I’m stoked to be presenting at the Ancestral Health Symposium this August in Hotlanta Georgia!

This is my abstract, in case you’re interested: Paleo Parenting: A Biomechanical Perspective

Children come with a myriad of developmental reflexes that are often suppressed through modern parenting practices. Parents wishing for a culture-free perspective on topics such as breastfeeding, shoe-wearing, infant exercise and baby-devices will find benefit in a biomechanical breakdown of how the behaviors of present-day hunter-gatherer children differ from industrialized ones.

Parents wishing to support the biological (reflexive) programs for human development and growth can be aided by understanding the relationship between applied forces (pressure, gravity, tension) and physical outcomes — bone shape, muscular strength, and milestones. Data shows that loads to bone and muscle vary greatly between modern hunter-gathering infants and babies raised in modern, non-nomadic situations.

Evaluating practices of hunter-gathering childhoods and comparing them to modern parenting practices biomechanically, offers a culture-free perspective to support parents and practitioners in decisions such as: children, shod or not, how long to breastfeed, type and frequency of baby devices, play vs. physical training.

This presentation will go beyond the chemical contribution of nutrition and into the mechanical forces necessary to utilize a good diet. Topics to be covered include the biomechanics of breastfeeding vs. bottle, jaw and soft-palate formation, baby carrying vs. baby wearing, infant exercise, footwear and gait development, and the physics of bone shaping during childhood.

Upon completion of the presentation, participants will be able to:

1. Compare the potential of vertical loading created by their preferred baby-wearing device to the vertical loading of an infant carried in-arms.

2. Determine the frequency and characteristics of footwear use necessary to optimize intrinsic foot muscles necessary for optimal balance and gait and integrate this information into a modern household/environment.

3. Differentiate between the muscular forces used during breast and bottle feeding and how these relate to orthodontia outcomes.

And all in twenty minutes.

If you’ve never been to an ancestral health event, the conference is one of those mind-blowing, earth-shattering experiences that come with the removal of a cultural veil — a big old sheer-net thing your entire mind, body and life is swaddled in, that you didn’t even know was there. You’ll spend the rest of your life discovering that, just when you thought you have found the end of it, OOPS, there’s another little bit. It’s like a huge knot of Christmas lights that way.

If you can make it to the event, great. If not, friend them on Facebook as they’ll be releasing the videos made of the event eventually. And if you want to start now, you can check out the first two of a three-part “reflex-driven childhood” interview series I’ve done with BreakingMuscle.com.

1. Katy Bowman and the Biomechanics of Human Growth: Barefoot Babies.

2. Katy Bowman and the Biomechanics of Human Growth: The Necessity of Monkey Business 

The reason I am so passionate about natural movement in (very) early childhood is because this is where many patterns are set that dictate many later-in-life health outcomes. Actually, my preference would be for us all to consider return to more natural movement before getting pregnant — making this an actual healthcare goal —  as it is the maternal environment’s structure that determines the developing skeleton’s ranges of motion and position limitations in the uterus.

But, alas, I am only one woman and can write only one book at a time. The first is one for adults, wanting to uncover their own personal reflex-driven body. Look for the kid book to come after that. And the pregnancy book to come after that.

Who’s going to volunteer to clean my house and take showers for me?

The end.


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26 thoughts on “#AHS13

  1. Katie, you are such an inspiration. If I lived anywhere near you, I’d come and clean your house once a week.

  2. Wish I could go but going to be in Big Bear then Sequim, WA I need more days! Congratulations Katy, the word is getting out there!


  3. Whee! My tot does that door swing all the time.

    I am in hotlanta and will look into that seminar.

    In other news, my 13 year old has pertussis. What would Katy do? We are doing the megadoses of vitamin c per Suzanne Humphries protocol. I would be grateful for any advice. Or prayers.

  4. How inspiring, Katy.

    My son went to a Waldorf school in NYC. It was wonderful to see mother’s breast feeding their 2 and 3 year olds with no embarrassment.

    Thanks for your blogs.
    I love ’em.


  5. I would love to clean your house… Then I can continue to procrastinate cleaning mine and you could correct my alignment while I’m cleaning 😀 now, if only I could fly across the country with my clan of monkeys, there would be some angry flight passengers on that plane lol… Have you ever read peoples complaints about kids on flights in airline websites? It’s hilarious and annoying at the same time. But I would looove to check it out… Kinda boring here on the eastern shore, it’s very pretty but also very flat and gets a little stinky with all the chicken poo… No fresh spring air round these parts! Anyway… I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog, only been at it for a month or so and already feel so much better in a lot of ways and wish I had years ago because I am eager to learn and pass on to my fam.
    I really don’t want my possible grandchildren to end up looking like the people on the movie WALL-E (no bones).
    # inspired
    Thank you <3

  6. Hi Katy,
    I’m so excited about seeing your video from the Symposium, but (tech newbie that I am) I don’t see how to Friend the Ancestral Health folks. Their Facebook page (at least through Safari) doesn’t have a Friend button – just a Like button. What to do?

