Episode 49: Special Edition Katy Says Movement Mailbag!
In this episode: Shoe wear, knee pain, Cheerios, muscle cars and cultural clarification.
KATY: Hello, this is Katy Bowman, and welcome to a very special edition of the Mail Bag. Just so you know, I’m currently on the road, so pardon the audio. I am in a closet with – and I don’t have any of my equipment, my podcast equipment – but I did just scrounge up some airline headphones from my kids from a few years ago, so talk about repurpose.
DANI: Podcast hack!
KATY: Podcast hack! Seriously, it’s a glamorous life that we live. So anyway, today – Movement Mail Bag, we’re going to answer your questions, it’s a quickie. You’re going to join me and Dani, who is fully set up with professional equipment.
DANI: Not on the road.
KATY: But potentially in a blizzard.
DANI: In a blizzard.
KATY: So you might lose us in the middle of the podcast, which might even be the best thing. So grab your clunky airline headphones, head out the door, quick walk – you ready?
DANI: We’re ready. All right. Well, I am the keeper of the Mail Bag, and the first question is from Christy, who writes, “Dear Dani and Katy, I just found you a few months ago and started reading and listening to everything I can in my spare time. The more I learn, the more I realize what a hot mess I am. Anyway, I have the Healthy Pelvis DVD, Daily Movement Multivitamin, and Fix Your Knees and Hips DVDs.” Wow, good for her! Look at her go! “I love them. However, in these DVDs, Katy sits back often on her heels. Ouch! I can’t even get there. I can kneel just fine, but my quads and knees seem so tight that I can’t sit back on my heels. This is so frustrating – is there something I could be doing to help me get there? Thank you. I really appreciate what the both of you do; I think you are amazing.” I think she meant that last one for me – you are amazing.
KATY: I’m pretty sure. Dear Dani, you rock.
DANI: Thanks, Christy!
KATY: I love hot mess. I think hot mess is my favorite. What it does is it just reframes chaos into sexy, and I like it. I’m a hot mess, too, right now in the closet with my kid’s – like, you have come to the right place, dear hot mess. So yes, there’s absolutely something you can do, and also, it’s worth noting that I could not always sit back on my heels. It was actually through a movement therapy, like a massage session, where someone put me back there and my quads were so tight – and I used to be a long-distance runner and my quads were so strong and what I was doing actually prevented me – they were so strong and adapted to what I’d do that I couldn’t sit with my hips all the way down on my heels. And it was in that session that I felt the tension. Because I had chairs at that point – I had chairs – and 1) what you can do is sit like that more frequently. That’s going to be more helpful. But the way to do it in a way that’s comfortable would be to bolster yourself. You say you can kneel, so I’m assuming that you can kind of line up your pelvis and your legs so that they’re directly on top of each other, and that the problem is that as you start sitting back that the quads start resisting that. So you’ll sit back as much as you can – whether it’s 10 degrees or, I always talk about inches, whether you can drop your hips back 1 or 3 inches. And then put something underneath your butt that’s holding the weight of your butt away from the floor. When you’re all the way down, the weight of your torso and your butt are essentially resting on your feet, but you’d need quite a bit of quad mobility to get there, so you just go as deep as you can go comfortably – or slightly uncomfortably, maybe just beyond that edge – and then stack pillows or sit on a bunch of yoga blocks. Anything that will allow you to sit at a particular angle, taking the tension off of the quads, because that’s what’s resisting as you go back: the muscle fibers, the sarcomeres within the muscle fibers are pulling way, way away from each other and there’s only so much range of motion you can have at any particular moment without adapting to add more sarcomeres to make that muscle longer. So bolster. Bolster and then keep checking back in to see if you can reduce the height of your bolster, and also, sitting that way more frequently, bolstered, will transition you to have the muscle parts able to execute that motion.
DANI: A sound answer.
KATY: Love, another hot mess.
DANI: That’s a good, sound answer. Okey-dokey. Next one is from Lori, who writes, “My question is about shoes in the city and at work.” It sounds like a TV show, doesn’t it? Shoes and the City.
KATY: I was thinking the Eagles song. The Eagles song: In the city!
DANI: All right. “My question is about shoes in the city and at work. I don’t wear shoes when possible, but would like to know what you recommend for people who are on their feet for work. I am a nurse. I also live and work in New York City, and I’m wondering if walking in minimalist shoes on all the concrete is okay. Speaking of shoes, all mine are worn out on the outer edge of the heel – the lateral side. Is there an easy fix for that, or is it just part of my gait?” Wow, that’s a lot of questions. “Thank you so much for all you do.”
