DANI: Thanks for listening! I’m Dani Hemmat. Today we’re talking with Katy Bowman. How you doing today, Katy?
KATY: I’m doing great, how are you?
DANI: I’m pretty good. It’s hot here, so I’m hot. Did you get to do something cool this weekend?
KATY: Yes! Actually, you know what I did this weekend is for – I’m on a board. I’m on the board for an all-outdoor nature preschool and this was our first fundraiser. I’m in charge of fundraising.
DANI: Did you say fun-raising or fund-raising?
KATY: A little bit of both! And it was our first fundraiser, and it was an idea that I’ve had for years, and never knew how I was going to do it and I used it for this event and it was an old timey picnic basket auction.
DANI: Oh! Old timey! Awww!
KATY: Yes! You know, like from the movie, Oklahoma! You know, like, where everyone – people would just make these gorgeous picnics for two with all the utensils. All the picnic baskets were themed, some were all raw, some were all paleo, and some were all local and organic. There was one that was wild, foraged food – I did actual cowboy food, so mine had steak salad in mason jars. Everything was these beautiful steak salads packed in mason jars and cowboy caviar, which is a bunch of tiny, little chopped up beans and avocado and cilantro and tomato. I made frozen s’mores – it just goes on and on. I packed it in an old, wooden box. We had 30 of them and then people bid on them at an auction at a lavender farm here. People could sit back and have a beer or a glass of wine out until 10:00. The sun’s not even down on a 75-degree day on a lavender farm while watching the community just hang out and break bread. It was amazing!
DANI: Whoa, you totally did something cool this weekend.
KATY: What did you do?
DANI: Uh, I swam in a lake. (Laughs.)
KATY: That’s awesome! I remember you talking about it – you swam in a lake until your legs were numb?
DANI: Yes, I did! I swam until somebody gave me the danger signal in my head, like, “you’re tired now, you have to go back to shore!” But it was fun because I’m not a big fan – I like water but I don’t like swimming pools with all the chlorine. I just can’t breathe and it’s funky. And even though this lake is not clear and pristine, it was a lake and so I just swam and splashed. I’m not a lap swimmer; I like to goof around and tread water and go underwater. It was super fun.
KATY: Yeah, that sounds actually wonderful. I love swimming, and I love swimming in water. Natural water.
DANI: Yeah, swimming in water as opposed to swimming in the ball pit at IKEA. Don’t do that!
KATY: Yeah, land swimming really leaves a lot to be desired.
DANI: Yeah, you go to a park bench and practice your crawl stroke.
KATY: That’s right! That’s right.
DANI: Okay, it’s time for the question of the day. Are you ready?
KATY: Do it.
DANI: If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?
KATY: Uh, stilt walker.
DANI: Really? Totally wouldn’t have pegged you for that.
KATY: Yeah, we used to have Make-A-Circus Camp. That actually just reminds me of another good fundraiser – that would be a great fundraiser. But anyway, circus camp used to come to my hometown. Again, another little farm town where I grew up. And for one week, you would pick your thing at the beginning and you would train in it all week, and at the end your parents would come watch you perform, and I am an excellent stilt walker, still to this day.
DANI: Wow. I would have pegged you for trapeze artist just because of all the hanging that you’ve taught us to do. But stilt walking!
KATY: I’ve done trapeze. You know, I went to trapeze school and I did my leaps and my jumps, and I liked that but I’m not naturally really comfortable with heights. It’s not a problem for me to do, but there was so much adrenaline dumping when I went to trapeze school. I think I would also enjoy tightrope walking but stilt walking – I just busted out some stilts the other day. They were at a garage sale and I got up and walked around and my husband’s mouth was hanging open, like, “you learn something about someone every day! Who knew that you could do stilts?”
DANI: I knew I married her for a good reason!
KATY: That’s right. And here he thought it was ‘cuz I was a clown!
DANI: One who could make steak salad in a jar.
KATY: That’s right. What about you?
DANI: What would I do? I probably wouldn’t – you’re not going to believe this. I wouldn’t perform.
