Episode 43: Katy Says Movement Mailbag
Description: Katy Answers Your Questions
In this episode: Squatting, Transitioning to Furniture-Free, & Inspiring Older Kids to Move Outside
KATY: Hi, this is Katy Bowman, and it is time for the Katy Says Movement Mailbag. It’s a quick listen where I answer questions you’ve submitted. Join me and my co-host, D-D-D-D-Dani H-H-Hemmat as we talk while you walk. So grab your headphones, head out the door, and this should be good for a mile, don’t you think?
DANI: I think so.
KATY: All right, let’s do it.
DANI: Okay. This is me, Dani, and I’m going to dig my hand into the mail bag and…here we go! This one is from Jessie.
JESSIE: Hi, Katy and Dani. My name is Jessie and I’ve listened to almost all of your podcasts together, and I’m working on listening to more of Katy’s books, and I listen to you guys on my evening walk. And so I’ve just been really inspired by all the topics you guys discuss, and I’m considering putting our kitchen table in the garage and bringing out our coffee table to sit at and just try out sitting on the ground for our meals for a month is what I’m thinking about proposing to my husband. So I just wanted to know a little bit more on why, Katy, why you live in a furniture free house. Why do you sit on the floor and eat your meals there? Is it because – I know sitting isn’t bad, but it’s the amount of sitting that we do – so are you trying to break up sitting in the chair with sitting in different ways so that your body isn’t casted by sitting in only one way? If there’s a blog post on this, I’d love to read it – I just haven’t been able to come across it, so I’d love for you guys to discuss that if you are able to. So anyways, thanks for all that both of you do, and I will keep listening. Thanks again!
KATY: I feel like Jessie already knows the answer. I feel like Jessie is a very good student and she kinda gets it.
DANI: She might just need some points to present to the husband, perhaps? I don’t know.
KATY: Well, I mean – I – I am unfortunately unable to intervene in people’s marriages, but here’s why I do it: we have a, you know, “furniture free” house, and there are blog posts on it. I think that Furniture Free Freak might be the name of the latest one. But the benefits for us of furniture free are in the moment of 1) we aren’t adding – like, if you think of like, position, there’s no bed positions, just the frequency of a particular position can get out of hand. So in my life, in the modern world, there is a high frequency of, like, a sit-in-a-chair, a traditional chair position. So I don’t feel the need to add to it in my home. So I try to make my home a place where you can get almost zero of that type of sitting. So sitting is just a category; I prefer to think of positioning in terms of geometry, like, the orientation of all of your bones relative to each other and how your bones and joints are configured. So sitting on the floor – 1) it allows our non-active parts of the day – because you do have to sit – sitting on the floor creates a much more natural set of loads than sitting on a chair. So we do it just because we still like to sit, we still have to eat our food, but I don’t feel the need to add any more chair time into our families’ life. That goes for the table in the kitchen, it goes for the couch and chairs in the living room. Then there’s also the benefit of – so whatever position you are assuming while you are on the floor, if you look at it, it looks very similar to what people do for exercise, right? So if you can think of, like, 6 different ways that you can sit on the floor, chances are those are 6, like, yoga poses or stretching class poses. Sit with your legs out in a V, sit with your legs out forward, sit with your legs crossed. Those are exercises as if you pay for and go to class – why aren’t they exercises if you’re doing it while you eat your dinner? It’s – for us, it’s a very natural, inexpensive, stack-your-life kind of mentality of fitting movement into your life. The other benefit is not just the position, but getting down and up, right?
KATY: So in addition to positions being of different value, movement is really, you know, key to life. And so you don’t really use your ankles and your knees and your hips to their full extent when your resting point stops 12” from where your butt – if you think of where my butt is and then where my butt goes to a chair, that’s a certain trajectory that I follow. But if I were to go all the way to the floor, that would require more joint articulation, more muscular use, and it would also be different joint articulation and different muscle use, full stop.
DANI: Mic drop, walk away. Awesome. Who’s Mike? Hashtag. Stack your life.
DANI: Stack your life! Okay, the next one: question two is from Amy. I will read Amy’s question. “Hi, Katy and Dani. I love your podcast, and I’ve been incorporating a lot more squats into my day: playing with my toddler, getting things out of low cabinets, and sometimes working on my computer. My question is, what is the best squat posture to use if I can’t yet get my heels on the floor with my feet straight, and just slightly wider than my hips, without tipping over backward? I can squat with that foot position on the balls of my feet with my weight toward the inside to avoid food schmear, or I can move my feet wider, pointing out.” Must mean pointing her toes out. “And keep my heels on the ground. I can hold the latter posture longer, but I assume it’s better to do the former for better alignment and ankle strengthening. Is more calf stretches the key to getting my feet on the ground? Thanks, Amy.”