  7. Katy, I find your posts fascinating! We have a 5 month old who’s incredibly active and strong, and I’m so interested to know what more I can be doing to support her development. Are there any links to websites/sources that recommend particular exercises for babies? Thanks for what you do!

  8. I have a moderately interesting anecdote to relate that is related here: When my first was born, I inherited a half dozen or so really fascinated baby toys. Since then I have collected them at various used shops and garage sales until I now have a whole large basket of them. It’s kind of ridiculous, really, and I never thought of the implications until a few weeks ago. My oldest developed crazy good fine motor skills at a very young age but didn’t crawl until 10+ months and didn’t walk til 13 months. Of course, she started talking before she started crawling and I heard grandmas say “well, they are either talkers or walkers.” This was sort of a blessing for me since the cumulative damage I had done to my back hit it’s breaking point when she was 5 months olds and I was on my back for quite a while. Fast forward to #3 who is currently 6 months old. I teach music once a week in my home and one of the families has a baby girl just a few days older than my son. This kid has been crawling for a few weeks, and scooting around mobile for a month before that. Before that, she could spend the whole time her siblings were in lessons playing on her tummy with no toys. Her four year old brother pointed out what was really going on when he noticed my son’s large basket of toys and he got this really confused look on his face and said to my four year old “why does your baby need toys? Our baby doesn’t.” It occurred to me that her body IS her toy, and that’s a really good thing.

    1. That is a very interesting thought! I think in many ways the toys and technology we give our kids from very young contributes to the ADD issues prevalent in our culture. However these toys and technology can do great good as well. It’s tricky finding the right balance but my current philosophy is “when in doubt, go with the low tech, less toys option”

  9. Love love love it, thank you Katy. Changing the world blog/book at a time. I too would clean your house in thanks for all you do-you have rocked m’world….and of course tis always more fun cleaning someone else’s rather than your own! 😉 xx

  10. I agree with the statement above…..sensory overloaded toys mobile phones pads pods etc time to find a balance, re connect to the source and interact with each other first hand. Both my children have neorological disorders due to difficult/complications at births (could done with the awareness on posture etc back then doh!!) so attention interaction and impulsivity are issues as well as the global delay, motor skills etc (and other bits n pieces) I find it very difficult in our society with the amount of over stimulation and lack of support to help facilitate what they need. So so lucky to have found you Katy and so grateful for someone who can explain in a way I can understand and implement. Thank you thank you thank you xxx

  11. Dear Katie,
    I know you are careful with your language, very precise when you are dicussing physics, so I dare to sugest being careful about the term “culture free perspective”. Looking at another culture, a cross cultural perspective, teaches us that the things we think are “just the way it is, everywhere, always” are different than the things other people think are “just the way it is”. We see things can be different than we think so we can change if we want to. However, all people are wrapped up in some culture, so there is no culture free perspective.

    Luckily, there are a few pockets of culture around where constant movement and effort are “just the way it is” and we can see how that culture effects the human body compared to our own culture where seeking less effort for the majority of the day is “just the way it is”. It shows us we could live differently. A welcome idea since not all aspects of our culture lead to health.

    I love all your writing and whole heartedly subcribe to your vision of a better life with more movement and effort everyday. Thank you for all your lessons.

    1. Hi Rain,
      I think you might be misinterpreting my use of cultural-free. This term is not being applied to the practices of the H-G population, but the mathematical analysis of loads. There are indeed TWO cultures being analyzed for this presentation and they are NON-NOMADIC and H-G, in this case. The term culture-free is applied to the analysis — the use of a free-body diagram of the loads (biomechanics) used in baby-carrying and in, say a stroller and comparing them as they are experienced by tissue. It appears as if you are maybe interpreting that I am implying that H-G populations, are themselves, not a culture. Which is not the case.

      Of course, mathematical language is, itself a culture isn’t it? So, really, even the term doesn’t stand up as used here. But, outside of grand philosophical pursuits, the term is used, in this case, to help a parent or practitioner wade through conflicting behavioral theories from all cultures, modern or not. Math is good, perhaps, at cutting to the chase, so to speak, and revealing, simply, the various outcomes of various tissue loads.

      I do not believe that, anywhere today, people are doing things “just the way that it is.” We are all — people, animals, and plants — metabolizing the biological tax of convenience!

  12. I understand, good clarification, looking at the physics of the body is the culture free part, in as far as anything can be culture free. I particularly love the discription of culture as a big, full body, endless vail of shear netting. I learned in college it effects every aspect of our thought and action and now you have added a new aspect: culture effects every cell in our body through our movement choices. Wow.