KATY: I don’t believe that for one minute!
KATY: I don’t even believe that. I think you’re lying to me. What, would you be the ringleader?
DANI: No, I would be the janitor skulking around by the elephants, slipping them bananas and kind of slowly cutting the shackles off their ankles so nobody would notice. I just – I couldn’t do it.
KATY: Wow, you turned that into a downer. That was a fun question but now I’m actually sad.
DANI: Just break out the stilts and everything’s going to be okay.
KATY: Do you remember that show, Carnivale? On HBO? That was really kind of creepy?
DANI: That was kind of out there.
KATY: That was really out there.
DANI: Yeah. We actually quit watching it because we got bummed out by the whole thing.
KATY: Yeah, totally a downer. That’s what I felt like right now. I went from circus to Carnivale.
DANI: Okay! So really I would be out there with my head in a lion’s mouth. Is that better?
KATY: I could see you as a lion tamer, like in boots. In heeled boots and a whip and a tall, shiny hat. And you have great flaming red hair and I love it. In my mind, I’m going to make this whole thing better by putting you in charge of – but that’s kind of a downer, too. Who wants to see lions in a cage?
DANI: But they’re going to be free, and I don’t whip ‘em. I just say, “nice kitty!” and they come to me and we have a good time. So, it’s a new circus. And we didn’t even think about Cirque du Soleil, why did we even put animals in there? That was just my own version of a circus. Well, I have a way to cheer you up.
KATY: Do it.
DANI: Okay. I wrote a little rap for you.
DANI: I don’t know if you can beat box.
KATY: (Beatboxes.) But that’s going to mess up the sound.
DANI: And it kind of sounds like we’re just farting together, so let’s just do the rap, okay? Are you ready?
DANI: I like big butts and I cannot lie! You, Katy Bowman, can’t deny! That when a butt walks in, and it’s tucked and flat, I wonder where that butt is at! Yo! That’s all I have.
KATY: Wow. I think that you have a whole new job in the circus. You’re the circus rapper.
DANI: Doing the silly, one-line rap. Where have all the butts gone?
KATY: That is the question.
DANI: It’s like a Mariah Carey song. Where have all the butts gone? Are our butts evolving off? Are they sliding off? What’s up?
KATY: Well, I would say that it depends on when I’m talking about a butt, we say butt. But we really mean butt muscle. We mean the mass on the backside that can perform work. That’s what we’re talking about with “butts.” That’s what I’m always talking about when I use the term, “butt.” There’s a lot of lovely buttocks out there, but I’m looking for butts that go with pain-free SI joints and a well-functioning pelvic floor, and fluid and dynamic hips. So that’s what I mean by “butt.” Optimal butt. So we don’t really use our hips anymore. We’ve spent so much time not using them, and since you adapt to what you do, there’s no point in maintaining muscle mass for motions that you haven’t used in decades.
DANI: So when you say, we just don’t use our hips, I’m sure everybody’s thinking, “You bet I use my hips!”
KATY: Well, I think that a lot of people think they’re using their hips because they see they’re using their legs moving relative to the ground, but most of the motion of the leg – the full long leg moving to the ground – it’s either happening at the spine or at the knee. And you might have a little bit at the hip, but the amount that should be at the hip and the amount that should be at the knee and lumbar spine is all messed up. You’ve got too much above and below, and not enough at the hip itself.
DANI: Hm. So what are some problems associated with that missing mass we’re not using, aside from SI joint pain?
