It Starts With Feet – Podcast Episode #85

Katy Bowman tells Stephanie Domet why she’s written two books about feet, and why she could easily write a bunch more.


00:04:46 – Why two books on feet? Jump to section

00:12:17 –  What you wear on your feet is a whole body issue.Jump to section

00:17:51 – Cellular Deformation. Jump to section

00:24:07 –  It’s not about balance. Jump to section

00:27:12 – Podcast Exclusive foot relief tip! Jump to section

00:34:39 – It is about  adaptation. Jump to section

00:43:55 – Let’s Move! Jump to section

00:46:39 – Bookclub discount for podcast Listeners. Jump to section

00:47:14 – Where’s Katy in September. Jump to section

00:48:51 – Next Up:  Don’t Just Sit There. Jump to section


Links and Resources Mentioned in this show:

Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief

Whole Body Barefoot

Movement Matters

Minimal Shoes of all Kinds

All of Katy’s books


Special Book Club Offer for Podcast Listeners

Take five dollars off any book, using our special podcast listener code (podcast5) here.


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Access all previous podcasts via your podcast provider of choice (Stitcher, iTunes, Libsyn, or Soundcloud).


Podcast Transcript



STEPHANIE: Hey there. Welcome to the Katy Says podcast. This is the fifth in a series of special episodes that we are calling Between the Lines. In this series Katy Bowman and Stephanie Domet explore the deeper messages in, and connections between Katy’s books.


KATY:  I’m Katy B., biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA.


STEPHANIE: And I am Stephanie D., a chronically curious writer and radio journalist. Katy, I think we should say a little bit about this series because here we are 5 episodes in. Some newcomers might not know what we’re up to. So, we’re thinking of these Between the Lines episodes as kind of book club. Why did you want to offer a series of conversations specifically about your books?


KATY:  Well, I think that my books reflect the greatest source of my ideas. I wrote blog posts for so long and they’re kind of, there’s a ton of information on the blog, just like there is in the podcast.  But they’re not particularly connected, so I’m not sure … I mean, I’ve had a lot of people feedback and say, “I love the short form. I love walking away from a blog post or an episode with one single piece of information.” So I think that there’s many people who find value in the short form. And then you could also say that maybe some of my books, because there’s so many, there are 8, so the number alone I would say, lends itself to doing a book club.  Because that’s a pretty large number of books. I mean I don’t even know if there are that many Twilight books.  Are there 8 in the Twilight…


STEPHANIE: You’re asking the wrong guy.


KATY: Yeah, yeah, sorry.  


STEPHANIE: Katy Bowman: more prolific than Stephenie Meyer.


KATY: You even know the name.


STEPHANIE: I mean, I’m just good. I know my stuff.


KATY:  So, if you would look at all the titles going across you’d be like, “Huh – Diastasis Recti, there’s a couple of foot books.  There’s something about… there’s some movement stuff going on…” but they seem really, perhaps, unrelated if you were to just look at the covers of all of them. Which we’ve been warned not to do, but, maybe we do anyway. So I thought, especially for people who have trained extensively with us in our training program and for people who’ve been following for a long period of time, there’s a lot of meat in these books. So the books could each be said to be like many blog posts and many podcast episodes assembled into one long thread. But the books themselves, these seemingly unrelated books, when you assemble them together you get an even larger picture.  But that’s reading 8 books. And that’s reading 8 books close to each other while also maybe reading blog posts and listening to the podcasts.  And I think in such, like, one kind of global way that I see every single thing that I’ve ever put out, including articles that I’ve written for other publications, I see them all as one body of work. And so if you’re missing half of that, it’s kind of like, “Huh, I don’t really get this one thing.”  And it’s like yeah that’s because it’s buried in this one book called Diastasis Recti and you’re a 27-year-old dude and you didn’t know that there was anything for you in that book. So I thought that, well, I can do the work. I can do that work for everyone listening. It’s like no assembly required. Perhaps I could do some of it and so maybe people who had listened to one or two episodes or more, or who read a couple of books could see that. We get a tremendous number of questions. Tremendous.  And I would say that 99.9% of them are answered in the material that I’ve put out. Meaning that answer is already available and assembled, but it’s not easy to see until you pass through it. And I don’t expect anyone to pass through it without realizing why they might want to. So that’s the reason for the book club. It’s like I’ll assemble, I’ll weave some of the tapestry for you here. You and I can do that together. And then, I think, then those little bits that you’re trying to impart in your life, the practical, I think that once your mind has shifted to grasp some of the different, the other concepts, the practical becomes even easier.  And you’re finding that there’s more space for the practical now that you see where you could go by doing so. So that’s the intention.


STEPHANIE: And so far we’ve talked about Alignment Matters and Movement Matters as they relate to each other. And there will be lots more, I think, on Movement Matters to come. We’ve talked about Move Your DNA. We’ve talked about Dynamic Aging. And so today I thought we should tackle your two foot books:  Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief and Whole Body Barefoot.  

