Find out what boobs, balls, and arms have in common. In the first of this special summer series, Katy Bowman reads three of her favorite essays from her book Alignment Matters, and notes the connections among them. Plus! Announcing Wilderness Moves: Hiking Awareness with Katy Bowman and Doniga Markegard in Chimacum, WA in September 2018.
00:03:53 – Alignment Matters Essay #1 – Boobs – Jump to section
00:07:13 – Alignment Matters Essay #2 – Low Hanging Fruit– Jump to section
00:11:49 – A snipped from the Audible audiobook Move Your DNA– Jump to section
00:15:00 – Bonus audiobook content – Bloopers! – Jump to section
00:16:53 – Alignment Matters Essay #2 – Swing Forward – Jump to section
00:21:27 – Take-Aways from the essays – Jump to section
00:24:09 – Social Media Break, Upcoming Live Events, and more – Jump to section
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE SHOW:
Research for Essay #1:
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KATY: Happy summer, peeps! This is the Move Your DNA podcast, with Katy Bowman. I am Katy Bowman, biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA and a bunch of other books about movement. And speaking of my other books about movement, this summer on the podcast I’m going to do something many of you have been asking me to do for years. I’m going to read Alignment Matters to you. Not in its entirety – I am not making an audiobook, sorry. But over the next few episodes of Move Your DNA, from now until the end of August (this is 2018, in case you’re listening to it later), I’ll read you some of my favorite essays from Alignment Matters, talk about some of the connections between them, and chime in on my own writings to say things differently or offer some behind the scenes info if I feel like it. While I am for everyone doing more of their own work, in this case, let me do the heavy lifting of this most massive of my books, leaving you free to dig in the garden, walk to do your errands, or however else you move and groove. All bodies are welcome. Are you ready to get moving?
KATY: Hello friends, and welcome to Things That Swing: that is me reading aloud three essays on, wait for it, boobs, testicles, and arms. I wrote the content of Alignment Matters so long ago. This is 2018. A lot of this was written in 2008, 2009, so we’re talking almost a decade. And I wasn’t very practiced of a writer. And as many of you know I write how I speak. And before having much of an internet life: that is, you know, people reading what you said all over and not necessarily having all the context for it and commenting on it and commenting on you, I didn’t select my words as consciously as I do these days. And so I cringe – I really do cringe. It’s hard to read sometimes – when I pick up my older writings. But then again, I’m also cringing when I consider myself at 12 and at 19 and at 27 years of age. So we are all learning to pay more attention to our thoughts, our behaviors so I’ve decided that I’m going to love myself, and my writing at all ages because I’ve learned so much from being myself and making choices. PS I have a silly sense of humor and the content of Alignment Matters is very silly. Still, so many of you have written to me or told me in person that this is your favorite book, or this is the book where you’re perception of movement and that movement was something that you had control over – that changed. And so I still want to honor this book. Even though it makes me cringe, it doesn’t make all of you cringe and so I’m going to, instead of wishing it would go away, I’m picking the essays that crack me up the most because, let’s face it, laughter is the best psoas release of all time. You’re welcome. Without further ado, allow me to read to you three of my favorite essays.
