Breastfeeding Ecology (Part 2) – Podcast Episode #77

We’re going to take another step back, and look at breastfeeding from an ecological standpoint. Breastfeeding isn’t one single behavior, but a category of behaviors that is happening in the context of all your habits and your environment. Katy answers more of your questions in part two our Breastfeeding Ecology show.


KATY: Not ducks like “quack quack” like ducts.


DANI: Ducts.


KATY: In case you were like wondering “Do I have ducks in my breasts?”


DANI: This is a very educational show. Stick with us!


Music fade…


KATY: Welcome to the Katy Says podcast where Dani Hemmat and Katy Bowman talk about movement: the tiny details, the larger issues, and why movement matters. I’m Katy Bowman, biomechanist and author of Move Your DNA.


DANI: And I’m Dani Hemmat, a chronically curious movement teacher. And today we’re going to dig into breastfeeding again. I can’t even believe I said that sentence.


KATY: I know!


DANI: Laughs.


KATY: You’re gonna “knead around”. You’re gonna knead, paw paw, around.


DANI: And you’re gonna hear thunder. There’s thunder going around in the background. It’s cool. Ok, this is going to be part 2 of the part 1 that was our last show on breastfeeding and also we did one like, way back when. Go ahead and listen to those as well and we’ll link to both of those in the show notes. And speaking of show notes, we get a lot of questions like, “Where can we find the show notes?” So I’m going to walk you over to them right now. Come with me. We’re gonna go to Click on “Listen” on the top bar or if you’re on a mobile device the box, then you’re gonna scroll all the way down until you see something about the podcast and the bottom button below all the buttons showing where you can listen to us is the “Get Your Transcripts Here” button. Click on that and they’re all there.


KATY: In order. By number.


DANI: It’s pretty cool. You can search and stuff. All right. Let’s get back to breastfeeding.


KATY: Okay. Yeah, we have so much…


DANI: Oh my gosh…


KATY: We have so many questions on the show.


DANI: Stacks! Stacks of questions.


KATY: We will not be able to get to all of them but again, like we say often, most of the questions that we get are, they’re really personal, like, “Why is this happening to me?” and my answer is “I don’t know.” And that would be a very boring show of me saying “I don’t know” 20 times in a row and “goodbye!”


DANI: You should just do a one minute show for every person ever.


KATY: Exactly. Well, my one minute show for every single person is essentially this… all I can really talk about is movement. That movement is not exercise. Exercise is not, like, they’re not equal. That you’re constantly adapting to all these movements that you do and that the situation that you’re experiencing, your whole entire physical experience can be relating back to how you move. The alignment of your body, the frequency that you use your body, the repetitious movements that you have. But probably most importantly is how sedentary you actually are. The sedentarism is very hard to detect when every other person that you know and will come into contact with is equally sedentary almost entirely non-moving. It’s hard for even the concepts that we’re even talking about to make sense. We’re like, “What are you talking about? I move all the time. I did this. And I do plenty of these.” So it’s one, to take that notion and to just set it on the table for a second while you’re listening and consider the fact that if you are in a desert and you hadn’t had anything to drink, like you were existing on a few teaspoons of water a day, that that could sustain you but that the effects that you were experiencing would be of a drought. But if you had never been in a time of abundant water you would never recognize drought-like conditions. They were just, you know, what home looks like.


DANI: Hmmm. Right.


KATY: And so, so many of the questions are like, “Do you think it’s this?” and “Do you think it’s that?” And so alignment we kind of at first, we talk about alignment as “Where is my pelvis? And where is my ribs?” Remember it’s not only the orientation of parts it’s and then how you use those orientations of parts and the total amount that you’re using all of the orientations of all of the parts. That too is alignment. So to be “in alignment” it’s not just in your chair adjusting your hips and your ribs, it’s going, “Wow, I’ve never actually used my hips to carry my entire body for 27 miles in a day, right?


DANI: Right.


KATY: Like that there are so many layers and you can go back to all of our shows and slowly over time things will make sense to you. So remind me, I just got a great letter to this effect. I’ll share a little bit later on.




KATY: But I want to start, I want to talk about breastfeeding. So anyway those are always my answers. Is, my interest is how the movement drought, like what are the symptoms of being in a movement drought. How do those vary for different people given that we are consuming some movement although to various degrees, literally, you know of our bodies and of different frequencies? Although we’re still in the sedentary culture category together. So breastfeeding, like last time we talked about breastfeeding ecology.