So the obvious question to me is why two books on feet?  Is that one for one left and one right? One for each foot?


KATY: Exactly.




KATY: One for each foot. I didn’t want anyone to be left out.  Wouldn’t that be funny if I wrote This is the Book for Your Right Foot?


STEPHANIE: Ever more specialized.


KATY: And This is the Book for Your Left Foot.  Well, if I had to write part by part it would take a long time.


STEPHANIE: (laughs)


KATY: But two foot books because I, I mean I guess two reasons.  1) There’s a lot of parts in a small area. So if you’re gonna go with the move more/move more of you, which we tackled in I think Move Your DNA.  Since most of us are shod, a one-word way of saying have always worn shoes, it means that it’s a tremendously sedentary area. And so for me starting with the foot brings about the greatest reward because it is maybe the most sedentary area on your body, even if you are super duper athletico.  It would still be, if you have been shod, maybe the most sedentary area on your body. So it’s just a tremendous results potential.  That’s not the reason that I wrote it, but anytime anyone asks me, “where do I start”, I always say start with your feet because yes it is your foundation. There’s not really many motions that don’t initiate or pass through your feet. So if you’re trying to work on your calves or your knees or your hips or your spine or your pelvis or your lower back or your neck, mechanically speaking the foot is, we say, setting the platform or being the foundation. But those are being very sedentary to me. I think of a platform and a foundation as being fixed.


STEPHANIE: Right. Solid blocks.


KATY: Exactly. And I don’t know if we want to keep saying that because it’s really more like, I think it’s more like when you launch a ship, that platform that the shuttle is moving from is moveable. Right? It’s coming in and it’s coming out. So you’re launching your movements from this platform and imagine if the shuttle platform wasn’t all flat and level, but slightly tipped one way, how that would affect the entire trajectory of the shuttle.  So it’s like your launching pad for every single movement is highly sedentary, has lost its strength. Has lost its malleability. So it means that every move -if you’ve got this super complex – there’s 33 joints in each foot – 25% of the number of muscles and bones in your body are from the ankle down. I’ve said this over and over again.


STEPHANIE: And it blows my mind every time.


KATY: It is. Because it’s one-quarter.  One-quarter of the positions available to your body start in the feet. If your feet can only get into one or two positions, all of that nuanced movement is lost. Which means you’re launching point for all other motions is reduced down to those two positions. So you’re moving exponentially less because of your immobile feet.  So it’s kind of like a no-brainer to start there because it not only helps you move more, you’re moving way more of you every time you launch but secondly, people are saying, “I don’t have much time really.”  




KATY: “If I’m looking for a way to be a non-exercise mover, what do I do.” It’s like put something different on your feet than what you’re putting on now.  That is really casting your entire body.  That’s why for Whole Body Barefoot – I wrote Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief was my first book. It is now Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief. It’s been slightly updated and…


STEPHANIE: Because dudes have foot pain too.


KATY: Well and exactly. And I originally wrote it as both but they’re like, women have at least statistically what’s been researched, more foot pain… it was like 1 in 4 women have such great foot pain that they can’t move the rest of their body. Meaning that they have to be on rest.  It’s very interesting.  I went to a women’s gathering group.




KATY: For a weekend for a retreat.  And there weren’t very many, you know, it was 600 women, just statistics wise. There weren’t very many, as far as injuries, there were no casts or braces, so I’m scanning with my eyes. That’s where this data is about to come from. And I saw 14 women with foot immobilizing casts. Like would have a foot fracture soft cast.


STEPHANIE: Huh.  Fourteen?


KATY: Fourteen.  And these are women who have come to do, it was all in the woods, bumpy ground, and they were gonna suck it up and do it anyway. But I was like that’s so interesting to me that of all, 100% of the visual injuries I were seeing were all of one foot. Very common for foot fractures and it’s a very common injury.  And you see, and they’re young women. It’s not an older person’s injury by any means. They’re active, they’re runners…so you just see it over and over again. It just stuck out to me like, wow, look at all the foot casts on this group of, you know at least active in the forest women.




KATY: Where there’s nothing else. There’s no wrists, there’s no broken arms, there’s no back braces. There’s just the foot – one on one foot.  So the reason that I wrote Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief was for that. You know out of all of the questions that I would get, multi-generational – when it was one particular group it was pelvic floor always, but multi-generational it was always the feet or if someone was like, “What about my pelvic floor?” I’d be like, “Well do this.”  And they’d be like, “Oh I can’t do that because my ankles don’t move.”




KATY: And I was like, “Ok…so then what I’m gonna give you for your pelvic floor, we have to start with the feet.”  So it’s like a hybrid of the fact that it’s problematic … the feet are problematic for so many people to the extent that it’s casted or made sedentary more than just the foot. It’s really such an easy place to start and so many people coming for knee, hip, back, pelvic floor, you know, and they’re coming for exercises to mobilize the rest of their body. Once we got them moving their feet differently and standing upon their feet differently they didn’t even have to do anything for their back or their pelvic floor because it was like, when your feet are moving with the rest of your legs, that takes care of moving these other parts that, for example, the pelvic floor, that you’re just standing and clenching in isolation.