KATY: Well, your butt muscle is there to stabilize – your butt muscle is there to stabilize the sacrum, which in turn, the sacrum’s job is to provide a solid structure for which your pelvic floor works against. Your butt muscles are also there to assist the holding up of the weight of your body on one leg as you move the other leg to take a step forward, and the butt muscle is also there to assist in the moving forward of the body over the leg that’s on the ground. All of that is happening at the same time, with every single step that you take when you’re walking. So it’s not – even though I just listed four different functions of the butt muscles – they’re not four separately occurring functions. They’re all happening at the same time. But there’s a two-fold problem: 1) we don’t walk very much. Certainly not at the level with which we should be walking. And the other problem is: not only are we not walking, but we’re sitting most of the time that should be filled with all sorts of other different movements, including walking. Since we haven’t done that and since we’ve had a high frequency of just sitting, our tissues have adapted to the just sitting so that when you do go for a walk, that walk is bringing with it basically the “chair baggage.” So that walk is not like when your tissue or structure has adapted, it doesn’t automatically undo when you start walking. Because you’ve spent most of your time sitting, it means that your walking is not really your natural walk. It’s your walk based on your adaptation to sitting. So now when you go for a walk, you still have to locomote your body over the ground so that you use excessive knee and lumbar spine. There’s all sorts of other coping mechanisms that still get you forward without very much of this hip extension happening, and this loaded hip extension phase of walking is when all of those delicious butt functions are happening at the same time, which in turn, ends up –
DANI: (Laughs) You just said “delicious butt.”
KATY: Yeah. Well, you started it with your creepy Carnivale. So yeah, I’m trying to think of – I was just watching a nature show the other day, and I can’t remember what it was. The gist of it was, the animal by just doing its job – man, this would be a much better example if I could just remember the animal or the thing that I was talking about – in general, the animal that was busy – Oh! It was bees. It was a great documentary about where all the bees have gone. Every human being should be forced to watch it in a Clockwork Orange style.
DANI: I agree.
KATY: But the honeybee, as it’s moving from flower to flower, its work that it’s doing is just gathering nectar. It’s only through the structure of the bee that pollination is happening, because the flying itself is creating a static charge that once the bee gets into the flower, it’s primed for attracting that pollen to it. It also has the hairs – a very specific structure – if it had the body of an ant, it would not have a location to hold those molecules or particles of pollen. So the fact that it’s hairy and the fact that it flies that hairy body over – as it’s doing something else that it’s doing – is what creates pollination. It’s not like the bee is going around with its job to pollinate. We say that it’s its job to pollinate, but it’s just busy getting its food. By it doing its foraging, pollination is the by-product. So in the same way that our by-product of foraging or walking around a lot to get what we need, and using our body in lots of different positions – the by-product is this butt muscle that also stabilizes the pelvic floor that also keeps up hips that have lots of mobility that also doesn’t over-articulate the knees and the spine, thus creating problematic movement. So we don’t think about ourselves as animals with biological imperatives. We think of ourselves as something different. So we go to the gym, or we go, okay, I know that I need to build a strong butt, so I do 4 isolated planes of motion when you’re trying to do your exercises to get your pelvic floor strong, and you’re trying to do your hip stretches to get your hips stretched. We’ve broken it all down, and that would be the equivalent of a bee just standing in place and flying its wings really fast trying to develop some sort of static charge and then it trying to separate the hairs on its back to make sure that it was extra hairy. The whole organic process of a by-product that comes from just being in nature, just living and surviving in nature – it’s gone. It’s not really gone, but we choose not to do it.
DANI: Wow, that really presents a ridiculous picture to think of a bee in that way. I just love that you said “animals with biological imperatives.” That’s what we are; we just don’t think that way anymore. But it’s true! Wow! That just makes me want to curl up and think about it for a little bit. Actually, right now, let’s take a stretch break.
KATY: Let’s do something for our hips. Okay, so if everyone stands up, and if you’re out on a walk just stop for a second. You’re going to bend your left leg up so that you can grab your ankle. If you don’t have a lot of balance, you can hold on to something.
DANI: So bend it behind us?
