do lists, we don't have to undo or not-do lists, and I have just, in the last few years, found a lot more of the things that I was looking for by subtracting. And look, there was my grit. By getting rid of this habit that I thought was just what humans do, but it turns out it's not, it's just what the specialized culture decided to do, and of course it got five times bigger than the size that it originally started with, and we just keep adding, so yeah, that's what I have to say about that.
Shawn Stevenson: This goes back to even the title of your book, and I'm assuming it's a double entendre.
Katy Bowman: Always.
Shawn Stevenson: Rethink Your Position. And I want to ask you about that, because the thing about an entendre, good entendre, it's kind of open for interpretation in a way too, and so as soon as I read the title, I was thinking about my own personal position, like mentally, thinking about your biases and just thinking about your thinking, right? So, rethinking your position on certain things, and so what does this double entendre mean for you?
Katy Bowman: Well, I guess at face value, it's like, maybe don't position yourself this way, position yourself that way, just change your physical shape, reconsider your physical shape, but yes, the bulk of the barriers to the way we move are mostly mental, it's in the way that we think about movement, and I've been trying to get people to rethink their position on movement. People don't even realize they have a position on movement, but exercise is the main position that they have on movement, it's the full scope of what it is in their mind, like fitness based, join the gym, do the thing that counts, there's no other real movement in our lives, and I'm like, "Well, there really is all sorts of other types of movement."
And so, I'm just really big on thinking about what you think. Don't just think something, think about why you think that. Because once you start asking yourself questions about why you think the way you think, you'll realize that there's a whole bunch of stuff that you didn't even consider. We're not thinking as much as we think we are, or are we? I don't know.
Yeah, I just think that we tend to get these bits that stick and we don't really take ourselves through a series of questioning them, and so this book is really, I'm having you rethink your position on movement as a thing, as a construct, as a theory and as an idea, and have you look at the way that you hold certain definitions about things, and where movement is appropriate, where it goes. It goes everywhere. And so, yeah, that's the point.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. You just said it, in our culture, which is a huge part of the problem, I think, the connective tissue for us to do the thing, we see exercise in this kind of vanilla thing, like you're exercising, you're doing some... You're lifting weights, you're running, it fits into this kind of pithy box. And in the book, one of my favorite things, it was a small thing and people might miss it, but you mention an aspect of physical fitness that's often overlooked, you briefly touched on the importance of learning to adapt physically to different scenarios as being a measure of physical fitness. That's really, for me, as soon as I read that, I was like, "That's what physical fitness is." Like at its core...
Katy Bowman: That's what it's for.
Shawn Stevenson: Is being able to adapt, as opposed to tolerating only a narrow range of physical experiences. You mentioned this earlier, things happen in life, illness, injury, people passing away, being in different environments, whether it's a school environment, desk-bound or some kind of a more dynamic environment, how are you able to adapt? Like how fit are you to adapt to these different circumstances? Because one of the most profound things that you've already said is that it requires a lot of energy to adapt when you are in pain. And it can really, for example, the ability to be more externally focused and to share and to motivate and to teach when you're in pain, the pain makes you withdraw, and what if you're more resilient because you've adapted, you've already trained yourself to adapt under varying circumstances? At its core, I think that that's what physical fitness really is, everything else kind of sits on top of it, getting a little bit... A tighter waist or the self-made BBL, not the one you buy, but those things could be a side effect of exercise and movement in a certain way, but at its core, how resilient are you? How fit are you to adapt to life on planet Earth?
Katy Bowman: Yeah, and we've gotten to the point where the idea of fitness is about the one-rep max, body composition, flexibility test, we're confusing the way we're trying to measure someone's physical fitness with what it actually is, and what it is, is, yeah, your ability to do the necessary tasks in everyday life, and I don't only mean like picking up heavy boxes, it is showing up for relationships, it's all of the things that go into life. Now, it's interesting is like, that's the definition, that's in the definition, like the clinical definition of physical fitness, but in there is necessary for the tasks of everyday life, so as our society creates days where no physical tasks are required, then we could sort of continue to stay physically fit no matter what. Like if we're not required to walk anywhere, bend over, get up out of a chair, pick up anything to do the tasks of everyday life, as the tasks of everyday life become more and more sedentary, then it's easy to mistake or to mis-perceive our ability to deal with daily life, to deal with daily life physically, but there's this relationship though, between your ability to deal with it physically and your ability to deal with it in other ways as well, because of course, your mental health and your spiritual health and your psychological health, however you want to think about those, are all within still the vessel of your body, and then you start...