KATY: That’s a movement that comes because you’re passing over your foot in a particular way. But we don’t think of the pelvic floor as related to how the foot is articulating with the ground.  So that’s why feet. It’s just like, I don’t think there’s not anyone who wouldn’t be informed or made more mobile by working through those books.



STEPHANIE:  Here’s something that really stood out for me the last time I read Whole Body Barefoot. You write:  What you wear on your feet is a whole body issue and not limited to the feet at all. Because you are not one single body but a body fashioned out of trillions of smaller cellular bodies. The shoe you put on is never going on just your foot. You’re putting that shoe onto a body of a trillion cells.  And likewise, when you change your shoes, every cell in your body feels it.


KATY:  Mmm.


STEPHANIE:  Yeah. That just, I copied it out of the e-book and pasted it into a document to ask you about later. And it seems to me after our Move Your DNA conversation that that feels very Move Your DNA to me.  How crucial a point is this to understand in what you’re ultimately saying about feet and what we put on them and how we use them.


KATY: It’s so critical. It’s also, to me that sentence is about movement: The difference between exercise and movement.  You know, when you put something on your feet in the morning, you’re not exercising.  It’s not exercising based on how you walk in the shoe that you put on but you are being moved by the shoes that you put on.  And because we don’t think in terms of movement but only exercise, we don’t think in terms of cellular deformation. And so that sentence is about you’re being moved all day long from the ground up. Your environment is moving you. Your footwear is your environment. And so that’s why… I don’t even know if that particularly comes across because in Move Your DNA I still have to work at the level where – in the next book where it will be basically calling out non-exercise movement in clarifying that you’re being shaped by your environment.  And I think people can get the fact that the terrain that you’re walking on is uphill or downhill or it’s bumpy or slippery. They can get those external pieces because, in my examples, you’re moving over them.  So, therefore, it kind of still relates to exercise a little bit because your arms and legs are going but simply putting on footwear is pushing on you.  And so if you picked up a weight and did a particular set of exercises you would know that that would mean that this muscle is gonna grow over here and this one is going to atrophy. Like we’ve got this sense of form in exercise.  Your personal trainer helps you work with your form because you’re trying to eek out a particular shape. It’s like, but you’ll slap anything on your foot not realizing that that’s the movement that you chose to do all day and that you’re pushing and pulling cells and putting muscles over here and letting other muscles atrophy over here or down to the bone level or the nerve health level, the skin level, that all these tissues, just like you’re at the gym. You’re growing and shaping them and you maybe didn’t even know it.  And for people, you know, I’m always interested in what the fitness sector is in to because that group, in particular, has already made this decision: “I’m going to use the mode of exercise to push my body around to a particular experience.”  It’s the people in pain who are not regularly given access to the idea that their environment and the way that they’re moving through it can be relating to that.  And so it was like, you’ve got this, you know, you’re creating a high-pressure situation here. Can you back up off of that pressure situation and maybe let these tissues adapt to something different.  And, again, the reason that trillion body thing is so important is what you put on your feet isn’t only affecting you from the ankle down.




KATY: It’s not about, it’s not only about foot pain. It’s easiest, I would say, to say, “Hey your foot’s bothering you. Let’s look at what’s on your feet.” It’s different to say, “Hey, you have chronic tension in your neck?  Let’s look at what’s on your feet.”  You know. Even though the distance isn’t that great between the two, but to explain a set of forces being created. You know, well, there’s this thing called angular acceleration. When you put this on your foot, if you raise the heel above your toe all the time, that’s creating a particular tension in the lower part of the body which kind of slows the lower part of the body down relative to the upper body. So you walking that shoe is the same mechanics as a whiplash injury in a car only you get one with every step but at very low speed so the effects compound.




KATY: So I get into that later on but I feel like the first level is, “Did you know that what you put on your foot is affecting the rest of your body?” And I think that’s radical for a lot of people initially. So yeah, it does relate back to the cellular well being because we think of injury as, again, a foot injury, a back injury, whatever. We don’t necessarily think of it as just cellular behavior. Because it has a name and a code on your insurance that it, well a lot of these things are just cellular phenomenons when you break them down. Movement can be a cellular phenomenon and a bulging disc can be a cellular phenomenon as well. So it just kind of breaking everything down in a slightly smaller level and saying everything you do matters. Starting with what’s on your feet.



STEPHANIE:  And I want to unpack just two concepts quickly. Just to make sure that I understand them.  Cellular deformation. When I hear deformed I think that’s not good. But what we want is to deform ourselves on the regular, right? We want to be like squishing ourselves, putting them into different configurations. That’s a goal. Is that right?


KATY: Right.