KATY: Yeah, bend it behind you, kind of like that runner’s stretch, where you’re doing a traditional kind of runner’s stretch. But I want you to put it back down and do it again, but as you do it again I want you to notice how you have to compensate for the lack of bend that you have in your knee. I mean, by the lack of give or lack of yield that you have in the front of your thigh. There’s a few different ways that you’re going to compensate. One is, you had to kick your leg up really fast. You fling your leg into your hand. The other one is, you have to move your knees way away from each other. You have to bring that, as you bend the knee behind you, you have to bring that leg way out to the side to be able to get it. Or maybe you have to bring your knee up towards your face in order to reach it. All of those things are very subtle what I call the smoke and mirrors way that you have to move around tensions that are, in fact, preventing joints from moving. But because we can move some other parts on the sly, we become – our immobilities become invisible to us. It’s like, “what, I grabbed my leg?” Well, yes, but I’m asking you to grab it in a very specific way that measures a very specific yield that you may or may not have. So do that, and with that you become more aware of the tension that you have in the front of the leg. Then you can try that on the other side. It’s just a regular old stretch, but the stretch isn’t really what we’re after: we’re after the evaluation of how much yield you have in the front of that thigh, and how much do you have to fake it to make it, and at what cost?
DANI: Wow, that’s really eye opening. I thought I just had tiny T-Rex arms, but I guess I Just have a lot of tension in the front.
KATY: Man, this whole show’s a downer! This whole show should just be called, Carnivale.
DANI: But you said, “delicious butt” and that was really uplifting and hilarious!
KATY: Delicious butt function.
DANI: Aw, yeah! Come on, that was funny! That was good stuff!
KATY: I bet you if you call it “Delicious Butt Function” it’ll be way more popular of a podcast, than if you call it, “The Big Old Downer.”
DANI: The Bummer Show. It is a bum show! It’s a bum show!
KATY: It’s the bum show. It’s the big bum show.
DANI: We’re talking about the bums. All right, then. There are a lot of words for butt.
KATY: Did you find them when you were doing your rap?
DANI: Yeah. That’s – the rap could have been longer. Maybe I should just do a whole Weird Al thing with the butt song.
KATY: You know how there’s a dictionary and there’s a Thesaurus. Are there books that just have lists of rhyming words?
DANI: Yes! It’s called the Rhyming Dictionary. I actually have one.
KATY: I knew you would know that! I knew you would know that.
DANI: Yeah, I own one.
KATY: So rappers all over, and poets, I’m sure, have these rhyming dictionaries.
DANI: Or you could just put, “izzle” on the end of anything and it’ll rhyme. Yeah, rhyming dictionaries are fun to look through. Just so fun. I think there’s even some resources online if a person doesn’t want to go out and buy one.
KATY: Or go out at all. If you don’t want to go out at all, all you need is a computer.
DANI: There’s that bummer show again! Let’s stop it. So I just – are we done stretching?
KATY: We’re done stretching; we’re back to the butt, yeah.
DANI: Okay. Well, for years I thought I had a really strong butt and it turns out I just had a really tight butt. I don’t know if many folks know the difference between a really tight gluteal situation and a strong, functional gluteal situation. In fact, I used to actively clench my rear, thinking, “I’m making these muscles stronger.”
KATY: yeah, we talked about this. Didn’t we talk about this before?
DANI: I don’t know if we talked about this. You know, we did talk about this in a different – in one of our first shows.
KATY: In a different podcast. Yeah, I remember that. I remember you bringing this up again.
KATY: You can still ask it.
DANI: That’s kind of the question. How do you determine if you’re one of those people that think you have a very strong butt? What’s a good evaluation for that?
KATY: Well, you’re after a strong butt, but – but – I think you know. Most of my evaluations have more – strength isn’t the end all that we’re really after.
DANI: Well, let’s say functional.
KATY: Well, yes. So functional – a good indication of a functional butt would be really great knees, a low back and pelvic floor. So if you’re experiencing any issues in that local region, then I would say that would be an indicator of a butt that’s not doing its job. But it’s never anything about one body part not doing its job. It just means there’s something awry in the system. I don’t think we can really pull out a part in particular.