I had no idea how amazing boobs were. I was aware of their magical power of course, but it took calming another ranting, inconsolable human being with them for me to truly understand. And then I had a kid. October is not only National Walking Month, but also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which I petition to rename National Breast Health Month, because breasts do not need more cancer awareness, but they need more health. I am also glad that National Breast Month is not National Running Month because that would be uncomfortable. How uncomfortable? One biomechanics researcher took a look: The study: Breast displacement in three dimensions during the walking and running gait cycles. Methods: Fifteen D-cup runners, reflectors attached to their nipples – doesn’t it pull the hair out when you take them off? What? Doesn’t it? – watch them walk and run on a treadmill while their breasts are filmed. (It’s for science, people, for SCIENCE!) Findings: During walking, breasts move evenly in all directions. This is just one of the reasons I love walking. During running, however, “More than 50 percent of the total movement was in the up-down direction, 22 percent side-to-side and 20 percent in-and-out.”4 Wait. What’s “in-and-out?” You mean like a punching balloon? Yes, exactly. Why the difference in walking vs. running? Because walking is entirely different from running. Your body travels much more up and down, even if that up and down movement comes from your knees bending to absorb the shock and not your feet leaving the ground much. Boobs. Your new gait-training tool. Your boobs are essentially a biofeedback device, visually demonstrating the inefficient moves of your whole body. (And just a note: I would probably edit that now to say, visually demonstrating any inefficient movements of your body, not implying that you have any per se.) Body swaying right and left? So will the girls. Breasts moving in and out? Your body is not flowing forward smoothly and has points of start-stop creating a stall in every step. Forget the hips. The boobs don’t lie. Here’s another interesting tidbit: Researchers found that the poorer the breast support, the greater the effect on the whole-body kinetics of the runner. Using D-cuppers again (evidently, the more boob mass you have, the more it affects your whole-body performance), this study found an increase in medial loading of the pelvis and knees as a result of the breasts’ momentum. If you’re taking the ladies out for a run, invest in some nice support. Especially if you are a breastfeeding mom also working on getting your pelvis back together. That excessive medial loading is killer on the pubic symphysis. Even though I’m a walker, every girl needs to run across the street now and then. And this D+ cupper would die without Athleta (which is a company that makes bras) for bras and for everything else. Dear Athleta, I love you. You complete me. KB+ ATHLETA = 4EVER.5
I’ll link to some of the research in the show notes on that.
Guess what? It’s time to talk testicles. You didn’t think I’d do it, but here I go. P.S. I’ve decided against a video blog. If you’ve ever done the weight-machine circuit at the gym or followed the calisthenic stations at the park, chances are you may have noticed a lack of program development for the cremaster muscle. A gross oversight for sure, as this muscle is very important to the healthy function of the testicles. The word cremaster comes from the Greek verb meaning “I hang.” Clever. The cremaster is responsible for keeping the sperm-generating process underway by regulating temperature in “le sac” as well as keeping the boys protected in dangerous situations. Like tennis. Spermatogenesis is the process of generating mature sperm. This process happens inside the testicles and not only requires about sixty-four days, it also needs the perfect environment. Immature sperm cells don’t thrive in heat. Depending on outside temperature, body temperature, and the tightness of one’s pants, the cremaster is busy lifting or lowering the testicles to find an amount of heat that’s just right. The cremaster is like the Goldilocks of the scrotum. If you jump into a cold body of water, it’s the cremaster that yanks the boys towards the heat (your body) in order to protect the growing sperm. The cremaster works automatically (without you having to think about it), and in addition to temperature, this muscle also fires under stress. In the hunter-gathering days, (and here I’d just like to pause and say there is still hunting-gathering today. I should probably have said, “in hunter-gathering populations”) stressful situations usually meant (or mean) a threat to physical harm. The cremaster gets busy tucking the sensitive bits out of the way. The stress-cremaster response is very old in our DNA, so it hasn’t quite gotten the message that the stress you are feeling these days is more likely coming from driving in bad traffic or reading an email from the boss. You end up with testes close to the body more often than optimal, which can create over-heating of these precious tissues. The testicles can also be lifted into the body by using the pelvic floor’s muscles -pubococcygeal – or by sucking in your stomach. Sucking the belly in is really sucking the belly up. “Sucking it in” creates a vacuum that pulls the contents of your abdomen up into the dome of your diaphragm and raises the pelvic floor with it. The waistline flattens out, but now your testicles are perpetually