KATY: Yeah, deformed just means to have the shape be changed. And so that’s movement. That’s what movement is. It’s a change in shape. If there is no deformation there is no movement.


STEPHANIE:  Ok. So I’m aiming for deformation here.


KATY: Yes. And constant different deformations, right?  Because that means that you’re moving in a lot of different ways. You’re moving a lot.




KATY: Just having one deformation over and over again, that kind of stops being movement because it’s just static in a different position. Like the differences between such a long… over such a long period of time, it stops being recognized as a difference.  So yes, you want cellular deformation – deformations, maybe.




KATY: So implying change.


STEPHANIE:  And then the other thing is one of the first things you said in this conversation is it was about your feet being sedentary. So even if you are, like a long distance runner and you’re running, I don’t know, how many miles a week does a long distance runner run?  But you’re doing it in a sort of traditional built up running shoe, your feet are moving over the earth but they’re not moving in that shoe necessarily. And so then they’re sedentary even though they’re tracking x number of miles.


KATY: Yeah, like the feet, it all depends on how you think of the feet.  If you think of them as just one thing being displaced over the earth, it’s like, “My feet have been moved.”  It’s like well there’s another way of looking at it which is, the part within the foot moving relative to each other and in that case it would be sedentary. So it all depends on how you are defining these terms. But yeah, you can be in a shoe that immobilizes you and then you can be selecting terrain that further immobilizes you.


STEPHANIE:   A running shoe on a hard paved path.


KATY: On a hard paved flat path. You know, like, there’s so many different variables that eek out movement. And then to say like you can be in something malleable. You could be in a, you could be barefoot. Maybe you’re a barefoot runner but you are barefoot on flat paved… you’re still gonna have large elements of sedentarism within the foot because you’ve eliminated grade and texture and so your terrain is void of parts that would deform the parts of your foot. And so, therefore, you could still even unshod, still be sedentary.




KATY: Less so than when you’re wearing a stiff shoe but it’s all a continuum.


STEPHANIE:  Because it’s still your environment that you’re putting that foot in.


KATY: Sure.  You’re being moved from the outside, often times.


STEPHANIE:  Yeah. Okay. All right. So let’s look at these two books. Who would you say Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief is for?


KATY:  It’s definitely a lay person book. I wrote it with my grandmother in mind who had a debilitating – had beautiful feet and debilitating foot pain. And has since gone on to numerous joint replacements. But I just kind of wrote it for her. It’s kind of, it’s fun, you know. I keep everything that I write very light, I would say. It’s  jargon free for the most part.  Except for a few key terms. I mean it’s like the first toe, the second toe, the third toe, the fourth toe. It’s very accessible.




KATY:  It’s also, that being said, I would say that the information within it would be helpful to even, I mean is it number 1 in podiatry. It’s in the top 10 in podiatry.


STEPHANIE:  It’s a number 1 bestseller in podiatry since the day it came out.


KATY: Yeah, and I had a lot of podiatrists review it and say, “This is great.”  Because it doesn’t have to be jargon rich to be new or novel or good scientific information.  Good anatomical information. Just because I’ve chosen to leave the words out that are inclusive only to a few who have had a particular training.  The ideas are sophisticated.  So lay person doesn’t mean easy or dumbed down.   It just simply means that I’ve pinged myself. Not pinged at all.


STEPHANIE:  No don’t do that.


KATY:  No, no no no.  I’ve just thoughtfully made it for the people who I think need it the most. Which is the person out there with no anatomical background at all who was like, “Oh, I can lift my first toe?”  


STEPHANIE:  Yeah. These things can work independently of each other?  What?


KATY: Yes. Yes, yes, yes.  Which I’ve seen people teach feet and they’re teaching them so complicated and no one but people already interested in movement are even gonna grasp that.




KATY:  And so it’s just real simple. It’s simple things you can do in a chair. I mean I made it for people who aren’t quite as mobile. But again athletes or like people who are excellent movers are like, “I learn a lot from that book.”  I would say that Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief has greater content about shoes. I go into shoe anatomy more.  So it’s really a good counterpart to Whole Body Barefoot where you get more into feet and gait.  Where Simple Steps is like, “ok, here’s how to really understand what I’m talking about as far as the parts of a shoe so that you can then go out and change elements of your footwear by choosing to buy something…”  Playing around. Like you learn what does an upper do?  Because maybe there’s an aspect of the shoe that you require…




KATY: So you can’t go minimal all the way but there’s 3 other elements or 4 other elements that you can play with. So it just makes – it makes you more aware that you get to choose the amount of casting you put on your foot. Or the way that you’re being casted so that you can let it work for you. You can get the benefit of the shoe while still getting the benefit of foot movement.  Right? So that’s my end goal.



STEPHANIE:  So let’s say I’m somebody who works in an office and I have a weakness for shoes with a bit of a heel, let’s just say. So is Simple Steps saying I can balance time in heeled shoes with the exercises and the correctives that you offer and maybe work in a little more thoughtfully barefoot time and still be better – even if most days I’m gonna wear my heeled shoes to work and probably just sit at my desk all day?