Like you can get by not moving around for a lot of things to a certain point, but then you start having other signals of movement hunger that can arise, and then it starts encroaching on maybe the non-traditional physical tasks of your everyday life. And so, we do, again, is that resiliency is... There's a lot... Like if everything we do with our body is physical, then me showing up to have a conversation with you is physical. Like my ability to be focused on you, to have my senses perceiving you and reading you and my clarity, those are physical processes as well, and those are affected by the movements that you do or not do. And of course, I'm still, I really love all of the other traditional physical fitness, like to be able to walk without balance and to bend over without pain, but they're all related, they're not as separate as we tell ourselves that they are or that we perceive that they are, and no one's told us different. I'm just here to tell you different, they're all connected and are influenced by the relationship that you are in with your body. Like you are in a relationship with others and you're in a relationship with yourself as a separate physical entity, and that's a relationship that might need more nourishing than it's getting right now.
Shawn Stevenson: Wow. This is one of the things for me recently that it's what makes humans so exceptional, is that we have the ability to create conditions to where not only can we heal from a thing, but we can actually come back stronger. And in the animal kingdom, like a lot of times, an injury is the, that's it, because somebody's maybe going to eat you, or you can't go out and procure your food. But recently, and I shared this with you before we got started, a couple of weeks ago, actually it's two weeks now, I tore my calf muscle. And the story, to unpack that for... The entire story will come another day, but basically again, not depriving my body of certain inputs, which again, I was doing the 20% that gets 80% of the results, being in a kind of elite space in comparison to our society, that's one thing, but what does it mean for you and what you request and require of your body? And because I was so externally focused doing all this other stuff, boom, this thing happens.
Now, with that said, I had recently, and even in the talk that I was doing in Mexico, I just got back from Mexico for Phenomenal Life with our guys, Eric Thomas and the whole team, and when the injury happened, I was in the ER and my wife was sitting next to me, she was like, "I guess we're not going to Mexico." And it never even crossed my mind that I wasn't going to be there on the stage and doing what I needed to do. So I already had this base and I literally came in there, I couldn't put my foot on the ground, and I got to share this little part with you too, because I had this really interesting thing happen when I got there, and I was on crutches for about the first week, I couldn't put pressure on it for about two, three days, but knowing wonderful people in my life, Kelly Starrett is just always right there.
Katy Bowman: Mm-hmm. It's always great to have 'em, call 'em up.
Shawn Stevenson: Motion is lotion, like some of the things for... And I was first put into a splint the first day, and also seeing a on-the-ground physician there in LA, he works with a lot of athletes, and he was like, "As soon as you can lose these crutches, do so." But with certain precautionary things. And so, I got to Mexico, and by the time I spoke on stage, I had to make some adaptations to get there, but there was another guy who had the same injury, same leg, same spot of the calf that tore, and he still had his crutches that he brought with him. And his had happened a month ago, and I was at day nine and I was already walking around, I was on stage, like how is that possible? Part of the talk was how being fit makes you more resilient when these things happen. And there was a plethora of studies, and actually by the time this episode comes out, we're going to have an episode talking about that, that aspect of physical fitness and how it trumps this superficial thing of looking a certain way.
Katy Bowman: Sure.
Shawn Stevenson: But for me, it was having access mentally to these different tools and ways of thinking to progress me along, but also all the other fitness pieces came into play. I'd never done with my other leg that wasn't injured, more one-legged squats to get me up and down out of chairs, single-leg deadlifts to pick things up, doing dips as I'm going down the stairs, I was able to move around and there's so much nourishment that's happening. We're delivering more oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the side of the injury and all the things, because I wasn't debilitated physically, number one, but also mentally, having the fortitude under unideal circumstances, and one of the coolest compliments, one of the, you know, he's an incredible thought leader who was there, and he came up to me, he was like, "I wouldn't have known that you were injured if you didn't say." And I said it on stage. I shared it because a slide came up talking about being more resilient against injuries, part one, so being physically fit reduced the risk of injury, but stuff happens. If you do get injured, you recover faster if you're more fit. And so, I just wanted to share that piece because reading... Then there after reading your book and really getting smacked in the face, like this physical fitness isn't this superficial thing, it's about being more adaptable to the challenges and circumstances of life here on planet Earth.
