Katy and her husband Michael discuss foot injuries as a natural part of life. Sharing their own experiences, they emphasize the need for adjustments in movement patterns and highlight the importance of staying active as we age. They also address the psychological aspects of injury and provide strategies for avoiding future injuries. Overall, the message is to embrace change, prioritize healing, and always listen to your body.
(time codes are approximate)
00:04:20:00 - Setting the Stage (Jump to section)
00:07:40:00 - The Birthday that Michael Became Old (Jump to section)
00:11:40:00 - There's Always Hope (Jump to section)
00:12:25:00 - The Other Side of Injury (Jump to section)
00:13:25:00 - Katy's Injury (Jump to section)
00:16:00:00 - Footwear and Injury (Jump to section)
00:18:00:00 - It's All About the Feet (Jump to section)
00:23:25:00 - Reworking (Jump to section)
00:31:00:00 - Shoes (Jump to section)
00:40:00:00 - In Summary (Jump to section)
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THE SHOW
This is the Move Your DNA Podcast, a show where movement science meets your everyday life. I'm Katy Bowman, biomechanist, author, and jump roper ... right up until I got hurt. All bodies are welcome here. Let's get moving.
Hey there, podcast listeners. Today's episode is all about injury, negotiating injuries, specifically foot injury. I have a special guest today.
KATY: Hello, Michael.
KATY: This is my husband. This has been a tough year for us in injury, I would say.
MICHAEL: We've had a lot of foot issues.
KATY: And knees and back.
KATY: Yeah, there's been a lot, and those can be for other episodes, but today we're going to talk about feet. I've written two books about feet, and I get a lot of questions about foot injury. So, I thought it'd be great to put it in podcast form and talk you through how I approach injury myself. And then how you approach injury as well using similar principles.
KATY: This is not information that works for every injury, for every person, for every situation, but I do think there's a framework that might be helpful. So, even if your injury, if you do have one, is not in your feet, I would still listen. There are going to be some things about just approaching injury in general.
So, we talk about the stages of life. I think I've written books for the stages of life. We've got Grow Wild for kids and books for middle age and then Dynamic Aging for older age. So, when we think of ages and stages of life, it's usually those that come to mind. But, I would say that injury is also, it's a natural stage of life, right? It's something that everyone's going to experience. Disease too. It's a phase that you're in, and when you're in it, it's sort of like, well, I would imagine many people listening would be always interested in body care and wellness.
I think that when you're injured, the priority of dealing with your injury sort of moves your physical - like if you had to create a hierarchy of what you were balancing every day - movement can might be more towards the middle, but I think it gets more important when you're negotiating an injury.
MICHAEL: Yeah, the types of injuries that I have had, and I think probably you as well, they always signal to me that, I mean, I guess to put it simply that I'm getting older, but ...
KATY: How dare you.
MICHAEL: ... but that is to distinguish between, like I'm not talking about like a car crash, or traumatic accident kind of injury, but where the things that I'll get, like suddenly something will happen to my foot where 20 years ago doing the same activity wouldn't have done anything to my foot. Or I have a spasm in my back. I see it as, like to build on what you're saying, it's like an adjustment. It's like my body is having to adjust to the next phase, and this is the adjustment period, because I will emerge from those injuries, I think moving a little bit differently, sort of like I have to - it's sort of my body's way of teaching me how we're going to get through the next phase of life, and it's not gonna work doing it the way that I have been doing it, and my body lets me know where the stress is that I'm gonna have to change it up. That's how I kind of experience these sorts of injuries that we'll talk about.
KATY: Wow, so you actually do see a timeline. You're actually seeing, you're moving through the stages of your life, and your injuries for you seem to relate to an end - and I gotta hate to, I don't wanna put that framework on this right now, because I don't think it's always age. I think it's years of accumulating a certain habit.
KATY: We could actually do a whole entire podcast on just this idea of that injury is like a benchmark for an athlete or someone moving through. I wanted to have you on here for an athlete's perspective, but before we go down that road, I want to paint the picture of what our particular foot injuries looked like.
I'm always thinking about the body in terms of loads and also this idea of a movement diet and how to figure out what's moving too much or too little in a body. And this was a very good example. We both injured our feet around the same time doing different things, sort of different - SORT of different - but there was similar pattern to what we were doing.
So let me set the stage though first. We were living abroad. We were living in the tropics and we went from winter to sort of an onset barefootedness. I said an onset barefootedness.