KATY: Well, it doesn’t give permission to balance.  Because I think, like a good dietitian, I don’t think will say that you can balance off, I use this example a lot, you can balance off a creme brulee with a salad. It doesn’t work that way. It’s all input.  However, if you have, if you love these shoes and these shoes are bringing you joy and you identify with them so strongly that to let them go would thwart you from thinking about that you can take better care of your feet – that’s what the book is saying. It’s like if you – it’s like if you work at a desk job, like your shoes are also your desk job.  I’ve never said you have to quit your desk job. I might have implied it a couple of times.  But I’m not gonna state it outright. But it’s just more like, it’s not about balance, it’s at looking at the nontime that you’re doing the thing and making sure that you’re moving more during that time. So if you have, I did so much publicity for that book when it first came out which was right around the holiday time.  And if you go back through the archives like on Facebook you can see these articles. I did so many articles for the high heel hangover.  Which is, I was doing a lot of PR in New York City where everyone is wearing…I shouldn’t say everyone… well everyone that I saw in the magazine industry, were rocking like 3-4 inch heels.  They were all in their 20s and early 30s and had only been wearing these shoes for a short time. Professionalism – they associate professionalism with this particular set of footwear and they’re setting the trends and they just couldn’t do an article – never – to say that the shoes, the heels weren’t  really helping you on x, y, z.  Every article had to be about balancing the fact that you wanted to wear them with “well what do I do in the morning.”


STEPHANIE:  Right because my feet are killing me.


KATY: Exactly. So I was like you wouldn’t write about any other health input like, “Oh my gosh I gorged myself on ice cream last night. Like a tub and a half, 2 tubs. What do I do the next day?” You know and then they give advice, they give purging. It’s like purging. Like there’s a belief that you can actually purge. So I don’t like to reinforce that mindset because I find it a very dangerous mindset. To believe that you purge off behaviors that you know are, by your own data collection, doing you harm.  So there would be a couple word choices. Never balance. Never even in moderation…that’s another thing that I like to stay away from. But it would be more like “oh, here’s some ways to move more the next day.”  Move differently. Reload your feet.  And my favorite tip which is not in any book but I’ll leave right here on this podcast.



STEPHANIE:  This is like a podcast exclusive. I just got closer to my headphones.


KATY: It is. It’s that you always keep a water bottle, a small water bottle, frozen in the freezer and when you wake up the next morning, you roll it under your feet so you’re getting the icing, the cooling with also the pressure or the mobility.  So it’s a twofer.


STEPHANIE:  Amazing.


KATY: So that’s my High Heel Hangover – that’s the Salty Dog of the next day.


STEPHANIE:  You heard it here first folks!


KATY: Exactly.


STEPHANIE:  That was an exclusive Between the Lines Podcast tip.


KATY: Exclusive!  So to finish your question Whole Body Barefoot is for … it’s more technical. It has more mechanics in it. So in my mind, I just thought it’d be the next book for the person who already read the first one. Like I don’t think it’s too jargon heavy or technical. If you read the first one it’s more exercises, more deeper explanation. It’s also a great off shoot of Move Your DNA if you’re like, “OK I love Move Your DNA but what can I do now? How do I dig in?” It’s like well then Whole Body Barefoot would be a great next one because now you can really get into gait and terrain and some corrective exercises for your feet that aren’t the 70 exercises. Maybe one or two of them are there. But that you’re really kind of expanding like “I’m gonna work on my feet right now. I’m gonna work on my gait, on my stance.”  And then also professionals.  Professionals like Physios and for the people who I had to review that book….for my first book it was like podiatrists – people who see people in foot pain. That’s totally different than who athletes tend to go through for their health information. So podiatrists really do see the bulk of the population most of which is non-exercising and sedentary. So that’s really their most frequented person. Not the person willing to do a bunch of corrective exercise. So I wrote that book kind of for the podiatry crowd. Whole Body Barefoot is for people who, I think, are already pretty active on their feet. They are exercisers or athletes or people keen to mechanics who … you know I had a lot of orthopedic surgeons who said, “This is an awesome book.:  I like the way it’s explained because it makes sense to the orthos and also anatomists and also back to the cellular crowd. So it’s just a good second. Like if you were a total lay person I would start with Simple Steps and then go to Whole Body Barefoot. I guess everyone could kind of do that.  Or you could jump right to Whole Body Barefoot. So I wrote – it’s more technical. I don’t know if my grandmother would pick up Whole Body Barefoot.


STEPHANIE:  Yeah because that’s really asking a little bit more from readers, right?  It’s right there in the title. One book promises Simple Steps and the other indicates, “you know what, this is actually bigger than just my feet.”  