Katy Bowman: Yeah, which often require physical responses. And I love the way you said it, it's about the base, it's all about the base. Sorry, I couldn't help it.
Shawn Stevenson: Boom, boom, boom.
Katy Bowman: Your base allowed you to have some wiggle room in what happens. And when your base is low... And the thing is going to happen, it's just going to happen in life, you could try to shield yourself from an injury or a thing, but this is part of being human, and you don't want to hedge your bet on no injury or no illness, like it's just not going to go that way. So, to just think about like, "I'm not exercising for fitting in... " It's not like a shallow appearance-type thing that we're talking about here, this is about, yeah, being able to meet what's coming up in life that's inevitable, that's going to come up, but in a way where you are better equipped to deal with it. And you can't control everything, but an injury in your foot is a lot smaller when your arms are strong and your core is strong and you can move yourself around and your other leg is strong, it's a completely different situation when all those other parts are also, their base was much closer to the injured state than it is to the uninjured state, so that's just the way you want to be thinking about your body.
And again, it's like bare minimum, it's just bare minimum. Like the stuff that I'm trying to offer, they're small, they're even small exercises and ways that you can use your body through the day that don't take more time, they don't take special equipment, it's just using your body more to do the things that you need to do anyway. It's a way of like, again, building that grit into your daily life. Certainly, go out and add the exercise component too, but there's a lot here that is free and easy, that can make life, I would say, better for a lot of people.
Shawn Stevenson: Got a quick break coming up, we'll be right back.
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In the book you talk about a body part, an aspect of our anatomy that doesn't get a lot of love unfortunately, and it's like the protector of what love is attributed to, of our heart, we got the rib cage. The rib cage does not get a lot of love out here in these streets, alright?
And you talk about giving us some ability to re-orient and pay attention to where our rib cage is being placed and how that can throw off our anatomy in certain ways, and why did you give special attention to the rib cage?
Katy Bowman: Why does the rib cage get its own chapter essentially? Yeah, well, the main reason, it kind of relates back to tech neck. So, there's... A lot of people have this forward curve of the upper back, even if it's not tech neck per se, Hyperkyphosis, this excessive curve of the upper spine is a problem for a lot of people. It's something that we can see in people as they get older, and the rib, when that happens, it's not just like, "My spine is bending forward now." Your rib cage is dropping into your rib cage, into the thoracic cavity, and that's where your heart and lungs are. So now you've got a part of your body that's in your rib cage that's not really supposed to be in your rib cage, because the heart and lungs have movements of their own to do and a certain space that they like to do them in. And so once... So even posture and alignment, it's not about how it looks, it's never about how it looks, it's evaluated by how it looks, but it's not about how it looks. It's about how it works. And your heart and lungs and the rib bones themselves, they are hinges. They are actually, we think of our rib cages being pretty fixed, but all those bones that come around that you get when you eat ribs, those are, they have hinges on the vertebrae on the back that is supposed to be flexible like your elbow and your knees.
Like they're supposed to have motion because that motion they're like, just like your knees and hips, you would want them mobile to take a step. You want your ribs to be mobile to take a breath. That the way breathing works really depends on these particular joints being flexible. But when your spine is curved forward, those ribs are not flexible. Like they, the actual forward position of the spine makes it so those rib hinges can't work. Now, luckily breathing is so important to humans that we've got different ways to bring breath in too. But so now maybe your abdomen has to do more inflation to be able to overcompensate for the ribs to be able to move all the time.