MICHAEL: It's a thing.
KATY: It's a thing. And also, living without a car. So doing a tremendous amount of walking. We went from winter where we lived to drop right into four months of being barefoot or unshod most of the time, doing lots of walking, but more importantly, which we always did, but doing lots of walking barefoot.
MICHAEL: And most of it on the sand.
KATY: And most of it on the sand. And most of it carrying heavy loads because we were carrying groceries and bags. We were having to walk multiple miles in and out of town. Also, yes, the fact that it was sand. So you would think that that's great because you're diversifying the way you're using your foot. But what I noticed it was doing is really using my feet, my sort of baby feet, my winter feet, my just out of boots feet, using them a lot. Really stretching them. And then the thing that was actually what I noticed in myself before our foot injuries happened was also in the tropics were cement floors.
MICHAEL: Like in the house that we lived in.
KATY: Yes, right. So it's like our substrate, our walking surfaces went from, I would say Pacific Northwest, sort of springy, natural terrain ground in minimal shoes. So already very strong feet, already walking multiple miles a day.
MICHAEL: And barefoot in my case, most of the time.
KATY: Yeah, you're barefoot even - you really are like - you've been barefoot walking before it was cool to do so.
MICHAEL: That's right, I invented it.
KATY: Exactly. Decades. And barefoot even through the winter, and most times to this standing on hard concrete. And then when you weren't standing on hard concrete, walking under load on sand for multiple miles barefoot. So it was just an extreme situation. And my feet started to get achy before I was injured, but you got the first injury. On your birthday. Describe it.
MICHAEL: Well, I also wanted to put in the amount of time spent in the ocean. A lot of my exercise time, and yours was actually in the ocean as well, which is another way of ... When I think of, when I'm swimming, my feet are in plantar flexion. They're in a very different position than they're used to spending most of their time. So I think that was an influence as well. But it was January, and it happened right on my birthday, which is why I say this was the birthday that I became old. But more to the point, it was the birthday that I guess.
KATY: You should tell people how old you are.
MICHAEL: I'm 47.
KATY: That's not old.
MICHAEL: No, but it's, this year I have felt,
KATY: You stopping being young.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I have felt in my body like, I suppose I just phrase it this way, "oh, I really gotta do more for caring for my body at this point" is probably a more specific way of saying my feeling.
KATY: So before you go onto your story, that was actually a takeaway that I wanted people to leave this episode with. So why wait to the end?
Taking care of your body, investing in exercise, corrective exercise, fitness, all of it becomes more important as you get older. Not less. I feel like we've got it backwards where it's like, "well, I did a lot of exercise when I'm young and I really, you know, prioritize that", and then it falls off as you get older. But I think it's the other way around. We need to think about it the other way around. When you're younger, when you're more, we'll just say...
KATY: I was going to say moist, like, yeah, like when you're when you're more flexible, like in your tissues are more hydrated is probably that what's really mostly going on in most cases, right? Even your bone density, those minerals are in liquid substrate. So it's like, when you're more ... Think of it like a branch. There's the, there's ...
MICHAEL: you're greener.
KATY: Yeah, your greener. Like they call it, you know, if you bend something that's green, it really can yield. If you take that same exact branch, same, same dimension, same shape and dry, older, right? It just snaps. And so when you're greener, you need less movement to stay green - to stay flexible. Because it's sort of built into your physiology at that point. You don't need to water it as much because water is already sort of built in. When you're older, you lose that - it's drier. So you don't need to water. You don't need ... your tissues aren't depending on movement for lubrication as much as they are when you are older. And also, the period of time that you can hold on to your strength is much longer when you're younger. You could take two weeks off. You could take six weeks off. You could take a year off and recover much faster when you're younger than compared to 20 years from that time. And so that's, that's why we want to start thinking about in this phase of injury: How how do I - especially if injuries tend to come up as we get older - how do we stay active despite the injury? All right, so what is your injury?
MICHAEL: Well, my injury was ... so it had been about a month that I hadn't been playing soccer as I usually do, even though I'd been getting plenty of exercise. I challenged my friend to a 100 yard sprinting race on the sand and about three quarters the way through as I turned on my afterburners, I felt a pop in the bottom of my right foot ... uh left foot ... right around the ball of the foot. And it didn't hurt a lot, but it felt like something was wrong.