heating up and your diaphragm isn’t free to move when you’re breathing. That’s a hefty price for vanity. Scientists have been wondering for years why the left testicle hangs lower in most men (about seventy to eighty-five percent, depending on the source). Researchers have even created studies examining all ancient statues of nude men, cataloging the percentage of right vs. left. Now there’s a job. “Hey, get off my back, it’s for research, man!” I tend to think that right/left testicle altitude might have something to do with one psoas being tighter than the other, resulting from the use of a dominant leg. (And just as an aside: I have a lot of ideas. It doesn’t mean that they’re right. They’re just an idea of mine.) Other fun testicle facts: The word “avocado” comes from the Aztec word, and I’m going to spell it for you here friends, ahuacatl, meaning “testicle tree.” Avocado fruit hangs in pairs, with one slightly below the other. So, I wonder what the Aztec word for guacamole would be, then. For optimal sperm and organ (in this case, testicle) health, it is best to avoid interfering with the health-regulating processes your body uses on a regular basis. So, say Bon Voyage to your leather pants, unless it’s a very special occasion. Stress plays a factor in many diseases, and pelvic floor and testicular health are no different. To check and see if you have your testicles in a stress vice, stand up and see if you can relax the pelvic floor just a bit. Most of us, men and women, think that we have to not only shut off our urine, we have to super shut it off. It’s like we get points for really not wetting ourselves. Guess what, no prizes today. In fact, if you are going to get any prize – really healthy testes – use the minimal amount of force to keep your bladder closed, not the maximum. I wonder, if I made an infomercial for the Cre-Master, would it sell as well as the Thigh-Master?
KATY: Chapter one. Two miles: Nutritious Movement and Diseases of Captivity. We see in order to move. We move in order to see. A quote by William Gibson. Once when I was in college I went for an entire day without eating. I wasn’t planning to fast but I had a 100-page paper due the following Monday and sat down to type the entire thing on a Friday. I worked straight through for 20 hours before I realized when I dropped exhausted into the bed the next day that I hadn’t eaten a bite or had a sip to drink. My lack of eating that day wasn’t a big deal but by the next morning, my body was sending me some serious “you need to eat” signals. I’m sure most of you have had a similar experience of missing your regular scheduled food intake due to travel, work, kids, school, or something else that simply got in the way. Maybe you’ve even chosen to fast for a period of time. Regardless of the reason, the physical signal following a period of food abstinence is usually hunger, which makes sense right? Eating is a physiological requirement. Food, specifically the nutrients found in food, is not optional. Nevertheless, eating optimally can be a challenge. Say, for example, that I described “best, most nutritious diet in the world” and dictate that it must include adequate calories (energy), an appropriate ratio of macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates), an appropriate quantity of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, organic acids, trace minerals), and enough fiber. Furthermore, it must be fresh and free of harmful chemicals. Luckily, most of you reading this book aren’t slowly starving or unable to purchase food so we can all move toward a healthy diet using this template for nutrition. Yes, our pocketbooks might be tight enough to prevent purchasing all optimal ingredients, but with a little prioritization we can usually figure out how to score the food we want by letting the stuff we don’t need go. I’ll bet that many of you reading this book have probably done quite a bit to educate yourself on a nutrition profile even more detailed than what I’ve listed above. Take an appropriate ratio of fats, for example. What kind of fats are necessary? Saturated? Mono-unsaturated? Trans fats? What about Omega 3s? Why aren’t Omega 3s on the list? I bet you understand that, when it comes to diet, details and context matter and that my template, while a good start, isn’t very thorough. Take adequate calories for example. If you need to eat 2,500 calories a day for adequate energy, is 2,500 calories worth of Snickers bar an adequate diet?
VOICEOVER: And it’s not just Katy’s trademark humor, compassion, and straightforward approach to movement science you’ll get with each audiobook. You’ll also get…
VOICEOVER: That’s right, each of Katy’s audiobooks includes several glorious minutes of her bloopers. And you can find the Move Your DNA audiobook on Audible. And this audiobook comes with a downloadable exercise pdf as well as a mileage count. Every chapter, Katy will tell you how many miles each section is worth if you listen while you move. And why wouldn’t you listen on the move? Now hear this: Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you an opportunity to check out their service. You can download any audiobook of your choosing by going to audibletrial.com/MoveYourDNAwithKatyBowman. To download your free audiobook today, go to audibletrial.com/MoveYourDNAwithKatyBowman. That’s audibletrial.com/MoveYourDNAwithKatyBowman for your free audiobook. Ok, now back to your regularly scheduled programming with Katy Bowman.