It's great to be able to breathe through your belly and to have that space, but to not be able to breathe through your ribs and to have to be able to breathe through your abdomen all the time makes it more tricky when you want your abdomen to be able to contract to stabilize your spine. Like all these tradeoffs are happening. So that's why the ribcage gets its own chapter. It's because it's part of breathing. It's part of why the position of our ribcage as a whole, not the individual ribs, but the ribcage as a whole, where our ribcage chronically really influences what's happening in our lower back. And I know the lower back is an issue for a lot of people and if they're dealing with it at all, tend to be dealing with it through the hips and the pelvis.
Like, oh, I have to fix my pelvic tilt, and you do. But the other part of that duet is the ribcage might be in a position that's also compressing the lumbar spine. So just rounding out this very important piece of anatomy for physiological and then structural reasons is why, I think it's like even the second chapter, it's even like this is ribcage forward. Like I wanted to put the ribcage out there because it does not get a lot of love.
Shawn Stevenson: You also, in that chapter, you talk about the association with the ribcage and the pelvis and how trying to adjust one thing can just cause more of a dysfunction of the other thing, and you talk about this phenomenon of being a mother tucker.
Katy Bowman: Mother tucker. Yeah. So for people who really tend to be rib thrusters, which is, I explain a little bit more in the book, but just imagine wearing your ribcage or your chest like way out in front of you so much that if you looked in the mirror from the side, it would be out in front of the rest of your body or the bottom of it would sort of jut forward. These are things that we often do to deal with really tight shoulders or try to hide a lot of curves to the upper back. When you thrust your ribs, it creates a lot of compression in the lower back. Right? You get a deeper lower back curve. So, one of the ways that people will deal with this extra compression in their lower back that's coming from above, that's coming from the ribcage, is to tuck the pelvis. So that does fix the compression in the spine, but now you have a tucked pelvis, and the pelvis has got sort of a baseline position that it works really well in. And then when you start tucking the pelvis, then you start messing with how much your butt muscles fire when you take a step and how long of a stride you can take. And so, it's just, again, we have a lot of range in our ability to move our parts, but there is a way that the parts work really well together and it's just trying to inform people like what those are.
How could they be on the lookout for how their leg and pelvis could work better together? How their pelvis and ribcage could work a little bit better together. How their arm and shoulder and ribcage can work a little bit better. Because sometimes these get clumped together. That's one of the adaptations to a lot of sitting is our leg is overly coupled. That's the mechanical speak. They're overly coupled from an engineering perspective. The leg should be able to swing freely at the hip, but hips are stiff. So instead of swinging freely at the hip, the whole pelvis and leg, they're like in a dysfunctional relationship, they go everywhere together, co-dependent. We need some degrees of separation here. I need you to go one way and I'm going to go over this way for at least some part of today.
Same goes for the arm bone and the shoulder. They get overly coupled, everywhere the arm goes, the ribcage goes, and your shoulders need their ability to move. And so, we can mask a lot of immobility because it's like, look, I did my 10,000 steps. I'm like, yeah, but you didn't hinge at the hips, you hinged at the lower back instead. And you're like, look at this sweet tennis serve I got. It's like, yeah, but I noticed that your shoulder is so tight that when your arm goes overhead to stiff, your rib cage came up with it, which means your lower back really was a star in that serve more so than it needed to be. And now and then no big deal, 10,000 of them a day, your job is maybe working repetitively overhead. You want to make sure that you're using the parts that have the potential to be contributing and not defaulting to the lower back, which has become our go-to hinge.
Shawn Stevenson: So good. So good. So, this doesn't get a lot of attention, obviously, being a mother tucker. Maybe if Samuel L. Jackson, we can cue him up saying that instead of the other.
Katy Bowman: Let's get Samuel on.
Shawn Stevenson: And it's really interesting because a lot of this stuff we are just doing we don't really think about. And so, you're directing us inward and really helping to bring about more physical literacy, which is really, really cool. Now, one of the things that I know is difficult for somebody like yourself to like pin them down and say, what is the number one thing we should be doing? What is the number one stretch or number one exercise? But I was pleasantly surprised to see, in the book you did mention that for years if you were to be...
Katy Bowman: Pinned down.
Shawn Stevenson: Really pinned down and asked, what is your number one exercise? You said it was the calf stretch.
Katy Bowman: It is.