KATY: Yeah, the dreaded pop.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I looked back in the sand to see if I had stepped on something. Because it was, it kind of felt like I hit a stone, but there were no stones there.
KATY: And I have a slightly different memory of it than you do; Which was that it was a big deal.
MICHAEL: As far as pain?
KATY: Yeah, and you really couldn't walk on it at that point. You're like, "I really did something to my foot" ...
KATY: ...and 'cause it was a real downer on your birthday. 'Cause you remember...
MICHAEL: It wasn't down.
KATY: This is a good, this is a good, this little sidebar of like, when you're in the injury and when you're looking at it afterwards, it changes, there's always hope when you get out of it.
MICHAEL: Well, what I remember the most, I'm not real driven by pain.
KATY: No, you're not.
MICHAEL: So that's why I don't necessarily remember the level of pain. What I remember the most was just that defeated feeling ...
MICHAEL: ...of just going "I don't know what this injury is." And I still don't know what it is 'cause it started recovering pretty quickly. But it was just that feeling of like, "I just injured myself running, not doing anything exciting. And I don't know what it is. I don't know what this means for the future of me playing soccer and my ability to walk." It was the mental side that was really a bummer.
KATY: Well, this is - like we could just do a podcast full of asides. Because the other side of pain and injury is just that; it's the mental state that you get into after it happens that can compound things. It makes it so much bigger than what it is. Not to diminish or minimize injury, but there's a big difference between dealing what's in your foot and also trying to deal with the fact that your life as a soccer player is over and what this means for living in a community where we're on foot. Now, you can't go, you know, like in every - you can't take a break. We were in this place where you couldn't take a physical break.
KATY: Which is a good perspective to have when you realize how many people cannot take a break when they have an injury, It's a privilege. It's a luxury to not depend on your body physically for your economic situation you know or for anything. For anything, And so, because of the situation we were in it was probably more like that than ever before.
Okay my injury, We were getting a lot of movement there as you already said. We were not undermoved. But I started jump roping.
MICHAEL: Oh, that's right.
KATY: I started jump roping just just as it's like whim. Just because of where we were. There was a jump rope around and I was showing off for my kids. And being like "I'm a really good jump roper. I can jump 100 times in a row." And then film this like this is going to be great I'm going to film 100 times without stopping. And then I would mess up like between 85 - somewhere between 85 and 100 - for probably four or five times. So I did about 600 jumps. Now I was jumping in bare feet. Because I was always in bare feet. And I'm a good jump roper. But I don't jump rope regularly. And I wasn't doing anything. You were doing something sort of explosive - like an explosive movement movement. You're strong. You're fit. You're well moved. But that particular move you were not warmed up for, or prepared for. You were sort of out of practice. The same with me for jumping, right? It was another ballistic movement that I was skilled in and had the capacity to do, but I was not ... I didn't have like - I don't have either the warmth. I had the warmth actually. I didn't have the anatomy for it at that time. And I had been in this situation where I have been really asking a lot for my feet on these harder surfaces. I did not have a pop. But the next day I woke up, I was like, "whoa, I think I messed up my foot. Like something is wrong there." And in both of our cases, just to keep this to not be a four hour podcast episode, it got progressively worse for both of us. Like there was just a stiffening of the foot and an unable to walk really well on the foot. But yet we still had to walk our multiple miles a day.
KATY: All I had as far as footwear was my minimal sandals. And without really an ability to get. We were in Central America. So I couldn't get really any other shoe quite easily. And then you're just like, yeah, "we'll feel this out." Like we've both been injured before multiple times. You just kind of deal with it. So it got worse. Now it's better. So what was different? What was that process for us? For us. The things that I want to share have a lot to do with - there's a tendency to become very still when you're injured. To take, you know, like I'm just gonna stop, full stop, moving any part of my body when I'm injured. And certainly there are some cases where that's warranted. But I would say rarely our approach to injury is to not move.
MICHAEL: No, I don't think our approach to anything is to not move.
KATY: I know, right. So there's the bias for that - we're always looking for a solution through movement with movement still intact as much as possible.
MICHAEL: Well, I feel like the recovery from the injury - and I mean, clearly this isn't true of all injuries - but to me, the recovery from injury is regaining mobility of the body part and of my whole body. So to me, it's move what I can, how I can in sort of a compensation. Like if I can't use my left foot, like, you know, put a lot more load on the rest of my body,
which I did, I had a walking stick and I, you know, was limping a lot.