KATY: Yeah. And also transitioning to minimal footwear.  Like there’s an intention in that book: This is for people who maybe already want to, I mean there’s a lot of people who made the transition to minimal footwear and ended up with big injuries. And there’s a lot of “barefoot is best”  mentality out there in the barefoot or running communities. But people were so, they were just injured.  They were injured and I don’t think that they knew why. And that took away a lot of the credibility for that barefoot is a state. The amount of injuries, I think, led the industry of the people who are in charge of publishing foot health information – which is podiatry – it kind of like discredited this idea that your feet are strong enough to move unshod. Because it wasn’t a very deep argument. It didn’t take into consideration adaptation, transition time, environment, the movement habits surrounding your single athletic barefoot bout. So I just wanted to broaden the discussion because I felt like I love the barefoot, minimal footwear, movement. I think it might be one of the single … I almost said single handedly.


STEPHANIE:  Single-footedly?


KATY: Exactly!  It’s going to make a lot of people move more of them with ease. Just by consuming differently. Like not even any other exercises. So it’s important to me, I think, to make sure the discussion stays robust and everyone understands how they relate to it, how they can participate in it, and how they can transition more into it. So I wanted that book to be there. And it is and it’s done really well. So I’m glad for that.


STEPHANIE:  You make the point that it could take somebody years…


KATY:  Sure.


STEPHANIE:  …to transition to a minimal shoe. And that you shouldn’t have the expectation that you’re gonna read this book, put it down, go get a pair of earth runners and hit the road safely.


KATY: Right.  But also that everyone can do something. Even the person who says I could never do that because my foot has x, y, and z problems. My point is your foot has x, y, and z problems likely because you’ve never used it.


STEPHANIE:  Yeah. You could still spread your toes and get some benefit.


KATY: Yeah.  And I unstack it. Right? So Whole Body Barefoot is being barefoot on the earth unstacked.




KATY: It’s taking … so this is back to Movement… this is the Movement Matters. All of my exercise books are unstacked versions of the natural thing.




KATY: So it’s like, being barefoot on the earth. Great.  That is the thing that we’re discussing that is beneficial. What are the nutrients that you experience in that? Ok, texture.  Ok, all right. So you’re in your house, you’ve never been unshod before. We’re not gonna go running over your backyard. You’re gonna start with a tennis ball. That is the least amount of pressure and there’s no points on it or anything to cut you or harm you at all and you’re just going to start rolling your foot over it. That later is a component on you stepping on a rock on a six-hour barefoot hike, you know, carrying a kid or a backpack. But it starts with a very low dose of vitamin texture. And all of the things. You know, tucking, doing the top of the foot stretch; which is reaching your foot behind you tucking your toes under. That’s you sitting the ground with your feet tucked beneath you. A position that most people can’t do. But it’s the first step. It’s a low dose. It’s one nutrient pulled out of a food. So that’s why nutritious movement words are there. Because these are the minerals and vitamins that end up making up the thing that you want to do. But you have to re-nourish yourself before you jump right into it. It’s like re-releasing an animal into the wild. You have to train it back into behaviors that it doesn’t know anything about.




KATY:  So that’s what the transitioning is for. We’re simulating many aspects of moving around unshod outside so that when you go do it you’re more adapted to it without having even done it before.



STEPHANIE:  In Whole Body Barefoot you write: We have this idea that the body can endlessly adapt to whatever we choose to do but that’s not the case. We can adapt for a while but there is always a biological tax. And in many cases, this tax is so far removed from the initial point of compensation we don’t even associate the two which keeps us consuming the problematic load. So that’s a quote from Whole Body Barefoot.  And when I think about climate change, Katy, I think about humankind’s ability to adapt to just about anything and the ways in which maybe that keeps us from doing the work  we ought to be doing now to mitigate climate changes as best we can. We think “Eh, we’ll adapt.”  We’re endlessly adaptable. And when I re-read that passage in Whole Body Barefoot it made me think instantly of Movement Matters. Can you talk about the ways about that passage in Whole Body Barefoot is perhaps related to the thesis of Movement Matters?


KATY: Gosh. I can. You know I can.


STEPHANIE:  I know you can. Will you?


KATY:  You know I will. Yeah.  It’s like I’m interested in the idea of what adaptation actually means. There’s a lot of words that get mixed up in our thoughts and we forget where the sources of the words come from. But just so everyone knows, adaptation in a biological sense is a change. Or sort of the process of change by which an organism, us, becomes better suited to its environment.  Adaptation is a process and adaptation, I guess is the actual change itself.  So I’ve been fascinated with the idea that if the state of your body right now requires a technology to work within the environment that it’s in, is that technology now part of your anatomy?


STEPHANIE:  Your arm brace or your knee brace or …


KATY: Or your shoe. We can just keep it on shoes. It doesn’t have to be injurious.