Shawn Stevenson: So why is that?
Katy Bowman: Well, so there's another essay in the book that goes into why, and it has a lot to do with our heart. So, the heart is on the top of the body and blood's flowing down, it's easy to go that way 'cause gravity's helping you. It's harder to get your blood to go back up. So, one of the things that blood flow depends on is the musculoskeletal system helping the blood get back up, especially from the legs, right? So, we've got veins. Veins are the tubes that get the blood back up to the heart and they've got these like little doors in them that as the blood comes back up and then it drops for a second, they can rest on these doors. But the pumping action of you moving your calf muscles is what pushes the blood back up so that the heart doesn't have to move your blood around by itself.
We've got this narrative that the heart is moving the blood and it is, but that's a static sedentary model. Your musculoskeletal system is a major part of how your blood moves around your body. So, in a very sedentary culture, the heart is really going it alone a lot. And calf action is a big, you've got like, they're like calf hearts. I'm like, you've got these tiny hearts in your calves that are there to help you pump your blood. And we're not using them. So, getting up your steps per day helps. But what's happened is our calves are so stiff now through just in the environment that they've been in, that even when you go to take your steps, the chances you're not going to have as much calf contraction and cardiovascular support. So, if you stretch your calves, you not only are taking better care of your feet and your ankles and your knees and your hips, which are all affected by what's going on in the calves, you are also getting more heart support out of every single step that you take. So that's, if I had to pick one, if you're going to make me name my favorite kid, it's going to be the calf stretch because it pays off more than when you're just doing it.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. I feel like you wrote that for me in a moment.
Katy Bowman: You're welcome. I did. I did.
Shawn Stevenson: Because of the calf tear, which it was in a stretch position that it was unfamiliar with because, which again, like I do all of this stuff, but it's the small things, right? And actually, putting my ca... And getting this extra layer of like, why it matters, it's heart healthy to put my calf into this position, which I had neglected. Which again, funny enough, a thing would happen when you neglect the thing. And so yeah, that really spoke to me. And this also speaks to the fact that you just mentioned walking, right? We're getting all these steps in, but what we're missing even when we're walking is that our gait, as you talk about in the book, we have a whole-body gait, it's not just... And matter of fact, you even mentioned we have a whole booby gait as well.
Katy Bowman: Your whole body is walking, all your parts. All your parts are doing things, should be doing things, can be doing things. And again, if you ask anyone about like, what's the best fitness exercise for people to do, it's always going to be walking. Like, we're going to start people on walking because it's inexpensive. It's volumic. It fits into everywhere that you live. You can do it with your family, you can do it with your friends, you can do it as transportation. It's so practical. But that being said, we have patterns to our walking in the way that we have patterns to our speaking. And a lot of times the way we walk, because our gait has been informed by how our fam... Like, it's not hereditary any more than an accent is hereditary, but you're informed by the environment that you were raised in.
So, the way that you move your mouth when you speak those accents that you speak with is because the people around you were doing it. You picked up on those movements, they're movements that make an accent and your gait is your walking accent. And so, the way that your parents or whoever was around you as you were growing up and then also who was on TV, who you wanted to emulate, the sports that you played, the injuries that you had, the amount that you drove, the shoes that you wore. Like all these things go in to inform your gait accent. And for many of us, the way we walk is leaving a lot of parts out of it and is also overly taxing other parts. So, stripping down our gait, just calling your attention to how you're doing it, just paying attention to be like, yeah, I guess I do...
I've been doing that for so long I didn't even realize I chose to do that. Like I've got a pre-teen and, and he is like, "This is the way I walk when I'm at school." And like there is a choice that's being made there. And somewhere down in his 40th or 50th decade, he probably won't remember that he made that choice because that was no longer important to him or his identity. But it's cement... Like that's the way movement works as they sort of get cemented in there, but they're not cemented. It's more like just old clay. So, you go in motion as lotion as you were saying, and you're going to go in and you're like, I want to, I'd like to shape this a little bit differently. And sometimes it's cemented in the form of tension. Certain muscles are stronger than, just like dominant personalities they want to take over. So then there's just exercises to say, this is how you get this muscle to step out and how you invite this other muscle in. That's essentially what form is for exercise. It's an invitation for others to step out and others to come in. And when you learn how to use form, you can eek more out the shapes in your body that you're wanting and that you've been missing and letting other parts of you rest.