KATY: I don't want the stick.
MICHAEL: Yeah. And then at the same time, be getting that foot moving as much as it can.
MICHAEL: Just knowing and experiencing that, you know, while it's injured, it's stiffening up. And as long as I'm working with my foot and letting it tell me what it's able to do to just continue to mobilize it as much as I can, is how I feel like my exit from the injury - that's like the path out.
KATY: I guess there's two parts that you want to think of. So when you have the area of your body that is damaged - there's some structural change in it that needs to heal. So I always, with whatever injury that I have, wherever it is in my body, I'll always stop, right off the bat, and take stock of all the other parts that can move. And part of that is to get me out of that psychological state that we were talking about before. To get yourself out of the habit of being completely overwhelmed. "Oh my God, I'm not gonna be able to." And like, and then your mind is racing and that can really add more suffering than what's necessary and keep you from strategizing, you know, a way out of it. So I really hone into like, for me, it was really clear. It is my foot. Feet are challenging because the feet are underneath.
MICHAEL: Everything depends on your feet.
KATY: So much depends on your feet is true. So one is to get your body part what it needs, you know, whether it's rest, you know, there's all the other treatments that you're gonna seek, right? Whether you'll just consult with your team on that. The other part is to look at all of the other parts as still needing movement, despite the hiatus of this one particular part. And so here's where staying flexible helps psychologically, not only like literally in your body, but staying flexible. So I really depend on movement just to balance out my nervous system: for my mood, you know, as well as just for my general wellbeing. So finding yourself a strategy of how to stay active without aggravating the part is like to me essential. I get a lot of emails from people like, "I hurt my foot, I can't walk, I love walking, I know you love walking, oh my gosh, what do I do?" I'm like, "You gotta find something else to move you."
MICHAEL: Get in the pool.
KATY: Yeah, get in the pool. The pool is huge for these weight -bearing injuries. So this podcast is not about our injury, it's just about that as a portal into these ideas. So like find a pool. Find something that allows you to be non -weight -bearing if you have, you know, an area that's aggravated by weight -bearing movements. There's deep water walking where you can get a belt and do a completely unloaded walking. I mean, the whole point is stay moving. Keep working on maintaining your fitness level because, like I said, to lose all of it: your strength, your cardiovascular capability, whatever it is at that point, it's so hard, the older you get to come back from. And the older you get, like it only becomes more of an issue. Your ability to go days without exercise shrinks as you get older. The tissue is not that different. I mean, other than the hydration part. It's not really that different force -producing -wise, but the ability to hold on to it, whether it's like a neurological thing, maybe it is the state of the tissue that changes it, but you want to keep yourself moving. I went to cycling. I went to stationary cycling. Part of it was just another friend, like once we got back.
MICHAEL: But you started cycling before we got back.
KATY: That's right. That's right. At the local fitness center there, it was just a really old, self -powered bike. I was like, "I can do this." I can be actually pushing with both feet, because where my injury was was on the front of my foot. The nice thing about pedals is you could adjust where you place your foot. I could be on that thing for an hour and not put any pressure on where I was injured on my foot. So, get really specific about where your issue was. Mine was mostly in the front of my foot and then also in my heel. I had sort of these two spots. But my midfoot was okay. What did you do?
MICHAEL: Well, I just want to mention on all that, as I think, I started swimming when I had a back spasm more recently, but also thinking...
KATY: Save that for the back.
MICHAEL: I will but just on the mode of... what I noticed, and it may sound a little bit trite, but for the other things that I started doing more and I started stretching more with the foot injury, that there is just sort of the satisfaction of doing something new and novel that is good for me as well. Just like they say learning a language or anything else.
There is a lot of joy in that as well of going, "Well, I'm sorted down for the count" in one sense. But the other ways of taking care of myself that I was doing. And I think it was the same with you and the biking. You found a joy in it. And part of the joy is just like, Oh, this is something new or something I used to do or have done in the past. And there's a there's an amount of pleasure out of that.
KATY: Yeah, definitely. Like that's, you know, that's maybe our optimistic nature sort of is like, you are seeing that you can learn new things that you're adaptable in that particular way.
