DANI: Hey, there! It’s Dani again and I’m talking with Katy. How’s it going?
KATY: Good. It’s always good. What would you do if I said terrible?
DANI: Well, you know, I’d probably try to empathize a little bit. But what’s going on, man? I’m glad you’re always good. You have a good attitude.
DANI: Yeah, life is beautiful, truly.
KATY: It is.
DANI: I like living it.
KATY: All right, then, that’s a good podcast. There we go. We’ve solved all the problems, the end.
DANI: The end.
KATY: Yep. Yep.
DANI: Have a nice day, everybody. Make sure to stretch your eyes and stretch your calves. Well, so a lot of us have to deal with cars.
KATY: I know, ew.
DANI: And there’s a lot of studies that focus on what vehicle pollution does to us: our lungs, our skin, our respiratory systems. But there’s – what about the things our bodies do or go through to accommodate vehicle use? Although some of us don’t ever really have to be in a car except for a road trip or taxi ride if they live in a place like NYC where they don’t live with a car, we just – we have to use them sometimes. And their seats suck, and we have to sit still for way too long. That’s the part that drives me crazy. I just get the jimmy-legs and want to start shaking my legs.
KATY: Wow, this is like, Debbie Downer.
DANI: And for some people, they have to sit in cars hours a day. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a huge commute, but it’s really hard on your body. So what can we do? What kinds of things do our bodies go through by being in a car, and what do you think about what we can do to kind of help counteract that, aside from the obvious which is to be in them as little as possible?
KATY: Right. So that’s always my first answer. It’s like, what’s the best way to be in a car? It’s like, as little as possible! Next question. But I’ve written a couple blog posts about it – can you link to those in the?
DANI: Yes, I can.
KATY: One of them is called, I think, “Car Alignment Part 1.” I don’t think I ever wrote “Car Alignment Part 2” because that’s how I roll. Get it? That’s how I roll? But I did write another one called “Un-pimp Your Ride” so those are two sources, but – yeah, I think that we could cover some things that you could do to make that inevitable car trip a little bit better on your body. You want to do that?
DANI: Well, just drive us forward.
KATY: Oh! Let the puns – let the puns –
DANI: There’s a lot, I’m sure.
KATY: I know, it’s going to be great. We’re not going to tire of those, are we?
DANI: Oh! I was going to use that one later, too. Dangit. I can scratch that off the list. Think of some more. All right, well, let’s talk cars.
KATY: So first, I think – this
something they might not have known before. As you look at your gas gauge, there is a triangle next to the picture of a gas tank which tells you which side your gas tank is on. Did you know that?
DANI: I did know that.
KATY: Shut up!
DANI: I did. I did, which is really helpful if you have a rental car and you don’t know what the heck’s going on.
KATY: I did not know that until, like, this year! And to me, that is the most important thing that everyone should know about their car.
DANI: It is a good one.
KATY: Well, I guess I travel a lot and I am constantly in rental cars, and so I just wanted to – that’s all I wanted to share today. Just kidding. Okay. In Move Your DNA, I talk about how it’s not always about sitting less, it’s about sitting differently. So if you feel trapped in your car life, right now, that you feel like you can’t reduce it at all or do anything with it, you can always do it differently, so that you’re not begetting the same shape of your body over and over again. So that’s what those posts are about. So a couple things: do you think anyone’s listening to this while they’re driving?
DANI: I’m sure some people have to be.
KATY: Right. So if you’re listening to this while you’re driving, pay attention to the road. We should put a disclaimer: do not try these things while you’re driving if it takes your attention away from driving. But what a lot of people tend to do when they drive is their right leg is reaching out, pushing on the gas pedal, right?
KATY: Their left leg is not pushing on anything, and is usually flexed at the knee and the hip. I’m doing this with my hands right now. So your right arm – well, my right arm right now because I’m doing this in the air, which is your leg – it’s all the way reaching, your toes are pointed probably as well, while at the same time you’re doing the opposite with your other leg. And that doesn’t just load the legs in a particular way; you’re loading your pelvis. You’re loading the right and left halves of your pelvis differently. You’re creating this torque where one half of your pelvis is rotating forward and the other half of your pelvis is rotating backwards. Are you with me on that one?