KATY: Yeah, she snuck three questions into a single question. Lori.
DANI: What a proper nurse Lori is.
KATY: Nurses are smart, like, I’m going to say it. They know how to multi-task.
DANI: Mm-hmm. Totally.
KATY: What I recommend for people who are on their feet for work is a shoe with no positive heel, so it’s level. However, I do find that most people – and being on your feet is a little bit different. Standing in one place on your feet is different than walking around quite a bit, and so I find that people who do either will put themselves in the same category. So standing long periods of time, for example, the occupation that’s popping into my head is someone who is a greeter at Costco, because that’s someone who asked me the same question years ago. He was like, I stand all day long in one place. So that’s on your feet, as-is, being a mailman. A mailman or mail person, I guess I should say. So if you’re standing quite a bit and you’re finding yourself still, zero rise – but you can still have cushion. So that would be the difference as you’re evaluating footwear, to look for something that is not – like, I’m thinking – I have Unshoes, I love my Unshoes, they are zero rise but they’re very thin. There is no cushioning. I use the super thin, but I would wear those hiking on natural terrain, you know, I’m not going to stand in them all day long. If I was going to stand in one place, I would probably opt for something that is flat but has more cushion, so that would be my recommendation. And it kind of is the same for walking on a bunch of concrete – concrete can be pretty hard, and depending on the strength level of your foot, it can create more forces as you are walking, especially if you are not – if you are switching your shoes but not necessarily working on your gait, then you could just go, hey, I’m going to switch to minimal shoes, but you have a falling gait in which case the cement is going to create quite a bit of impact. If you’re also working on your gait, the great thing about gait kind of improving your gait overall, meaning that you’re reducing the falling – you are carrying your weight much more throughout the gait and it’s not a passive, kind of slap-slap-slap-slap type of gait. Then the exact same person, the same weight, and the same surface of hard concrete would register less. But if all you’re doing is swapping shoes, then again, you can go for something that has a bit of cushion but it doesn’t mean that it has to have a rise. Not only cushion underneath the heel, but it might be a thin layer of cushioning underneath everything that helps absorb some of that impact. And then, see if you can find some natural terrain in which you’re wearing something much more minimal and spend a little bit of barefoot time if you’re there over natural terrain, and that will be something that’s much more well-rounded, I guess. And then her last question – all of her shoes are worn on the outside of the heel, is there an easy fix? So no – that, too, is part of the gait restoration. Your shoes are giving you indications about how you are walking, and so if you are clearly walking on one part of your foot more so than the other, what I would recommend is – oh, gosh, for gait – everything that I’ve put out is essentially affecting gait. If you’re not doing the correctives from Whole Body Barefoot, that’s a place to start. You want to get rid of that schmear, strengthen the lateral hip, back the hips up and mobilize your foot more, and that is going to put you in a direction where you’re going to wear out your shoes more evenly.
DANI: Sounds good.
KATY: Okay, Lori? Any more questions you want to sneak in there?
DANI: I know you’re a busy nurse, Lori, who is so clever sneaking questions in on us, but that is a good book to read. Whole Body Barefoot.
KATY: Also, thank you for being a nurse. Thank you for being a nurse.
DANI: You’re awesome.
KATY: Love nurses.
DANI: All right, so this next question was called in on SpeakPipe from a listener in Australia, and this is from Fannie. [Didgeridoo in background]
Fannie: G’day. I love your work, and have listened to and read every single thing you’ve ever produced. You’re a fair dinkum. I do have a bit of a bone to pick with you, though. You said north is not up. We’re living on a ball, and you hang the map in your kids’ rooms upside down. But here in the land down under, much here is the opposite of how you blokes live in the Northern Hemisphere. When it’s summer where you live, for example, it’s winter for us. You often teach that we should be externally rotating our shoulders – or sometimes internally or externally rotating our thigh bones. I don’t want to mess with the status quo, so I internally rotate whenever you say externally rotate, and I externally rotate whenever you rotate internal rotation. Otherwise, I might as well be living in Canada.
KATY: Eh, of course.
Fannie: So my question is, how come my shoulders and femurs hurt so bloody much? I’m only following directions, but this bull dust is making me look like I’ve got kangaroos loose in the top paddock to me mates.