KATY: Which is also psychologically beneficial for like people dealing with pain overall, right? Whether it's mechanically caused by an injury, or just in the state of everything's downhill. I have no control over all these things. So one, yes, you can move and two, pleasure in learning new types of movement. So that'll being said, what you're saying is I really, I don't want to lose my ability to walk. To just go to becoming to be cycling...
KATY ...swimming using these other tools. In probably some of the same way that you identify as a soccer player, I identify as a walker. It's more in the fabric of who I am in my identity than just my mode of exercise.
KATY: There's a way of being on the planet that for me is through this particular portal. So in addition to finding a reworking of your fitness programming or a work around...
MICHAEL: Though I would, in my mind, it was always a temporary work around based on what you're saying.
KATY: Well that's right. So we know this couple that was here, that they were in their 80s. They walked every day together twice a day. He got a foot injury, they stopped. But they went to cycling because exercise was really important to them,
but they never went back to walking ever again.
MICHAEL: It's been years now and they've never walked since that we've seen.
KATY: No. And their walking skill has gone down.
KATY: Their ability to walk is less.
KATY: So I also think integral to what's my exit strategy of this injury needs to include the plan to move towards the things that bring you joy.
KATY: To write off walking because of this foot injury or for you to write off your sport because of the injury, I don't think it needs to be that way. And so much of what I do here with Nutritious Movements is to be like, "you just need the correct program" ...
KATY: ... "to get you back to the thing that you're doing." And early on in this conversation, you were talking about sort of like, this is the end of something. I don't necessarily think you ever need to be to the end of something. Certainly there's injuries or severe things, you know. We know people who've had severe brain injuries, who've had traumatic spinal cord injuries, there are ends to certain movements. But in general, I think what happens is the only thing we know how to pursue is general fitness. You're a soccer player. I played soccer. I got injured. Now I can't play soccer. Now I can't jump rope. When it's like, you just need this specific training program to take care of your soccer parts. And only playing soccer was not good enough to take care of your soccer parts.
KATY: That's the thing with athletes. And everyone who has a mode of exercise is you just have this narrative, like, "well, I've done it so long, I kind of wore out all those parts. My time doing that is done." Where it's like, you weren't really, your movement diet wasn't good enough to be able to depend on just those nutrients. You need a more robust diet. And that's, I think, to me, a more helpful way of looking at it.
MICHAEL: Well, what it was the end of for me is the blasé attitude towards taking care of my equipment.
KATY: Sure. Yeah. That might be the end of your youth, baby. That's all.
MICHAEL: Yeah, I mean, yeah, that's, that's right. The youth, the youthful naive attitude that all this, "I'll be able to do it this way forever " without having to pay attention to how much. I mean, stretching really for me.
KATY: Now, your dad was just here and like he was full on. And your dad is in his early 80s. Andd he was challenging the kids to soccer shots and falling down and rolling around and getting...
MICHAEL: Hitting the ground...
KATY: Yeah, so I don't feel like those days are over for you. You come by it genetically.
MICHAEL: With my most recent injury, I had heard myself say "I've been out of commission". That was the phrase I use.
And then I thought about what I actually meant by that phrase. And out of commission to me means I can't play soccer. -
MICHAEL: So there is a bar. But it's interesting. I wonder if everybody kind of has, like for me, I never thought that that's what I meant until I actually looked at it. Like if you ever said out of commission. Or anybody. What do you actually mean by out of commission? What does commission mean for you?
KATY: I think walking for me, you know.
KATY: So just a little bit about the mechanics of what I did. You know, I already talked about keeping up my general fitness level. But it's also more my mood. Keeping up my spirit, right? Just to be in an injured state. When you are a mover or someone who identifies as a mover or you've been like, "I know so many people who are like on a roll with their health and then something happened."
KATY: And here's the thing, something's always gonna happen. It's always gonna happen. It's just the nature of life. It's a stage. And even if it's not you who's injured or ailing, it's someone else that you have to take care of. Like that's just the nature of it. And so to be as strong as you can. I mean, the fact that we were very strong going into our injuries was huge. Because I depended on my other leg. We actually never stopped walking miles a day, despite the fact that we really couldn't walk comfortably on a foot.
MICHAEL: No. That was a little...