Ahhhh, moving the clocks forward gives us that extra hour of light at the end of the day. A perfect hour for an evening walk. And that’s what I thought as I went for my first weeknight walk in the sunlit evening. I walked instead of blogging. You can give me grief when you see me next, but I really don’t feel that badly, I’ll have to admit. It’s hard to feel bad when walking gives me all those endorphins. You should try it. So, I’m out walking and noticing many new folks out along the beach path. Good for them! After witnessing this I decided on today’s topic. The arm-swinging thing. Take a closer look at the arm motion of your fellow walkers next time you have a chance. There are arms that don’t move at all, and arms that swing right to left instead of front to back. There can be one tight arm that moves less than the other, and my favorite, those working their arms more by holding weights. It’s an arm buffet, I tell you. Believe it or not, arm swing is an extremely important part of a natural gait pattern. And when digitally analyzing gait, you can tell a lot about shoulder and spine injuries-in-the-making just by watching what the arms are doing. Why do our arms swing when we walk? When you walk forward, it is supposed to be due to the fact that one leg pushes off behind you. Most people lift a leg out and fall forward, but that’s for a different blog. So now you have your right leg behind you, pushing back. That’s a large quantity of mass – our legs make up quite a bit of our body weight – which can twist your pelvis around, creating torque on your spine. There needs to be something to balance out the twisting tendency walking creates on the spine. And the easiest thing to do is reach the arm back on the opposite side of the body, to help balance the twist. It’s called reciprocal arm swing. The opposite sides of the body reach back at the same time, an arm on one side and a leg on the other. The backward-reaching arm is not only great for reducing overuse (which I would probably say over-torque) of the spine, it is a nature-designed workout for the backs of the upper arm. Awesome! Lifting the arm up behind you keeps your tricep muscles toned and the armpit lymph free. (or at least moving lymph) If you thought three sets of twelve tricep exercises with a five-pound weight were effective, just wait until you use your arms correctly when walking. It tones those arms right up! When you are out walking, you are going to see another strange phenomenon. People are lifting their arms out in front of them because they think this means they are working harder and burning more calories. And maybe that’s the case. But pumping your arms out in front creates extra tension in the front of the shoulders – muscles that are usually already super tight and fatigued from computering, driving, and sitting all day. The tighter the muscle, really, the fewer calories it burns. This forward motion tenses the trapezius and neck muscles too. And, if you aren’t swinging your arms behind you when you walk, there is nothing to help balance the torque created by the leg moving back, either. Nothing except the muscles in the lower back. Anyone out there have weak triceps (which is the back of the upper arm) and a tight lower back? Don’t make your low back muscles do the work for your arms. You’ll end up with shoulder issues and lumbar disk degeneration. Arms swing side to side? This is an indication that your chest and shoulders might have gotten so tight, the bones have rotated forward. Really pay close attention to keeping your arm swing in forward-pointing parallel lines to your body. One more thing. Bending the arms at the elbows to mimic speed walkers can reduce the energy you expend during a bout of walking. Race walkers are trying to minimize their energy expenditure so they can go very fast for a very long time. If you want to ramp up the kcals burned during your next walk – Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your arms. Here’s the exercise: Stand and let your arms relax down by your sides. Lift one arm behind you, one at a time, to see how high you can get it (don’t twist the hips or shoulders. That’s cheating). Let the arm drop down and forward. It will swing out a little in front as you drop it, but don’t do any extra work to get it up higher. The work of your arms while walking should always be behind you. They relax when they come forward. Really working a fully extended arm while walking is going to change everything about your daily walk. You’ll get much more out of it, including increased metabolic and strength benefits. And P.S. You can’t swing both your arms if you are talking on your cell phone, now can you? Hands-free!