DANI: Mm-hmm.


KATY: Which was when you have a question or are trying to understand breastfeeding or anything – anything biological – that ecological perspective when you start considering it you’re gonna end up with many different answers than when you’re not considering the ecological perspective. So again to remind everybody, ecology is the branch of biology that deals with the relations and interactions between organisms and their environment including other organisms. So how does your entire experience affect breastfeeding. And your entire experience includes the foods that you eat and the locations in which you’re doing it and the state of your right and left arms and how much you’ve moved your arms and your chest muscles throughout your entire life and then all of that for the child as well. That you’re just dealing with an extremely complex set of variables. Like there’s so many things…


DANI: Yeah, it could just go on and on.


KATY: You can. And we are only talking about one tiny piece of the puzzle. So I’m gonna talk about movement and habitat but you can add light and thoughts and history. Like you could just keep going on and on. So I do not have all the answers. I barely have one hundred thousandth of a percent of one percent of the answers. All I can really offer… I can offer you perspectives to which you can start thinking about these things…kind of thinking about them very dualistically. And that’s very hard to find solutions to these situations that are created by complex things when we have that really dualistic; “Which is it? Right or wrong? 50 degrees or 47 degrees?” You know, like, it just depends.


DANI: Right.


KATY: So put on your “It depends” hat and matching t-shirt. And then also, whenever we’re talking about breastfeeding, just keep in mind that there are lactation consultants and professionals that deal entirely with breastfeeding, family, maternal baby support.


DANI: Yes.


KATY: So this is information about biomechanics. It’s kind of cool. I think it’ll help you think. But at the end of the day, I’m not so sure that 100 percent or 87 percent of the things that I give are practical. Because a lot of times I don’t have any practical things beyond the things that you already have. I’m just talking about the larger issues at hand.


DANI: Right.


KATY: But people who are professionals like this, they often have really practical things to get you through the day. To get you through the year while you can, you know, mull on these things that we’re talking about.


DANI: Yes, and we’ll put those in the show notes. Some of those.


KATY: Show notes! And now everyone knows where they are.


DANI: That’s right. If you were paying attention. I’m not going to walk you over there again.


KATY: Exactly.


DANI: Ok. Let’s just go through this list of questions and if you don’t have answers, just either…


KATY: I’ll say pass.


DANI: … say “I don’t know.” Hit the red button. Or just maybe give us different ways of thinking about it. Which you’re just so darned good at. All right. I categorized these… and like I said, there were stacks of them … and this first group’s kind of about pain and ergonomics. First question: “Why does it hurt so much to lift your arms up over your head in the early days of breastfeeding?”


KATY: Ok, so, right off the bat, and for all pain things; The experience of pain is varying. Not everyone feels pain…


DANI: Right.


KATY: … the same situations, the same inputs, so, I would probably want to modify this question to, “Why does it hurt me so much when I lift my arms over my head in the early days of when I was breastfeeding?” Just to no project, I mean, I think a lot of times there’s a lot of, “This is, you know, pregnancy is a pain filled time.” Certainly for some but not for everyone.


DANI: Right.


KATY: So to keep those distinctions in mind is helpful. I mean, I don’t know why some of the things, you know, I was thinking of which could be a reason is, one, we’re already pretty unmoved and then, you know, it’s like if you had a personal trainer … So here’s the thing, I’ve said this over and over again, but I would say that deep, deep down when I say that all movement works in your body equally to exercise we still don’t really grasp what it is that I’m saying. So like a personal trainer, if you went to a gym, and they gave you a kettlebell and it was 8 pounds and you went from never doing anything really with your arms to carrying this eight pound kettlebell around for eight hours a day, picking it up and moving it around, that that would be very large transition. Like you’re, and you’re holding it, usually, you know, you’re not pushing it up over head and on the side. It’s like the same position, right?


DANI: Right?


KATY: The baby-holding position. You just do this over and over again for hours and hours. If you had a kettlebell and you did that and you set it down and then reached your arms up overhead it would be like, oh my gosh, like it would just be – you just introduced high repetitious, I’m gonna say high load


DANI: Yeah.