KATY: Okay, so a few questions there. One blanket statement is, there’s not one squat that’s really more nutritious than the other. The reason I give squat guidelines – so there’s squat: the behavior. She’s done really well in incorporating squats into her life; I think a lot of listeners are going - I gotta go furniture free also – is one way to use your squatting parts more often. Squats in nature, squats done in the context of life are a category and vary widely, because you’re reaching for stuff, right? You’re moving in your squat. Your squat is not one thing. When you are doing a squat as a corrective exercise – so the squats that I lay out in Move Your DNA – so, like, there’s the squatting chapter in Move Your DNA – the reason there are parameters for those squats is that is a training squat. That is a squat where you are creating a set of loads to try to create a new shape out of your body. In the beginning of this section in the reason there are parameters for those squats is that is a training squat. That is a squat where you are creating a set of loads to try to create a new shape out of your body. In the beginning of this section in Move Your DNA, I ask people to squat however you can: get down however you can, and I think a lot of people find that they can get down by turning their toes way out or opening their knees, or leaning forward or holding onto something. So that gives you information about yourself. The position that you can squat in if you watched how your parts were moving – and so this is really integral, I think, to the 52 Weeks course, is – are you in 52 Weeks?
KATY: Yeah, okay. So it was this last lesson that I did, so almost at the end of the year, where we’re like, the reason my idea of corrective exercise is not to do modified exercise for the sake of doing exercise. I create corrective exercises with the explicit intention to create loads that change the shape of your body. So they’re not really – they’re not easily attainable without a ton of bolstering, and yes, you let pieces of it go, but to get back on track – to answer her question, it would be 1) keep using the squats in the way that you’re doing. There’s no right or wrong way. But when you set aside practice time for squatting, you want to not really forsake any of those alignment – in the beginning – let’s say that you’re going, I’m going to squat for like the next 5 minutes or 10 minutes, whatever you decide for this training exercise. You are going to squat without letting any of the parameters go, and then you’ll find very quickly that the amount that you can squat is very small. That’s true for almost everybody. It’s like, okay –
DANI: You mean just like a resting, hanging-out kind of -
KATY: You just – you’re going to start, you know, with your feet in a certain position, your toes in a certain position, and you’re going to move in a particular way. And when you get down in your squat, you’re going to be like, okay, well, I’m going to fall backwards if I continue to do it this way. So then we start adding things, right? Like, well, if I widen my knees a little bit more, that would be easier. Or if I turned my feet a little bit more that would be easier. Before you make it easier, I want you to see how it is for you. Because that is – that’s information for you about how you can move and how you can’t. And so when you turn your foot out, what you’re doing to accomplish a squat is saying, well, I don’t have the range of motion right now in my lower leg to do it, so I will remove the participation of my lower leg from this squatting bout. What you’re also saying – but what you don’t realize, is – and therefore, I will strengthen this current shape of my body. And when you’re living, you’re going to have to do that because you’re going to be paralyzed if you don’t have the range of motions to currently move in, you can’t move.
DANI: Yeah, you’d just be walking around like a robot.
KATY: That’s the defining characteristic of your range of motion, right? So I think 1) you have to recognize what it is and 2) that you would do smaller squats within the ranges of motion that you do have. So like, on the new pelvic floor DVD, I added the chair squat. Or if you are following our social media, you can find the Maui squat YouTube – and so that is a way of going, well, is your range of motion with straight feet, feet pelvis width apart, you know, moving from the backside of your body as opposed to the front, which you would use the shin as a marker. Are you able to get down to just a chair height? And if the answer is no, then that’s how you practice the squat during your squat exercise session. Then, the next part that she’s asking is like, well, then, what are the mobilizing exercises that would help me? Calf Stretch – I mean, it’s everything that is in Move Your DNA in the squat section. Calf Stretch – capital C, capital S – Soleus Stretch, which are also in that squat prep section. There is no – there is no – like, the Calf Stretch in the classic, “foot up on the half dome, stepping forward with your other foot” – that’s more of a gait – the way you would use your calves in flat, over ground gait. When you go to squat, it’s actually your soleus, which is your deeper calf muscle that is going to hinder the amount of dorsiflexion for a squat. So it would be the other calf stretch, a Soleus Stretch, which you can find in Whole Body Barefoot. It’s everything, right? It’s the minimal footwear and the amount of time you’re spending in that, hips breaking up your freeing – don’t break up – free your thighs from your hip. So I don’t think there’s any one, it’s all of the micronutrients are being used throughout the day to support a greater range of motion, even of your upper spine. Like, you wouldn’t think of your tension in your shoulders as something limiting, or the strength of your back limiting your squat, but the squat is a whole body activity. Any part of you that’s not on board with holding its own weight is going to have to be compensated, and that’s often why we kind of do these sly changes in geometry. So that was really – like, people have already walked 2 miles now. I apologize for the drone of my voice. Thanks, that was a great question, Amy, thanks.