Shawn Stevenson: So good. You're so good.
Katy Bowman: You're so good.
Shawn Stevenson: The best. And the way that you unpacked in the book, the, again, it's reorienting our thinking to this act that we do. And a lot of it is subconscious or unconscious, like the act of walking. And I mentioned, you said in the book as well, whole booby gait. So, we even gave a connection to how walking influences breast health and you unpacked that whole phenomenon as well. And there's things that people don't tend to think about, but this really speaks to... And just kind of tying all this together, there's also its whole body breathing in a sense. And you talk about our breathing parts and when you mentioned how we try to... Essentially, we compensate if we've got like our ribcage is not really as functional as it could be. But for me, this threw another layer of why "exercise matters" is that it essentially forces the system to take better breaths, right? And we don't think about that part. And also, you just mentioned the impact that it has on circulation because our heart getting the heavy burden from a sedentary lifestyle, could this be a contributor to why heart issues is the number one killer in our culture? Like by far every year, and it's been like this for quite some time because we become more and more sedentary, right? And so using our muscles through movement and "exercise" it's just like stacking conditions to like, oh, like I must move my body. This isn't even something to talk about.
Katy Bowman: It's not an option. It's not even on the table for discussion and yet it is. So, exercise is protective of health. Like that's what I think everyone feels comfortable understanding. Why it's protective is a very long answer. There's a lot of different avenues through which it's protective. The avenue that it's protective, one avenue really that's been focused on, and I think it's the reason it has not gotten more traction is because it's been boiled down to like a metabolic benefit. Oh, it keeps you from... It allows you to move your calories away. It's like this very shallow energy argument, and the argument is there and exists and is valid, but it's just not the only reason that you would move. There are so many others. There are so many other benefits to it.
So, we're talking now about like the mechanical benefits to movement. I'm a biomechanist, so I don't see things in terms of their like chemical benefits or their physiology. I can appreciate them and see them, but in the same way that I would say in order for your shoulder to do well or your ankle to do well or your hip to do well, it has its ranges of motion that it needs to move through. The anatomy of these parts indicates the ranges of motion that they need to be taken through in order to be able to use those ranges of motion, we say move it or lose it. I try to offer a different reframe for people who think differently would be like, care for it to keep it. Those are the same thing, but they just feel differently, feel differently in mouth. They feel differently in your intention. So, along the range of motion vein, your lungs have ranges of motion that they need to go through. Look at your eye. Like I just saw your eyes bulge. And I think that this is, I talk about everything and ranges of motion at like ad nauseum because I think that for someone it's a key.
They're like, that makes sense to me. Your lungs need to go through their ranges of motion. You, yes, you are breathing all the time in the same way that your elbow is in a position all the time, or your hip is in a position all the time. I'm in a chair, I'm breathing, I'm in a chair, my hip is at 90 degrees. Both these things are true. My hip is not going to last me very long if this is all that I did with it. And really in the shorter term, all the tissues that I'm sitting on right now, like I would get sores, like they would start dying very quickly if this was the only position I did. Movement, the changing of loads through the changing of positions is how our tissues are fed. They can't withstand the same pressures for a long period of time. Some tissues can tolerate them longer. Your lungs with this shallow breathing that we're doing all the time are not going through their ranges of motion. The only way you take your lungs through their range of motion is by doing something that deepens your breath. So, there's a lot of people who exercise their lungs by like, okay, then I'll take some deep breaths.
There are even systems like pranayama, like just old systems that have come up with breath exercises to move the breath, move the lungs through their ranges of motion, arguably for other reasons to invoke different states physiologically. But the fact remains is the lungs are being taken through different ranges of motion. You moving your body takes your lung and you are challenging your body in certain ways, like taking your weight. When we are adults, we are heavy moving them up a flight of stairs, moving them down towards the floor. You are transitioning your shape and your cellular food system; your heart and lungs have to respond to that by directing things. They become active, they're very inactive, just like your hips and legs are inactive. They're are adapting to sitting. So that when you go do something that's spontaneously strenuous, it's just like popping like your calf muscle did.