KATY: So stop pulling your left leg back. Even though your left leg doesn’t have to do anything, there is a little pedal that most cars have on the left side of the pedals that is just a foot rest that you can keep your left foot on. It’s really hard to do, because you’ll reach your left foot out there and then over time all of a sudden you’ll notice, oh, my left leg came back to this flexed and bent up position. So that’s something that you can work on is at least extending and pressing through both legs.
DANI: You’ve kind of got me thinking. Do you think that’s why a lot of people have kind of a twisted pelvis, like a torsion?
KATY: Yeah, I mean, it’s certainly not helpful, and since most adults drive and have been driving since their teenage years, which are still your bone-setting years, then, yeah. I think it’s something that we spend quite a bit of time doing – quite a bit more time doing than any sort of corrective exercise to undo it.
DANI: Tru dat. Okay, so we’ve got our foot rest pedal, which is just – you have to train yourself to use it. I mean, even if you have a clutch, a manual car, where you need to use your left leg more, you just could train yourself to use it. I did after you posted on that. I just started making myself use that left leg rest, and like you said, it’s not natural at first, but it’s very nice.
KATY: Okay, so the second thing, though, too, so in addition – and I haven’t been able to figure out how not to do this – when I push the gas pedal down, the way my leg reaches the gas pedal – so a lot of times, I don’t know if there’s solutions to a lot of these things, there’s just a lot of questions that I get and probably you get, too, are “what’s making this?” and you think about it in terms of when you’re moving, it’s like, okay, I’m going to make my workout more symmetrical and the way that I’m walking more symmetrical, but then there’s these huge heaps of time we spend doing this thing that is loading the body. And one of the things that I do when I push the gas pedal with my right foot, I clench my toes. And I can’t stop because the way that my foot – the way that my leg is already reaching, the way I can get my foot to the gas pedal is by plantar flexing or pointing my toe, but I still don’t have enough – I don’t have the lever length. My toes have to become part of this lever, so I scrunch my toes, too, at the same time. And to keep my toes relaxed is to fatigue another muscle, so I play with the distance of my seat a little bit to see if I can get that toe clenching to relax. So if you’re dealing with, like toe contractures or hammertoes, you know, that toe scrunching in addition to keeping your shoes on your foot if you’re wearing flip flops or like a slide-on shoe are you gripping the gas pedal? So I really pay attention to movement with a lot of different things that I do, and driving is something that I don’t have to do very much of anymore luckily. But for those of you out there who still are, you can pay attention to your toes so that the tips, knees, and toes and then the worst thing about the car, for me, is that every single car seems to be a bucket seat now.
KATY: What are your –
DANI: That’s what they are, too. And they’re pretty adjustable. My husband makes fun of me, because he calls me Mister Bean because I sit so, so far up because I’m trying to untwist my pelvis and I’m trying to get my pelvis in the right position, and I sit so straight in the car that I do look like Mister Bean. But then there’s that pesky headrest that no one can seem to design that properly. But yeah, I got bucket seats, so.
KATY: It’s interesting. You can’t even get a car that doesn’t have bucket seats anymore. Our culture has shaped our bodies, which is now shaping the furniture, which is shaping the next generation of culture, right? Like, your kids are just – they just, they’re not standing a chance, they’re just bucketed out. There’s just buckets everywhere. De-bucketing the seat of your car, and what I do is I take a towel and I fill in the back of my car – the back of my car seat so that the part that you sit on, the bench part, is as horizontal as possible. So a lot of people will say, well, that’s what I use a lumbar pillow for; I’ll put the lumbar pillow – they’ll put it on the vertical part –
DANI: The backrest.