1) Your body is made up of smaller bodies. So your boobs are the smaller bodies in this case. And the movement of one body creates movement of another body – which are your boobs – which can then start knocking you, your whole body, back around. Why is this important? Many do not recognize that the way they are moving matters. They only think THAT they’re moving matters. THAT you are moving matters, dear ones it’s just, so does HOW.
2) I said it in Move Your DNA and I’m saying it again now. Yes, you move through an environment, but your environment is also moving you right back. I want healthy bits for all, and I think key to that is that you become aware of the ways you’re being moved or casted into position, even if these ways are subtle. So another point: we also call tiny limitations of movement subtle because we measure them in millimeters or degrees. So what does a few millimeters or a centimeter or two of movement matter? When instead the question is: what does twenty or thirty years of a few degrees of movement matter? There is an entirely different volume of movement to consider. And it’s not being currently.
3) Every part and every move plays a role in the total ecology of movement of your body. You don’t have to swing your arms around all of the time, but there is a reason they do this automatically. And to eliminate it can lead to any number of unintended consequences. And some consequences might not be easily measurable when you don’t think of movement, or the way you move, as playing a role in the rest of your body. The other takeaway: we need to move our arms more, and walking is an easy way to do it.
So thank you for looking beyond the poor writing, and grand statements, and debutante behavior. My only intent is to be an advocate for movement and all its nuances.
You can find all three of those essays and hundreds of pages more in Alignment Matters. And all summer long, you can get the Alignment Matters paperback from nutritiousmovement.com from my website for half price just by using the code (it’s all one word) SUMMERBOOKLOVE. We’ll offer this deal throughout the summer, from July 3 to September 3 at nutritiousmovement.com
If you haven’t yet, subscribe to the podcast and I’ll find you. I know, it’s creepy, And if you haven’t signed up for my new #VitaminCommunity monthly, you’re missing the first vitamin community movement challenge! Plus, we’ve started a Dynamic Book Club on Instagram. For July, the book is The Last Great Walk. You can join the discussion on Instagram in September because, again, I’m on social media break. So you have plenty of time to read it. I have told you all this, this time. But next time you’re gonna have to get the book in my monthly outreach. As for live events, if you are in the Washington area, you can plan to take a great walk with me and wildlife tracker, regenerative rancher, and author Doniga Markegard in September! We had so much fun with Wilderness Moves in Pescadero California in April, we’ve decided to do it again. This time we are in Chimacum, Washington which is out on the Olympic Peninsula where I live. September 22 there is a full day of Chimacum adventures. So we’ve got our Hiking Awareness walk. It’s going to be around Anderson Lake State Park. I’ll be talking a lot about form. How to mind your form while you’re moving for more sustainable long distance walking. If your knees or your hips or your shoulders hurt when you’re hiking what are some simple adjustments. And Doniga is also considering your physical body, but more on sensory, you know, how are you tuning your ears and your eyes into your environment so that you are more aware of all of the other things that are going on in the environment you’re walking through, which is ultimately for even more engagement in nature as well as safety. After that there’s going to be a book signing and hang out at Finnriver Cidery. These are all family-friendly events. And then after that there’s gonna be a talk and Q&A with Doniga about regenerative agriculture. She’s going to be doing that at The Grange in Chimacum. And then we’ll all head back to Finnriver. There’s gonna be music, dancing, cider drinking, a huge bout of Vitamin Community. It will absolutely not be the same without you. Tickets are available now, and I will link to everything in the show notes!
Thank you all, for more info, visit Nutritious Movement and sign up for that newsletter. If you have a question, if there’s something you’d like to know, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoy listening to Move Your DNA, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. Your review helps other listeners decide whether they should take a chance on this podcast. Happy Summer everyone. On behalf of everyone at Move Your DNA and Nutritious Movement, thank you for listening. We appreciate your support.
VOICEOVER: This has been Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman, a podcast about movement. Hopefully, you find the general information in this podcast informative and helpful, but it is not intended to replace medical advice and should not be used as such.