DANI: It was good. I guess it’s always good to start with knowing your boundaries.
DANI: And we’ll link to the YouTube video and the DVD link in the show notes on this one.
KATY: You’re so good.
DANI: All right. Final question: today, let’s reach on it, it’s from Fannie! Oh, what a great name. Fannie.
KATY: I think Fannie is the best name in the world.
DANI: So cute! All right, Fannie. This is from Fannie: “Just listened to your latest podcast, #37.” That was the winter – moving through the winter podcast. “Just listened to your latest podcast, 37, while walking in the woods with a fresh December wind blowing.” Oh, my gosh, she’s like an A student. “Found out also about – “
KATY: She was an A student when she showed up with her name Fannie. I was like, you win, Fannie! You already win.
DANI: Didn’t even have to talk. Okay. “Found out also about the Norwegian term [oh goodness, Dani, what are you doing to me? –Kathy]” Oh, gosh. I hope I didn’t –
KATY: Oh, come on. You live for that stuff. Did you cull – I think you pretty much culled submissions so that you can speak in foreign terms. I love it.
DANI: You know me so well. “Friluftsliv, or the direct experience in the natural world.” There you go, everybody.
KATY: Oh, I love that!
DANI: Now you have ‘hygge’ and ‘friluftsliv.’ Okay.
KATY: Can you spell that?
DANI: Okay. It’s F-R-I-L-U-F-T-S-L-I-V. So if I am mangling that, please write me and give me the phonetic pronunciation.
KATY: And if our audio sound engineer is amazing, which she is, maybe she could even find someone saying that online and then insert it right now so people could hear all the ways, all the versions.
DANI: That would be great.
[Voiceover: The Swedish Chef.]
DANI: Or he can tell you how to cook the little fishies into meatballs.
[several recorded voices saying “friluftsliv”]
DANI: Okay. So here is her actual question, now that we’ve just dilly-dallied around here. “I was wondering if you had more tips to motivate older kids to go outside and move. I’m getting broke by tipping them to stack firewood.” All right – I need to know this, too, because I don’t have the little wee ones that I can say, ‘hey, let’s do this fun game of stacking the wood!’ Or do we need to wait until your kids get older?
KATY: Right? All right, so my perspective of this is always from the smaller kids. So, you know, there’s – they’re going to become their own people with their own preferences. I’m not a super big fan of, like, “my house, my rules,” type of parenting, having come from that. So one is, I have absolutely no experience. But it was really interesting – you know, I did a MovNat retreat with Erwan and there was a guy there who was asking that same question, and he was – and this is not going to be a solution. I just thought it was interesting and a leaping off point of thought for me. He was like, I can’t get my kids to – I’m totally interested in exercise and natural movement, and I’m in and I love it and I go out and I do it, but I can’t get my kids to want to do it – and Erwan’s question, right? All great teachers don’t really have answers, they have questions so that you can begin to think through things in a different way yourself – was how much time you spend with your kids- not to say that this is an issue – because I get this question from a lot of people, and he was like, well, you know – he goes to work – the amount of time that he’s actually modeling and spending time with his kids was really small compared – you know, compared to all the time possible. And I think this is also another symptom of the non-tribal way that we live, where the models for the children become really limited to maybe 2 parents. There’s not a lot of other adults, like, let me jump off to a different place: we have family friends, and their parents are not really movers. They’re trying to do it, but they’re not – they haven’t modeled movement for their kids the entire time, and so when they start doing movement, it’s usually with the enthusiasm of someone who has just found it, which I know from experience, because there’s a lot of Katy Says listeners out there, can be really irritating to a family. I get a lot of irritated – like, they’re not irritated emails, they’re like, my spouse says if you say, Katy Says one more time, I’m going to leave. So what happens is, when your enthusiasm is bubbling over, maybe it comes across as like, it’s so different than where you came from, it’s like, kids need time to adjust. So ideas are just – move more, as a family, it doesn’t always have to be chores. One thing that we have done in our family is we have just started – I mean, when we take a vacation, we wouldn’t even consider now taking a vacation in a place that would not allow us a movement-based day. That wasn’t an issue - before, we were trying to figure out how to get kids – and our kids aren’t super excited to move. They have that resistance of, like, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna. But –
DANI: Well, isn’t that just kind of the natural, anyone wants to conserve anything?