KATY: So I think we want to go to the thing that’s wrong with us because we don’t think that footwear… that we’ve adapted to it, right? We don’t think of it as what’s wrong with us. But if you can’t go outside without it, if you can’t take a walk without it, if you’re other biological functions can’t perform without it – it’s like an exoskeleton of sorts.  That’s how I’ve been thinking about my house and my shoes and my jackets. It’s like oh these are parts of me that I could not survive without. I have an exoskeleton now. And the things that I’m putting on my body are all stand ins for something that my body used to be able to do. So I have a hard time not seeing footwear as my anatomy. And I understand what the actual definition of anatomy is. But because we create the language and the definitions they lend themselves very well to seeing that there is no problem.




KATY: Right? So seeing that there is no problem because I’m functioning just fine without looking around to say, “And here’s the list of things that I’m just fine with. And here’s the cost of those things.” That’s the Movement Matters aspect of it. My sedentarism, let’s just say off my feet for the sake of this podcast, requires a very large displacement of people and earth stuff.  Now I, the reason it’s not part of my anatomy though is because I could adapt to something else. Meaning I could lose those shoes, and I’ve gone through the process of losing them. Through my own efforts, I can harvest less. I mean, first of all, anyone can do this just by getting rid of the number of pairs of shoes that they have. Anyone can harvest less.  Let’s just get down to one pair of shoes.




KATY: Then with that one pair of shoes you can choose what the sources are for that. You can harvest less based on what type of shoe you choose to get. And you have to figure out what the displacement of earth’s stuff are for that one pair of shoes that you get. Obviously, if you make your own shoes by hand you’ve outsourced even less. Right?  So it’s all Movement Matters at this point. So I’ve been able to have way less shoes, just out of preference. Like I can choose to have a preference for less number of shoes. And then I can choose to do more work with my arms and legs to make my own pair of shoes. But then it gets into, and then I can engage in this training program to start to improve the anatomy of my own feet. I have that potential to do so, to the extent where I need to wear my shoes less, which means they wear out in a shorter period of time. So you just keep working backwards to see, what do I need. And it’s a very long transition. There’s still activities that I want to engage in that require I wear footwear.




KATY: But I could adapt to being fully barefoot if I made that my intention and I set up my life to be able to do that. Which means I would have to give up other things which really aren’t enhancing my particular anatomy. I would have to do that. Which is – that’s the thing.




KATY:  And then I could adapt to something – to not needing that technology as an exoskeleton. That’s really the process that I’m in right now. Is slowly moving away from needing so much exoskeleton because it is a – because I require it right now to be fine. So my level to adaptation is to my environment which includes the stuff, so if I want less stuff and I have lots of motivations for why I want less stuff. It used to be solely for physical robusticity.  But now I have been able to link my physical robusticity to other things that I’m interested in, which is the state of the planet… and other social justice issues. I’ve been able to kind of work backwards to that. Now I’m motivated to change my life. It’s not just for strong feet. Which is where I started.  And so that’s what adaptation is. You could, through work, and not everyone has that equal capacity because of whatever physical health issues are, but to whatever your capacity is, you probably likely could slough off some exoskeleton through physical work specific for that. So that’s what I’m talking about is to remove the technology.  It’s me stepping back from technology. Footwear is a technology. How can I consume less technology through more movement is the way that you link Movement Matters, I would say to Whole Body Barefoot and Simple Steps.


STEPHANIE:  I just got whole body goosebumps in that answer.


KATY: Horripilation baby.


STEPHANIE:  That’s right. I’m all movement up in here.


KATY: Exactly.


STEPHANIE:  So at the end of the day both of these books are really good on ramps to your work, depends on where a reader is standing. If they’re kind of a rank beginner with some foot pain and some questions, Simple Steps might be the place for them.


KATY: Mmm.


STEPHANIE:  And maybe if they’re a little further down the path or on a slightly different path, they could dive into Whole Body Barefoot and derive quite a bit of benefit from it.  Is that, do you see those books as good places for beginners to start to get a handle.


KATY: I do. One, because foot pain is so prevalent. It’s just like, if you could do just a little more because you’re feet aren’t hurting you, you’ve nailed it.




KATY: You’re having to outsource less movement. So it’s just, it’s a simple way to… or even just the joy in your life. You know, if you’re feeling not joyous because you can’t move – foot pain is a drag!




KATY: It’s like, you’re sitting there. Your mind is like, “let’s do this.” And parts of you want to go and then you get a pressure on your foot and then you’re like, your mindset is thwarted a little bit.




KATY: It just can be a simple thing that is really accessible to many. Even if you didn’t even change your shoes. Even if you just moved your feet out of them a little bit more.  There is no requirement that you go full monty here. Just do something.




KATY: Just do something. Just start with something. And then that’s great. That’s all. Even if you just think, “I’d like to do something” it’s a start.



STEPHANIE:  All right. Well, I am standing on my two feet. They are bare.  Move me. What do you got?


KATY: Let me give you goosebumps again?


STEPHANIE:  Yeah yeah.  


KATY: Well, if you’re standing, if you shift your feet all the way forward – I’m coming very close to the microphone, if you shift your weight all the way forward you can feel the pressure in the front of the foot.  Can you feel that in there?