KATY: of the seat. Thank you. The non-vertical part. The backrest. They’ll put it on the backrest trying to prop their lumbar spine up. The only difference in doing that is that the loads are different. I wrote about this – I believe I put it in the Don’t Just Sit There e-book about office, because car drives & commutes are part of office life for a lot of people. So I was talking about: we have this notion of this spinal alignment we want to maintain, and so a lot of people will force themselves into a neutral pelvis, meaning that they’ve tipped their pelvis forward, but they’re essentially doing it uphill because they’re in a bucket. So while the position might be “neutral” the loads are not, meaning that you’re actively having to fire the extensors in your spine to get that to happen, and that’s not what alignment is. Alignment is that both the position and the forces and the loads are “neutral,” or what they’re supposed to be. So you don’t want to have a lumbar pillow shoving you uphill where the tendency is still passively rolling back down. You just want to get rid of the force that’s rolling you backwards. So for me, well – I don’t know if it’s for me – like, just fill in the seat. Take your lumbar pillow and put it on the seat and sit on it to kind of promote a roll forward, if you will.
DANI: Okay, and will you describe again what you’re doing with the towel on your backrest? Is it the length of the backrest? Or –
KATY: It’s not on the backrest; the towel is on the seat.
KATY: The towel is on the seat, and all I’m doing is filling the hole. So if it’s a bucket, you can get it to stop being a bucket by filling up the void of the bucket. So I just – and there’s a picture of this on “Un-pimp Your Ride,” I just fill the downhill slope with a towel so that there’s no more downhill slope. My butt’s half on the towel, half on the seat –
DANI: Got it.
KATY: -- There’s no more downhill roll for me anymore.
DANI: That’s awesome.
KATY: It’s cheap. It’s cheap, it’s fast, and it’s a great way if you’re logging a lot of miles to instantly change the loads to your low back and your pelvis and your tailbone, and really your abdomen, too. Really, all of it is affected by this bucket seat. So, you know, you fill in your bucket and you look at your feet and you go, okay, I’m going to – I keep wanting to say the word “retract,” and that’s – you want to stop retracting your left leg and pulling it towards you and reach it all the way back out. Another habit I have – and I don’t know why – or where it started, and it might not have started in the car, it might have started elsewhere – but I tend to slide my rib cage towards the left when I drive. So there’s a middle rest; it might have been back when I was cool and hip and 16 and a badass, where you’ve got left hand on the steering wheel and right arm on the rest.
KATY: In the middle. But it’s not just your arms that are doing this position. Your whole rib cage is sliding, so to not is to take out that right to left slide. Or if you rest your arm – my grandpa used to drive around – he was a cowboy – with his arm in the window – and he would drive with his right hand, and so he had a rib slide to the left. So just notice if you habitually assume some position that then promotes a tension, which then promotes a bone shape, or displacement, just based on the loads that you assume on a regular basis while you’re driving in the car. So watch your right to left shift, and then also your rib thrust. If you’re rib dropping, then you can use the back of the seat to drop your ribs back towards – depending on how vertical your seat is – so I will roll my seat all the way up to make it as vertical as possible. If I didn’t fill my bucket, that might be very uncomfortable because then I would be in a hyper flexed position, but because I filled my bucket, basically I’m trying to make my seat look like an “L,” like the letter L, and then I sit in it.
DANI: So you might kind of look like Mister Bean, too.
KATY: I probably do. Didn’t Mister Bean drive like a Mini?
DANI: He did, but he just – he was very straight and he was right up there. He wasn’t slouching in his seat.
KATY: Well, he’s Mister Bean. He’s just very proper and very (clears throat) and doing his little thing. So yeah, I’m definitely perched. I’m definitely working while I’m seated. I don’t look like – I don’t look like I’m yielding to the chair where the chair is supporting me. I’m definitely doing work while I’m getting from Point A to Point B in a car, which is, again, not very often.
DANI: So there’s no low rider theme song while you’re driving?
KATY: There could be. There could be a low rider theme song playing, but I am not – I am not emanating the low rider. Is that right?
DANI: (laughing, hums “Low Rider.”)
KATY: What about hydraulics?
DANI: Do you bounce?
KATY: I did – well, I came from a town where everyone bounced.
KATY: So yeah, yeah.