KATY: However, I think something that would be helpful in the tight butt/strong butt diagnostics would be if you lay down – and this is in Move Your DNA – if you lay down, face down so that you’re prone, and you keep your pubic bone touching the floor. I ask people to lift their leg off of the ground, one at a time, not by arching the back, but by extending the hip. So that’s why I have the pubic bone stay down. If you lift your leg, in most people, the back tends to arch. The pelvis begins to tilt. And in that way you’re not really using the hip joint at all. You’re moving slightly north, to the top of your pelvis at the lumbar spine, and you’re using your spinal extensors because you don’t have the hip mobility to do so. So you’d want to keep your pubic bone down and see how much hip extension you would get with ease. And so that’s the critical marker. A lot of people can keep their pubic bone down by really over flexing their abdomen, meaning that they could use stomach muscles to almost tuck their pelvis into the ground as they lift the leg. Ideally, the butt and the hamstring muscles would be lifting the weight of your leg, if that makes sense.
DANI: Yes. Yeah.
KATY: You ideally want to lift the weight of your leg. When you have a lot of tension in the front of your body, meaning the muscles that are trying to pull your leg out in front of you into flexion, you can still get the look of hip extension, but now the butt and the hamstring have to work not only to lift the weight of the leg, but the weight of the leg plus the resistance pulling it in the other direction. Does that make sense?
DANI: It does.
KATY: So you are doing more than what is natural with your butt muscles, and at the same time, you are using the muscles on the front to stabilize. You’ve got the look; you’ve hit the markers, but you didn’t match the forces that I wanted you to be after. With alignment, remember, it’s all about forces. So the key is to be able to lift your leg at the hip without doing any of those other things. That you have the strength and the mobility at the same time to get that leg to come into the air. So someone like yourself, who has a really tight set of buns, what you might be doing is you could have a posterior push as you’re walking, but you’re having to generate more force than what is necessary. So the resting tension in your butt is higher than what it should be. That’s no good for your structure, either. Too little or too much tension is not good for a structure.
DANI: Actually, I no longer have a tight rear, but it took about a year. Maybe two years of really focusing on it. And my butt has actually gotten bigger and rounder since I quit clenching it, and I just use it in walking. That’s been kind of cool, because I like big butts.
KATY: You know, it would help if we had pictures. Do you have any pictures that you want to give me?
DANI: I think that would mess up our rating on iTunes. For a clean rating – you may not know this. Have you ever been to Montana or a place that has a large cowboy boot wearing population?
KATY: Just Texas.
KATY: I spent a lot of time in Texas as a kid.
DANI: There’s a real thing of flat butts or non-existent butts with cowboys out here. I find that very interesting. Is it the boot? Is it because they ride horses? But you can sit on a horse with a not-tucked under pelvis.
KATY: you can’t just look at what the pelvis is doing when you’re riding a horse. “They ride horses” doesn’t mean the saddle is flattening out the butt. It has to do with your most frequented load, whether that means you’re not walking. Even if you sat on a horse all the time with a neutral pelvis, that doesn’t give you a butt.
DANI: Do you think it’s the boots?
KATY: I think it’s the boots, the amount, and the way that you walk as created by the boots, and then it’s also the amount of time that you’re not walking. I don’t think it’s any one thing, and I also don’t think that any one thing is not connected to any other thing. They’re all connected. They’re all catalysts for a cycle of movement that ends up changing your structure.
DANI: It’s good to think that way. I’m working on it. I still kind of like to pull things out and focus on one bandit in the striped shirt in the corner, but eventually I’ll learn to see it in a more connected way.
KATY: Yeah, you will.
DANI: And I think it’s time too for an eye break! Everybody do your eye break. We’ll just wait for you. Go to the window, go to the back door, open up the sliding doors of the office, and focus on something far away.
KATY: Or maybe they’re already outside, listening to this walking instead of like us, sitting inside.
DANI: Find a mountain, find a treetop. Find an eagle, a squirrel. Pretend you need that squirrel to live. You’ve got to see that squirrel. I’m just inside, but I look way out and there’s the tip of the farthest tree I can see and even that helps. Okay, one more quick question: what are some good ways to build functional butt?
KATY: Walking. Squatting. Doing your exercises to mobilize those areas and then walking and squatting again. Sitting on the floor, not sitting in a chair. Not wearing positive heeled shoes would be my first to-do list.
DANI: Pretty good-sized to-do list.