KATY: You know what I mean? But you, so again, this is from Move Your DNA. What part of you is moving Like I depended really heavily on the opposite side of my body. Why so many of our excerpts - why do I in virtual studio - Why do I spend so much time showing people how a single limb of theirs isn't able to do the work that two limbs can do? It's exactly for reasons like this. Walking in balance - we've started to call them these words to be able to discuss them. But what they boil down to practically is when you don't have two legs available, you're depending on and you go down to one leg or one and a half legs, which is often what sort of using a cane or a stick is like. Where you can put a little bit of weight, but not as much - that other leg, that other side of your core, those shoulders need to be able to kick in for the missing part. And our anatomy does that so beautifully, but if you go into your injury without that training, now you can't walk because your right leg isn't strong enough to do the work for both legs. And if you had prepared it for that, it would be not only better for you when you had two. When you only have one leg, it's better for you when you have two. So it's just a way of trying to frame, like this is why I'm doing what I'm doing. It's really for these valleys, not only the peaks, I think that we tend to think about like optimizing as peak living. And I think of it more as surviving the valleys.
MICHAEL: Yeah, optimizing is for surviving the valleys.
KATY: It's for surviving the valleys.
MICHAEL: Now the other stuff is just fun, but it's valleys that becomes real.
KATY: It's frosting. And that's right. We've just been real. And now another podcast episode is when you're on your right side for a really long time. Now it's the right knee, now it's the lower back. And we both went through that. We paid that tax.
The foot got better, but now here's these other things. So you need to learn how to reintegrate everything back in. Those are the movements that I teach. I'm fortunate enough 'cause I can take myself through them all the time. I also though couldn't get there only with just exercises, my exercises and general fitness. I, for my particular injury, just a shout out to body workers out there called in someone who with their hands could go and find that knot that was inside my foot.
And once someone found that for me... In the end, I just ended up having a stress fracture and also plantar fasciitis, which I know so many of you out there have dealt with.
And then I just wanna talk about shoes. So that therapy was staying fit, having a strategy to get back to walking and doing it in lower loads. I only had one session, maybe two sessions of body work. Not like a general massage, but someone coming in who was skilled, who could work. Someone who dealt with injury. And then finally, it was footwear. So, I get a lot of emails or correspondence. I actually get a lot of written letters - Thank you everyone out there who sends them - about wearing, you know, I wear minimal shoes, and I've got this foot injury now. And now what do I do? So remember, minimal shoes are a category of many different types. And I've talked about this before, but I wanna put it on this particular episode. When I got back to my home, I got the stiffest pair of minimal shoes I could find, which were from Ultras. They're like a running shoe - way stiffer than I would ever, like I keep my minimal footwear really soft and flexible. But for this injury, my stiffer ultra running shoes, which had like a much thicker heel. They don't really, they have the wide toe box. They're flat. They're fully attached. But I needed that stiffness to sort of immobilize my foot while it healed. And that's what allowed me to keep walking with the rest of my body. It performs a similar function to what people would use a boot for, right? Some sort of immobilization. When people write me, they're like, "I feel like a failure, I feel so bad that I couldn't do it." I'm like, "It's just injury, it's just a thing." When I'm injured, I will put on something stiff on my foot. You're not failing for not being able to do the most strong or extreme version of everything all the time. I just want to say that because it makes me feel bad when ... I feel bad that people have taken these parameters that I'm putting out around how the body moves and feeling like they're failing when they're not doing them. These are more like, "Here's how it works. Now, as your life comes up, you figure it out for your particular load needs in your body." I got another note from someone the other day,she has rheumatoid arthritis. And can she still wear minimal shoes? I'm like, "Remember, minimal shoes are a category. You might want something very stiff because that agitation of the flexibility of the soul is too much for you, but flatness of a shoe doesn't bother you. The attachness of the upper doesn't bother you. You can get rid of toe springs." So again, think of minimal shoes as more a set of characteristics that you can maintain some and let some go depending on where you are in your journey.
MICHAEL: I feel like throwing out the baby with a bathwater is the cliche that keeps popping in my head. As I remember as recovering from the foot injuries, it never once meant, "Well, I guess we're not going to walk downtown." It meant, "Well, how are we going to walk?"
MICHAEL: And it's with a stick, and then my right side gets tired, and then the stick goes in the other hand.
KATY: With a stiffer shoe.
MICHAEL: With a stiffer shoe. It's the mental availability to all of the alternatives. Not walking was not a choice. And I'm not saying that someday it might be, but it's not to immediately just call defeat on the thing, because I can't do it the way that I'm used to doing it. But maybe you can do it in a way that doesn't look as pretty to me. I didn't like limping down the beach with a walking stick. But I liked it a lot more than not walking.