DANI: So, neck. That’s a big one. I actually have a sticker – or I used to have a sticker until this started to become a habit, but it was the idea of one of your amazing teachers at the Restorative Exercise® Institute – Tim – and he says, BOTNL, which stands for “back of the neck long,” and I was totally, you know, just a forward head person. And so I just put BOTNL on a little sticker like a “My Name Is…” label, and I put it in my car and every time I looked at that I was like, “oh, yeah, yeah, yeah!” and I would ramp my head back. But that neck – I think a lot of people really thrust their head forward when they’re driving. It’s a toughie.
KATY: Yeah. It’s almost as tough as deciphering all of Tim’s acronyms. He is sometimes able to speak in acronyms and I’m like, “I don’t know what you’re saying!”
DANI: Just keep it short and sweet. BOTNL, baby. BOTNL.
KATY: He is. BOTNL. So yeah, ramping your head up, definitely, on the computer screen don’t let your face drip towards your computer screen and you shouldn’t let your face drip towards the steering wheel, either. Just slide your chin back, make sure that your ribs aren’t coming up with you, and then, you know, it’s like 10 and 2 is the safest position for driving, but I, for myself, will kind of play with different hand holds a little bit just to load my shoulders and my hands differently.
DANI: Oh! I hear people.
KATY: You hear people? Who’s this? Did you want to make a surprise appearance on my podcast? Come on up! She’s got to take off her boots first.
DANI: Oh, man, she’s not driving already, is she?
KATY: She’s actually – you know, here’s the thing. I just watched her on her father’s lap drive into the driveway. So she absolutely is driving today, she just drove here right now.
DANI: Quelle coincidence.
KATY: What was that? Was that an acronym?
DANI: No, no, no no – that was French.
KATY: Ohhh, well, see, Tim also speaks French so it’s hard for me to tell the difference.
DANI: I said, what a coincidence that she drove here and you’re doing a driving podcast.
KATY: Did you say it in English?
KATY: How do you say it again?
DANI: Quelle coincidence.
KATY: Quelle coincidence.
DANI: Si. Very good.
KATY: Les mon Cherie…
KATY: Oh! She just gave me the sign that it is time for her nap.
DANI: Mmm, can she wait 5 more minutes?
KATY: She probably can. Come here? (Katy’s daughter, R, in background: Mom, who are you talking to?) Who am I talking to? Do you speak French, do you know any French? Do you want to sing a song? No. Did you drive here? (R: Mm-hmm.) What kind of driving did you do? (R: I ate the berries.) You ate the berries? (R: Yeah.) You ate my berry? (R: Yeah.) How dare you. Do you want to tell – no, don’t twist that knob. Do you want to tell Dani anything? (R: No.)
DANI: Did you eat the berries?
KATY: Did you eat the berries? (R: Yeah.) Here, put these headphones on.
DANI: Did you drive here? Did you drive a car?
KATY: (R: Yeah.)
DANI: Was it fun?
KATY: (R: Yeah.)
DANI: Good for you. Way to go, girl.
KATY: Who helped you drive? (R: Da-da.) Dada helped you? Did you go fast or slow? (R: Fast.) Did you get pulled over by a policeman? (R: No, I didn’t.) That’s good.
DANI: I believe she’s a straight arrow, too, just like her mom. All right, she’s a fast driving straight arrow who didn’t get pulled over by the cops.
KATY: Are you ready to go to bed? (R: Mm-hmm) Okay. Can you say goodbye? (R: Bye!)
DANI: Good bye! Nice talking to you.
KATY: Unfortunately, I’m going to have to hop off.
DANI: That is okay. I think this is a good enough show. Lots of tips, very helpful. I’ll include the blog links, and you go tuck that kid in.
KATY: I will. Thank you so much.
DANI: Take one yourself.
KATY: Yeah. I will.
DANI: All right.
KATY: All right, thanks, Dani.
DANI: Have a good day, bye.
DANI: Okay, so we were hijacked – or shall I say, carjacked by an adorable sounding, speed-driving 2 year old on Katy’s end, and some antsy kids letting a scrabbling Chihuahua into my office on my end, so it was a good time to end the show. I will put the link to “Un-Pimp My Ride” in the show notes, and remember: when you’re out there on the road, pay attention to what you’re doing. We want you to get there safe! Have a great day.