KATY: It is, but it’s also putting on a different pair of shoes in the morning is not something to do. It doesn’t have to go on the to-do list. You’re going to put shoes on anyway. You’re already sitting there, so choosing to sit on the floor doesn’t take any more of your time. So while it sounds like a lot of steps, it’s really pretty easy to do.
DANI: It’s all about the choices.
KATY: It’s all about the choices.
DANI: It’s all about the choices.
KATY: And the stilts. Stilt walking builds some serious buns.
DANI: Did you buy the stilts?
KATY: I didn’t. That would have been cool. Maybe I’ll get some for Christmas. You know, stilts are fun and I like maintaining that skill, but – you know. My movement time is precious to me and I think if I have a little time I’d like to go out for a walk. I’ve got so many toys. I’ve got a slack line and I’ve got a TRX strap and I’m always working on these crazy different things. I don’t need any more. I can always make some stilts out of plywood if I need to.
DANI: I’ve got a really good slack line story.
KATY: Okay, hit me, quick.
DANI: I got a slack line last year but in the winter so I couldn’t put it out. So this spring, the kids and I took it out to a park, found some great trees, and set it up. Well, I didn’t read the instructions very well on the ratchet part of setting it up. So I ratcheted it backwards. So we spent like 2 hours playing on the slack line, having fun. Falling over, laughing, learning. Building skills. And then it was time to go. So I go to undo the ratchet part, and it had 15 feet of webbing stuck underneath the ratchet, so it took my son with his strong, little hands, and me holding as much slack line as I could an hour and a half to undo my brand new slack line from the city park tree. So mind your instructions when you set your slack lines up, everybody! And bring somebody with nimble, strong fingers if you don’t.
KATY: They say, “cut your losses,” that’s what they mean. They just say, cut it down and go home.
DANI: That was – the first thought was, well, I had gotten it on clearance. But it was still $40 or $50 and I said, I’ll cut it, and just forget about it. But then I thought, well, I’ll only have a 6’ slack line, and that’s no fun.
KATY: It’s going to take a long time to grow two trees that close together.
DANI: Right. Then I thought I would just leave it for the city. We have about 48 parks here. It’s amazing. I thought, “oh, I’ll just leave it as kind of a park fixture!” and then I thought that the first time they come through on their riding mowers, some poor guy’s going to clothesline himself on the slack line. So, anyway, now I’m afraid to set it up again. Is yours permanent?
KATY: No. It’s just a ratchet and some canvas.
DANI: Yeah, but you leave it up all the time in your yard.
KATY: Yeah, it’s not permanent. We can take it down and move it around. But yeah, it’s up there, in the rain and whatnot. At the beginning of the spring we moved it over the creek as extra incentive.
DANI: Ooh, good idea!
KATY: Yeah, and put a rope – a top lead rope – so that the littles could go over it as much as they wanted without parent support so they can get their own skills. All the nieces and nephews come over and it’s pretty awesome.
DANI: That’s a really good idea.
DANI: To have that lead rope. Cool. All right, so, what are you going to be up to for the rest of your day?
KATY: Well, believe it or not, I have another podcast to do where I’m a guest. I mean, I guess I’m a guest on this one, too. This one’s my own. I’m going to be a guest on someone else’s podcast. The book, Move Your DNA is at the printer, and I’m working on new websites. It’s kind of a workday today.
DANI: And people can pre-order that, correct? Go to MoveYourDNA.com?
DANI: And you’re throwing in an e-book, right? If they order before a certain time?
KATY: Yeah, a free e-book for ordering before it comes out, which is August 15th. So I’m not sure when this will air – this might air before or after, but we can only hope.
DANI: Well, thanks for talking with me today. Chin up, don’t let my visions bum you out too much.
KATY: No, actually, this was great. It was more of a joke. I feel excellent.
KATY: I’m not down at all. In fact, your rap – I’m just going to go back and listen to your rap a couple times.
DANI: Yeah, I’ll try and lengthen it for you and maybe I can put it on YouTube or something.
KATY: That sounds good.
DANI: All right, well, have a good rest of your day.
KATY: Okay. You too, Dani.
DANI: Thanks, bye bye.