    Thank you for a reply, it’s a very special gifts of your precious time.

  13. Sounds very exciting. You mentioned culture free alignment already in your Whole Body Alignment Course and the fact that you base them on physical explorations of the body such as free body diagrams and forces calculations. There are no such calcuations or diagrams included in the Whole Body Alignment Course even though you say its is based on such explorations. Will this symposium inlcude any specific examples or your new book? Do you carry out free body diagrams and forces calculations or are your teachings based on assumptions of forces by looking qualitatively at movement pattern?

    Also you keep telling us your teachings are based on reflex driven movement but there is no explanation on what a reflex driven movement in an adult would entail. Is there anymore coming up on this? Thanks.

    1. More diagrammed for professional presentations and in the book, for sure, but not full FBD. Laymen books are published for the masses (they even wanted me to not use “high-tech” words like VERTICAL, but I insisted 🙂 You’ll have a clearer picture of reflex-driven in the new book, perhaps. More, always coming!

      1. Thanks. I can imagine that free body diagrams are too much for an introductory book. I was wondering if your information is based on free body diagram and calculations you have carried out or qualitative evalutaion of movement. I personally think a few numbers (even if it is not clear how you calculated them if you have caluculated them) help to put forces into perspective or even just a “the forces double if your alignment is x and not y”. The magnitude of the forces in play help understand the effects.

        In the whole body alignment course you mention that you use purely qualitative measures, i.e. looking at movement rather than calculating the forces involved. You mention that you could calculate the forces but it would be to intricate. My worry is that if your information is not based on actual calculations, it will always be steeped in your culture and not culture free.

        1. Well, “movement” is impossible to calculate, as loads depend on the position of every individual bone or joint, the robusticity of each bone as well as the velocity of travels. This creates a constant flux of loads — which is good and supposed to happen to stimulate the cellular cytoskeleton. In biomechanics, and in all kinesiology and biological studies, really, all we can do is isolate a moment where we get lots of zeros (like, stance or very simplified gait) which makes it easier to calculate, but also where loads would be “peak.” For example, holding a baby upright would be a maximum vertical load of the head to the muscles connecting it to C1/C2. A baby lying down would be the minimum, or zero, vertical load to the muscles that orient the head on C1 and C2. There is way to quantify the in-between, as there are too many unknowns in even a fixed or still baby NOT considering the movements of the baby-holder. You can still have general, accurate statements such as “any degree of forward flexion” of the cervical spine would create a vertical load less than the maximal vertical position” which give us information about the magnitudes and directions of a muscle’s working. These statements are number free, qualitative, but still objective and measurable, and the only thing we can currently use in physical therapy and movement sciences. Biological measures are most often qualitative once the quantitative analysis isn’t available, especially as rigid-body mechanics don’t translate well to soft tissue for many reasons. Explaining biological phenomenon via rigid mechanics, although it would seem to make it a lot easier, can actually often lead to more fallible arguments. The distinction between qualitative and quantitative is not a lack of objectivity — just a use of one method of comparison when another is unavailable. I do use force comparisons more readily in presentations to professional groups, and will do so in the book as well. I hope you find it helpful in your understanding. Ok, back to book writing! Have a great day. Or night, now…

          1. Good morning. I am not trying to hold you from you book but thought I add one more set of thoughts.

            I am not sure biomechanic researchers would agree that loads are impossible to calculate. Calculations may not present the whole picture but a closer estimate and definitely more objective estimate than qualitative description. There are many quantitative measures biomechanics use. You can measure angles and muscles forces using EMGs. You can calculate max and min in loading situations as you described. The inbetweens you can estimate. The calculations don’t have to present an accurate picture, for a scientist to get an idea of forces involved. You can use free body diagrams with arrows and use simple vector calculations/drawing to estimate overall loads of joints/muscles. These calculations can’t be used on their own, I agree, as the picture can be distorted by theoretical calculations only, but add some measurements, empirical study and description and you get a good picture.

            Ironically the example of a qualitative statement you give is a good example of a very helpful quantitative analysis.

            You say “”any degree of forward flexion” of the cervical spine would create a vertical load less than the maximal vertical position” which give us information about the magnitudes and directions of a muscle’s working. These statements are NUMBER FREE, QUALITATIVE, but still OBJECTIVE and MEASUREABLE, and the only thing we can currently use in physical therapy and movement sciences. ”

            Two points: Your statement is not number free and qualitative. Using vertical is an example of quantity, it has a value and it is mathematically defined. Any degree of forward flexion is also defined by movement in a certain plane, and can be substituted by a range of numbers (max degree to min degree of angle of flexion).