KATY: Heh. I think I have posted a couple times on social media, and perhaps also talked about here that north isn’t up, up or down – they’re just kind of arbitrary directions based on how you visually look at things on a map, but I just want to be clear that when I say external rotation or internal rotation from the United States, that doesn’t mean do the opposite if you are “Down Under.” So thanks for that, that’s a great question. Helpful. Very helpful to a lot of our listeners on the other side of the globe.
DANI: Yes, and to us, to help us see things from somebody else’s perspective. Always helpful, I like experiences like that.
KATY: It hurts my neck to crank my neck to see whether down there, up there. All right, hit me.
DANI: Okay, this next one was from Jannie.
Jannie: [Big Ben clanging in background] Hello, Katy, my question is very simple. I walk in a straight line on a number of days in the sunniest corners of where I live, so I can eat cherries from the tree without having to spit the pits. In fact, I swallow the cherries whole and I’ve never had any gastro-intestinal issues in my life without even using a Squatty Potty. For the times when I end up looking over my shoulder to back out of the drive in order to not hit children, even though the Vicar’s house is closest to the street where they play and back by the crack in the asphalt where I nicked my ankle on May Day?
KATY: Well, you know, I am not fluent in uh, British English, so I’m not quite certain what the question was, but I am quite certain that the answer is 47.
DANI: You did your best. You did your best.
KATY: That’s all you can do. That’s all you can do.
DANI: That’s all you can do.
KATY: The rest of the time, you’re just a hot mess doing your best.
DANI: That probably would have been my answer, too. It’s a good one. All right, we had one in from email – this is from Lenny, who writes, “Hey, Dani and Katy. I’m a huge fan of the show, and I listen to every episode.” [More Than a Feeling plays in background] I was thinking about your last show in the shower when this question popped into my head. By 1970, how many muscle cars could be had with factory-installed four wheel disc brakes?”
KATY: Oh, that is – that is an excellent question.
DANI: Right, where’s this guy been? This is awesome.
KATY: I am going to have to go off the top of my head here – you know what? I’m traveling, so I don’t even have all of my literature in front of me, but I’m going to say that –
DANI: You’re smart.
KATY: I think it’s the Corvette and the 1969 Z-28. Final answer.
DANI: That’s – yeah.
KATY: I can’t even phone a friend, because I’m sitting in a closet and there’s no friends around me.
DANI: You know what, I’m looking it up right now –
KATY: And frankly, you’d be the person that I’d call – you’d be the person that I call anyway.
DANI: You’re right. And clearly, Lenny has been paying attention to your work closely. Well done.
KATY: Lenny is one of our key followers.
DANI: Okay, this was called in from Lanny, in Stuttgart. Woo, international day today. Here it is:
Lanny: [German music playing] Ich wechselte vor kurzem auf einem Kissen freien Schlaf, aber jetzt habe ich einen wunden Hals die ganze Zeit. Was gibt? (Trans: I recently transitioned to a pillow-free sleep but now I have a sore neck all the time. What gives?)
KATY: Guten Tag, Lanny. Vielleicht haben Sie nicht langsam genug übergehen. Denken Sie daran, ich ein ganzes Jahr nahm mein Kissen, um loszuwerden! Tschüss! (Trans: Good day, Lanny. Maybe you did not transition slowly enough. Remember, I took an entire year to get rid of my pillow. Bye!“
DANI: Wow, it only took you a year? I’m still transitioning. Here we have another reader submission from Louise. Louise writes, “Ever since I started doing your exercises, my husband can’t stop eating Cheerios. Thoughts?”
KATY: I – I think calf stretch.
DANI: Always the calf stretch.
KATY: Well, I mean it’s clearly – I think it’s just the calf stretch. I’m not quite sure of the mechanism, but there’s going to be a correlation there, clearly.
DANI: That’s good to know. All right, we have just one more question:
DANI and KATY: April Fools!
DANI: Thanks for listening to the Katy Says Movement Mail Bag, and thank you for submitting your questions, real and not. We’ll get to them as we can in these Mail Bag podcasts. Keep asking, keep reading, and watching as much as you can at NutritiousMovement.com – there are so many resources there for you.
We hope you find the general information on biomechanics, movement, and alignment informative and helpful, but it is not intended to replace medical advice, and shouldn’t be used as such.