KATY: Exactly! It’s a natural state, it’s like work, and so when we were like, hey, guys, it’s time to go for a walk! It’s like, thumbs down, because I’m doing this other thing which is amazing or cool. But you know, our kids don’t watch a lot of TV. We don’t have a TV, but you know, they go over to their cousin’s house or wherever, and they get more than what’s usual, it’s like a detox period. There is – for our kids at least – you know, a 5-10 minute screaming detox fit, and it’s like, wow, you only watched, like 90 minutes TV in an entire week, but giving it to you, it was like, they’re having this full emotional response to having been cut off.
DANI: I kind of did that when the Kimmy Schmidt season was over, but.
KATY: I don’t even know what that is. Is that another Swedish –
DANI: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? It’s a Netflix series. It’s like the best. But anyway.
DANI: I cried, I screamed.
KATY: Yes, you are being cut off of something. Well, I think of stillness as being something that you are being cut off of, so even though to us it’s like, why don’t you want to start moving? To them, it’s like, that I’m being – I’m on this path of stillness, so the resistance a lot of times, for us as parents, is like, ugh. We know we want to do it, but do we want to pay the price of all the work it’s going to take over the next 20 to 120 mintues of, like, whining and resistance? And the answer for us always became, “Yes.” Because we had found that the continuing stillness brought with it the exact same amount of whining and resistance in general, right?
DANI: This is totally true.
KATY: You just have to see that your going to spend exactly the same amount of energy parenting, so doing it outside on the move is just way – we have found a way better place to deal with the whining and resistance, because people are getting what they need. And it turns out that the whining and resistance is just a part of life, the end.
DANI: I have older kids, and they love nature school but every day when they get hauled to nature school, they complain about going. And when I pick them up, they’re like, that was the best day ever! And then the next week: “I don’t wanna go!” And I pick them up: “The best day ever!” It’s just – it is what it is. It’s just kind of – I mean, I have to motivate myself to get out and move.
DANI: And for my older kids, they only will go out and move, aside from nature school, if I’m with them. But that’s kind of a win-win because I’m with them.
KATY: Right. And I think that’s what you wanted, right? Movement and family time, which doesn’t mean that you can’t get movement on your own time. And I think it helps for adults to identify where they themselves are acting similar to their children with respect to doing something that they know is good for them, but they don’t want to do. So I have just found that relaxation to come with the awareness of knowing that no one likes change. We don’t like change, we don’t like to have to do more work than we anticipated, or we are currently doing. And that is probably a prime thing keeping you from the life that you’d like to be having right now.
DANI: Mm-hmm. That is true.
KATY: The end. I hope you’ve walked at least a mile, everyone.
DANI: Mile and a half, maybe. Woo hoo! All right, well, that is all for today. Thanks for listening to the Katy Says Movement Mailbag, and everybody: thanks for your questions. We’ll get to them as much as we can. If you’re not getting your question answered quickly enough, you know, keep asking and reading. Go to NutritiousMovement.com, because that is just a potpourri, a smorgasbord.
KATY: A smorgasbord!
DANI: A smorgasbord of resources. Don’t know where to start? Click on the button that says, “I don’t know where to start!” You can look up, you know, questions by the keywords and get to whatever podcasts and blog posts and books that you need. So keep going there, but we’ll try to get to your questions as soon as we can. Thanks for listening!
KATY: Is there actually a button that says, “Don’t know where to start?”
DANI: Isn’t there something that says, “Overwhelmed?” Or –
KATY: Maybe. I was just making sure it was literal before people started searching for the little button that says that. I do not think that there’s a button –
DANI: Well, go to the left hand side of the webpage and there should be something there that will get you started. Maybe it says Getting Started. It’s probably that. That’s a little better.
KATY: We don’t know anything, and we don’t, frankly, have the energy to go check. We’re just going to keep not knowing. All right, thanks everyone for great questions! Keep them coming!
DANI: Bye bye!
We hope you find the general information on biomechanics, movement, and alignment informative and helpful. But it is not intended to replace medial advice and shouldn’t be used as such.
Maui Squat You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of1h2v4pKhc
NM Pelvic Floor DVD/Download: https://www.nutritiousmovement.com/product/nutritious-movement-for-a-healthy-pelvis-dvd/