STEPHANIE:  Oh yeah.


KATY: So much that your heels are almost up.




KATY: This standing state is where a lot of people spend a lot of their time.




KATY: You’ll find this in almost every single one of my books because it’s such a simple way to using more muscle while still standing. So this is the way that a lot of people come to me. Like this. And then if you just shift your weight all the way back – I’m going away from the microphone now – so that you’re on the back of your foot, more towards the heel…




KATY: …like in the center of your heel so that your toes are liftable, that’s an adjustment that you can make 1,000 times a day that moves you more. And it also moves some of you, especially that front part of the foot that for many people is kind of over burdened. That’s what I mean like you can’t endlessly adapt. The fact that you carry all the weight on the front of your foot, you’re not going to… like there’s a… in Move Your DNA I use the view-master as kind of an analogy of … Your tissues are adaptable…




KATY: …but there’s a range of adaptability. So you’ve got a tremendous amount in that range. But there is a range. So if you stand on the front of your foot all the time you’re not going to beef up the front of your foot with like, “Oh we’ll we’ll just grow bigger toe bones to be able to bear down.” You might increase the swelling of the area for a little while to increase pressure to kind of give you a buffer from the pressure. But eventually you kind of start creating a growth within the tissues or a way that the tissues are growing that is what we call certain diseases. Like the hallmark of certain diseases are simply tissue states. And often times they’re just created by the way that we load them.




KATY: They are the tissue state that you would expect through that type of mechanical loading. So they’re not mysteries. They’re like, “Yeah, well you put pressure on there all the time. That’s exactly what I would expect your body to do.”  So let’s take the pressure off.




KATY: So shifting your weight towards your heels and off of the front of the foot is a simple alignment makeover, if you will, that you can do multiple times a day and you don’t have to do it perfectly. You just have to do something. But you’ll notice, if you’re wearing heeled shoes, that you can’t really shift back.  The way that your body is able to balance that heel is by moving forward. And so take off your… get unshod is maybe the first thing that you can do.  Just get something comfortable and safe and then try to back up. So that’s how you can move all trillion of your body parts. Just with that.


STEPHANIE:  So efficient.


KATY: Easy.



STEPHANIE:  So we’ve been talking about Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief and Whole Body Barefoot. Both written by Katy Bowman. Both available in paperback and in e-book formats wherever books are sold; including at where for just a couple more days, we’re at the end of August, just a couple more days you’ll find them on sale, right through the end of August. You can take $5 off any of Katy’s books. Use the code PODCAST5. That’s podcast and the numeral 5. No space in between.  I should note also, Whole Body Barefoot is available at in case you would like to take Katy’s ideas for a walk.


KATY: Mmm.



STEPHANIE:  We call that stacking your life.  Katy, September is right around the corner and I know that you have a lot of dates on the calendar in September. What is up for you in the next few weeks.


KATY: Oooh. Well if you’re in Washington, you’re in luck. I will be at, I’m speaking at the Ancestral Health Symposium in Seattle. And I’m doing two talks on the Olympic Peninsula at local libraries; one on Friday Harbor, which is one of the San Juan islands. It’s like a vacation destination. I’m excited to go there.  Take a three-hour boat ride to get there.


STEPHANIE:  Ah delightful!


KATY: And the other one is in the town that I live in now, Sequim, Washington, at their library which is, it’s going to be super exciting. We’re talking Dynamic Aging and I live in a retirement community.


STEPHANIE:  Amazing.


KATY: And so the last time I did this talk was for Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief when it first came out in I think it was 2011. And there were 100 people crammed in our little library room. And they were all, and they’re all spreading their toes and lifting their toes and they did that hip back up exercise. So it’s been kind of, it’s been kind of fun to live in a small community of people who, many of them moved here to have activity. To have the nature and the movement. So that’s been kind of fun. So those are three places that I will be in September. And then here. You can always keep finding us on the podcast, if you can’t get to September live viewings.


STEPHANIE:  Katy Bowman in her natural environment.


KATY: Exactly.


STEPHANIE:  You’re really not one for just sitting there, Katy.


KATY: I know.



STEPHANIE:  And so, in that spirit, when next we meet, we’ll talk about Don’t Just Sit There: You’re clarion call to the cubicle workers of the world.


KATY: Oh. I’m so excited. Yes. Well, this will be fun to go into Don’t Just Sit There because everything we just said about the shoe you can say about your desk now. You’re wearing your desk. Where do we go from here?


STEPHANIE:  Oh my gosh. People, you’re wearing your desk. Pick up the book. Dive in and we will discuss when next we meet. For now, though, that is Between the Lines on the Katy Says Podcast. I’m Stephanie Domet. As I said, you can find Katy at Browse through the books, videos, alignment snacks, sign up for the super fun, informative, photo packed newsletter.  I’m Stephanie Domet. Thanks for listening.




VOICE OVER:  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.


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