The heart can just pop in that way. It's like, whoa, I wasn't practiced in doing that and I was overloaded in this second. And the calf is more forgiving than the heart. The calf is more forgiving than the heart. So, your lungs are smooth muscle. Your heart is cardiac muscle, but muscles, they need to be taken through their ranges of motion. And you moving your other body parts is the only way you're really able to take your heart and lungs through their ranges of motion. So, it's just thinking about, it's all the same. Like the reason we're doing it is all the same. Mechanically is like, that's how you care for that relationship. You're in a relationship with your heart. You're in a relationship with your lungs. This is what they need.
They're giving you all sorts of signs when they're not getting what they need. But we don't have a language that says this is that sign. We talk about health, and we talk about markers. We don't talk about relationship. You're not meeting its needs. And that's all. And your partner, your life partner, your romantic partner, your children, even your dog, it can squawk more. We're more attuned to those being requests and our body is asking things of us. And yeah, maybe it's the age of working on that relationship a little bit more and not seeing it as... Like it doesn't have to be... Like I'm all for the idea of self-care, but I think it's even more foundational or elemental than that. It's just like simple care. It's like simple acknowledgement and response in them. I'm hoping that this is the age.
Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. And you are one of the biggest voices, for me, a primary voice in this. And I'm very grateful for this relationship with you.
Katy Bowman: Eight years.
Shawn Stevenson: Eight years.
Katy Bowman: Eight years.
Shawn Stevenson: That's the infinity. I'm so grateful for you. Can you let everybody know where they can pick up a copy of Rethink Your Position and follow you and all the good stuff?
Katy Bowman: Yeah. Rethink Your Position, you can go to your bookstore and pick it up hopefully, online. You can order it online. You can find me at Nutritious Movement everywhere. Like that's the social media, that's the website. And we have a Move Your DNA podcast that just digs into like, I'm kind of a nerd as people probably have gathered from listening to this show, so I like to nerd out about the details of movement. And that's a good place to listen for more.
Shawn Stevenson: It's so cool. There've been several moments just sitting here and just like, she's here.
Katy Bowman: I'm here.
Shawn Stevenson: So, it's really awesome. And I'm just so grateful for you and thank you so much for taking the time and energy in putting these wonderful books together because they're so helpful. They're so shareable as well. And one of the things I learned recently, like reading books like this puts you in a flow state. And things can just kind of get in deeper. And also, the way that you frame things, it's just kind of revolutionary. Like you have a change in your thinking. You're not going to be the same person who went into this book as the person who finishes. So again, I appreciate you so much.
Katy Bowman: Thank You for having me. I appreciate you too.
Shawn Stevenson: The one and only Katy Bowman, everybody. Thank you so very much for tuning into the show today. I hope you got a lot of value out of this. Were you inspired to add some more movement inputs into your own movement diet? That's what it's really all about. If you were, please share this out with your friends and family. Sharing is caring in this context more than ever. We are truly the most sedentary culture in the history of humanity. So, our accent is, it's not very spicy, it's not very entertaining. We want to improve our movement, accents in our diversity, learn some different movement languages. All right? And to do so, it's learning from incredible teachers and just beginning to rethink our position and think differently about movement, about exercise, about our bodies, about ourselves, and how we relate to the world around us. And that's what it's really all about.
So again, please share this out with your friends and family. You could send us directly from the podcast app that you're listening on, and of course you could take a screenshot, tag Katy at Nutritious Movement on Instagram. And I'm @SeanModel on Instagram, share it up over there. I always love to see that. And I'm at The Model Health Show on Facebook as well. If you want to pop over to the book of face. All right. We've got some incredible world class guests and powerful masterclasses coming your way very, very soon. So, make sure to stay tuned. Take care, have an amazing day and I'll talk with you soon.
And for more after the show, make sure to head over to themodelhealthshow.com. That's where you can find all of the show notes. You can find transcriptions, videos for each episode. And if you got a comment, you can leave me a comment there as well. And please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome. And I appreciate that so much, and take care, I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.
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