MICHAEL: And then, yeah, and then changing up the gate and changing up, even as my foot was getting better, changing up, walking on the outside of that foot or walking on just the heel, depending on what I can take for how long and changing it constantly.
KATY: Yeah. How long would you say it took for your injury?
MICHAEL: Before I was back in commission?
KATY: Before you were back in commission.
MICHAEL: Well, I mean, I was out of walking commission for probably an afternoon. And then I was walking again the next day with a stick and a big limp and putting almost no weight on it until I was able to. Well, I was confounded because I injured the other foot a month later.
KATY: When were you stopped? When were you not cranky anymore about your...
MICHAEL: Yeah, it took about three weeks. I think my crankiness was subsiding from a foot injury.
KATY: I got a different.
MICHAEL: How do you remember it?
KATY: I remember ice in the freezer for a long time. Like, you're ice in your foot for a long time.
MICHAEL: I was, yeah, and rolling it on frozen bottles.
KATY: You just get out of the habit. And again, for people who deal with more extreme injuries or disabilities every day, where this is a reality that you deal with every single day sort of indefinitely, I think what the contrast of being not injured to injured is big at first. And then you just start out going, "Okay, this is what I need to take care of myself today." And as you develop that care, whether it's ice or heat or massage or whatever, it stops bothering you so much because I think so much of the bother is I can't... This is messing up with the way I've structured my life. Like that's sort of, I mean, there's the pain of it. But so much of it is just, it feels like an inconvenience to the life that to the future plans that you had set up that haven't come up yet.
MICHAEL: It's almost like a breakup. It's like suddenly the way you saw your life going is gone. But then days go by and you're like, "Oh, I'm still just living. I'm just living now while also taking care of my foot."
KATY: You're just living. It's a stage.
KATY: So for me, just also how long is this going to take? I know it's a common question. And for me, it was like five months. Five months. And I am not even back up to my regular walking volume. I made myself do two long, hard things, and I got back into minimal footwear. But even sometimes now, we did a very long uphill hike yesterday. We spent six hours on our feet yesterday doing hiking, and I wore my very flexible minimal shoes because I like them. I feel good in them. I was sore, and where I was sore was not just in my general foot, but at those places. So when I got up for a morning walk this morning, I chose my stiffer shoe to give me support. So I feel like injuries take sometimes a very long time, months. And what I'm hoping is with a framework of sort of knowing that this is a stage that has an end, even if the end doesn't look exactly like you did at the beginning of your stage... I think we're sort of obsessed with going back.
MICHAEL: I always assume it's going to be different on the other side. This is the beginning of a change.
KATY: That's right. And so you're very good at that; where you really see these are life experiences that leave you changed. They leave you changed.
MICHAEL: Physically and mentally. Mentally.
KATY: Yeah, there is no going back.
KATY: There's no going back. That being said, that's not to say that you don't want to work towards where you want to go. You might not be going back to the same version of your body, but I don't think that we have to abandon the things that we want to do because of an injury. I do think you need to have a good plan, though, and make it a priority. And I think that's where most of us fall down.
MICHAEL: And strategize better. Strategize in a way that'll make it so that I am unlikely to get such an injury again.
KATY: Yeah. Which does that mean not playing? I mean, you're back to playing soccer.
MICHAEL: I'm back to playing soccer, and I would say I'm probably half a step slower than I was. And that's fine. I just enjoy playing soccer. I don't need to continue to be at the level ...
KATY: Be a bag of injuries out there...
MICHAEL: ... I was at 25, but I'm happy to be back out there playing.
KATY: Yeah. So getting yourself back out there, if that's indeed what you want to do, which I imagine for most people, it is.
MICHAEL: Yeah, or having the ability to walk painlessly and effectively. I mean, all those list of things.
KATY: All right. Okay. Thanks for sharing some of your journey with me, literally, and on this podcast. Are those both literally?
MICHAEL: Yeah, I'm not sure they're literally threw me, but you're
KATY: I guess I, yeah. Well, I wanted to say, like, there's literally and metaphorically.
MICHAEL: We did literally go.
KATY: Are we journeying right now? This is not a journey. This is a podcast.
MICHAEL: Right. All right. So when you said literally,I assume you meant the trip that we were on when we hurt our feet.
KATY: I meant just walking with you, side by side. All right.