            Sedond point: By definition, something that is measurable and objective is a quantitative statement. Qualitative descriptive measures will vary from person to person. They can be very detailed and precise but their interpretation will vary from person to person. The only way you can make a statement objective is adding a number that you can measure and everyone else would be able to measure the same. (I know this is not bullet proof either but generally holds true).

            I like qualitative descrptions of movement and they are definitely more helpful for people who are not interested in numbers. Qualitative research is a lot stronger though if supported by numberical calculations that test qualitative observations. Can’t always trust your eyes, ears, feelings, etc.

            Off to do some packing now. Thanks.

          2. No worries. The book will get done. Sorry, I misunderstood your last comment. Of course, there are numerous measures taken by biomechanics, as I refer to in the course. EMG, force plate — both whole-body and embedded, goniometers, etc. There are thousands and thousands of studies using this data and it is from this data, that the course content is pulled. It is from this that we — all people in biology, perhaps — understand at which joint angle a certain muscle is used and which angle it is not. At which loads a muscle will fail and the load be applied to ligament, etc. But when it comes to applying this data, there is no way to measure, specifically how hard a person is pulling or pushing with their arm or whatever in a moment, unless they are hooked up to some device. Regarding culture-free, I don’t know if there is a way to ever be culture-free, truly, as even the filter of math and science is tinged despite all intentions. My use of the term, as I mentioned in the comment to someone else here on this thread, is in regards to practices supported by cultural belief. The current perspective of anatomy is one from evolutionary biology, which is just a theory itself, like gravity. For functional purpose though, to prevent ourselves from becoming paralyzed in our search for knowledge, we must assume a starting point. Knowing that one way can never be proven absolutely, although it’s paved with milestones that have perhaps held true under certain conditions. As I have mentioned before, I don’t present how each bit of information of biomechanical content was derived in the exercise course, because that would make the course as long as a course studying biomechanics. Not that this information isn’t interesting or digestible, but because it is too time-consuming. For example, I mention that the hip is more weight bearing on one position than another, with the peak load occurring under the full weight of the body. This is a simple geometrical argument — one just needs to understand the basic principles of weight, a compressive force, and the behavior of the cytoskeleton of a cell, in this case — a mechanoreceptor. Instead of presenting a graph with this basic data explained, I choose to explain it verbally as many people have a phobia of numbers. Words make more sense than numbers for many — many of those people being in the field of somatic or therapeutic services. But, some, perhaps like yourself, feel most comfortable seeing the values by which the statement was derived. This is easy for you to find by searching databases on the content you are most interested in. I will work, in the future, to incorporate more “data” for the dataheads out there, but because I choose to make me teaching word-based don’t be disheartened that it’s not information derived from numbers. Because I work for free most of the time, in between the search of personal health for myself and family, I work in the quickest way I possibly can. Writing out, in words, what I have studied for over a decade, so that it is usable. There is a big difference (in time) between writing “stand like *this* because your hip is under the highest load” and “here are 4 articles that demonstrated how a mechanoreceptor works and here is a mathematical example of the compressive forces created by body part A positioned at this angle and body part A positioned at this different angle, see how they compare and how this angle gives you a greater load to the mechanoreceptor which in turn signals this particular bone cell in this particular way, which in turn gives you a blah blah blah and here’s a few more journal articles on how that works.” I choose the former for the sake of time and because, here, I am teaching the correctives and not the mechanics. And, frankly, writing this out — when I remember I already have written this to you before a — has taken too much time. But, I do wish for you to understand so that you feel more comfortable. I, as well, understand that you desire the more work-intensive argument because it is how you learn best. I am slowly working on this style pf presentation, but it is my life’s work to do so. In the mean time, I write books and blogs for people to use the information right now and that’s the best I can do. Lots of Peace to you and good luck packing. I’ll end the discussion here!

  14. LOVE THE PHOTO! Those types of doorknobs have NOT been my fav- prefer the more difficult to open type, and a few extra months of sanity (Who knew they could double as monkey-bars?

  15. Do HG groups ever baby wear? It seems like most cultures have a form of wrap for back carry. Any chance of a carrier post for the times when we want two hands or just haven’t built up the arm strength needed for in arms on say a three hour hike in the mountains? Specifically, I have a woven wrap but am never quite sure how high or low to position my baby
    I tend to wear him with his shoulders at my shoulder level but looking at photos from Africa and the Carribean the babies seem to be worn closer to the waist.

    1. YES! H-G groups wear which I will cover. Most carry on the side, for the face to position outward. I’m working on a post on this, but I am so swamped, it’s going to be awhile…but it’s coming 🙂

  16. I’ve scoured the AHS’s youtube channel and facebook page, but can’t find a video of your presentation. Is it hiding somewhere?

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