MICHAEL: I'll literally see you later.
KATY: Maybe. I'll metaphorically see you later.
Okay. So we covered a lot of ground in this episode. Here is a recap of the framework that I like to keep in mind as I'm troubleshooting an injury.
First: Take stock. Rarely is an entire body incapacitated so you can talk to your healthcare team to identify the location and also yourself. Pay attention to where exactly your issue is located in your body and what types of movement exacerbate it.
Two: Figure out how to keep the other parts of your body moving. So can you cycle or swim? If you're a runner, could you walk? Can you do strengthening exercises for some parts of your body without needing to move? Maybe the parts of you that can't move as well. Because there are a lot of exercises out there.
Three: Seek therapy when the injury warrants it. For these just getting - so-called just getting older - injuries. There's often not a lot that can be done. You're just sort of waiting to heal. But if you have access to physical therapy or other therapeutic modes. For example, I was talking about that I used a really skilled body worker to help get into this area of my ankle that I couldn't otherwise get to. You might need some of that therapy to make progress. So just again, you're paying attention to yourself and you're monitoring how what you're doing is affecting what you're able to do.
Four: Prioritize therapeutic and corrective exercises, not only fitness. If you're given exercises from your healthcare team, do them and also do your whole body movement. These types of movements do different things and you need them both. So the therapy exercises aren't going to be enough to maintain fitness and fitness exercises aren't necessarily going to be the movements to get you out of your injury. So you need both.
Five: Make a plan that will help you get back to doing the things that you like to do with your body. This is self-led. This is where you identify the things that you want to do with your body as being like, not deal breakers, but really of quite importance to you. That will help with you adhering, sticking to all the other steps. Rarely are movements off the table. Rarely are like big modes, sports off the table indefinitely. But oftentimes the physical training that you're doing isn't specific enough to get you back on the trail or in the field or on a bike or whatever it is for you. So, sort of like I just said, with big body or fitness exercise and corrective exercise needing to come out of the injury, those can help you. If you're doing both, it can help you stay fit and get out of your injury, but it won't necessarily train you back to where you were before you got the injury. So you need to get back into your particular - we'll call it a sport - your particular sport in a stepwise fashion. So make sure that that is on your mind as well too. What would someone getting into the sport, even though you've been, you're a veteran of this sport, what would it look like if you had to create a program that was to get a body that wasn't used to doing that, to doing it? You might have the skill and the know how in your mind, but you've lost some anatomy along the way and that has to be rebuilt. Don't be discouraged. It just takes time.
Six: In the case of foot injuries specifically - everything before was really applicable to really many different injuries - but in the case of foot injuries, make adjustments to your footwear as needed. So I'm really gearing this one towards people who are already using minimal shoes and are not sure when that lack of support is contributing or preventing something from healing.
So play with the different characteristics of a minimal shoe. Although different characteristics of a shoe overall: shoe flexibility, toe box width, how well the upper is attached, and how high the heel is. You might be able to be minimal in some and not minimal in others. But this is temporary, right? You're making your footwear change as part of your healing and you might need a new plan when you're on the other side of it. And you might need to add more support. Like maybe the things that you're doing with your feet were not supported well by the foot strength. So again, it all relates to your movement diet and what you're doing with your body and where you might need some support and where you might need to take away support so that you can build strength.
Finally, when you've moved past this injury, prioritize body movement if only to enter your next injury, even more prepared. These only come up more often as tissues change. So be ready, not only for the peaks, but for the valleys of life too.
I talked a lot about corrective exercise in this episode because I think in many cases, it's the thing that folks need to get their bodies moving better in the ways they want them to. Think of the small movements of corrective exercise as like vitamins and minerals that might be missing from your diet.
Check out my virtual studio to find 175 different workouts with me, each digging into a different part of the body or a different topic like balancing or arching the back without pain. Learn more at NutritiousMovement .com/vsm - that's short for virtual studio membership and you can take a sample class there too. That's NutritiousMovement .com/vsm.
Hi, my name is Marcia from Australia. This has been a Move Your DNA with Katy Bowman, a podcast about movement. We hope you find the general information in this podcast informative and helpful, but it's not intended to replace medical advice and should not be used as such. Our team music was performed by Dan MacCormick. This podcast is produced by Brock Armstrong and is transcribed by Annette Yen. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to audio. And find out more about Katy, her books and her movement programs at NutritiousMovement.com.