KATY: Because 8 pounds doesn’t seem high but to go from zero to eight for many can be high. Coupled with you have breasts that are heavier (thunder and dog barking …) Nice. Nice!


DANI: Sorry. It’s the thunder -they’re scared!


KATY: Coupled with heavier breasts maybe filled with milk. I mean you just added a whole bunch, you just on a weight vest over your chest and then you’re like, you’re sleep deprived, right? So maybe your recovery isn’t the same. Your nutrition might be a little bit different, right?


DANI: Right.


KATY: Because you’re constantly making milk. So I would say that that probably has something to do with it. But other than that, I don’t know. Those would be my ideas.


DANI: All right. Next one. What are some tips to avoid tension in the traps and shoulders from holding while breastfeeding? I assume holding the baby.


KATY: Yeah. Holding them up. One, change the holds you’re using which is just a fancy way of saying vary your position. Right? We’re very strong in the traps and the shoulders in this internal rotation so then we go to that position to hold our babies so put your arms down. You know. Um, switch sides more often. Lie down and let the baby lie down with you. Change the way that you are using your body while you’re breastfeeding so while you’re in that moment you’re actually not needing to tense then.


DANI: Mm-hmm.


KATY: Two, and this goes back a little bit more ecologically, broader, use your arms for lots of other things. We go to zero to the baby training program in our arms. And we’re already exceptionally weak in this area and now we just loaded this high repetitious program to it so I mean if you’re thinking, “Hey I’m gonna breastfeed. What could I do now?” Start training your upper body in lots of dynamic ways so that you’re, like, you can hang from your arms. You can carry things for long distances but you can carry them in different ways. Recently one of my challenges, I’ve been traveling a lot and I’ve always gone for the backpack. Super easy, right?


DANI: Right.


KATY: I’ve started carrying a duffel bag with a handle. No straps. And it’s a pain.


DANI: Yeah it can be. Sure.


KATY: Literally. It can be. Because I’m so used to having my hands free to make it easier on me. So I thought well I’m gonna reduce some of the ease, I’m just carrying this bag and like I landed and I’m often walking in the towns where I’m staying. And so it’s hard to carry this very … It’s got my computer. It’s just a duffel bag. It’s got my clothes and my computer. Often multiple copies of books. It’s like heavy. I’m carrying it on my head. I’m carrying it overhead and then letting my elbow bend so my arm’s behind me so I’m just hanging it on my triceps.


DANI: Uh-huh.


KATY: So by getting rid of the backpack, I’m like doing all of these arm stretches and different holds and carries that look way outside of the box. It’s not just like putting your backpack on one shoulder. That’s not low profile at all. Me, walking down the train tracks…


DANI: I’m picturing it right now down the streets of New York City with the duffel perched on your head.


KATY: And the duffel is like from the Goodwill and it’s like a tool bag. So it’s like some big tool… some guy was like, “Is that full of tools?” as I was on the plane. I was like, “No, it’s my lunch.”


DANI: (laughs)


KATY: So it’s awkward but I got three hours of training…


DANI: You’re a goofball.


KATY: I am. Anyway, so start using your arms for lots of other things. Non… that take you out of that one repetitious thing. You know, prioritize exercise and training for your arm as well as using your arms more in line with that non-exercise movement component. And the third one is to stop tensing them.


DANI: That’s a good one.


KATY: Which seems like a joke. And it’s not a joke. So like if you’ve been following around, you know, like sometimes we just tense our quads, hold our kneecaps up all the time. Sometimes our chests are just lifted; we’re tensing our back but apropos of nothing. Just habit where you can just stop tensing. So if you’re noticing a lot of tension in your traps, just without holding anything, like I’ll notice my arms are folded in front of my chest while I’m not holding anyone or doing anything and I’ve got tense traps, tense chest, and it’s not because I’m doing anything. I’m just tensing them first. So then I can just relax.


DANI: Mm-hmm.


KATY: Let my arms relax down by my sides. So if you’re an arm crosser, carrier. Just relax them.


DANI: Or hand squeezer. I have friends and students that will squeeze their hands continually almost like they have a stress ball in their hands.




DANI: And once I help them become mindful of it then that shoulder pain and tension will go away.


KATY: Yeah.


DANI: You just have to be aware of your patterns. Yeah. All right. Ok, “I get stabbing breast pains before the baby fusses to be nursed. It’s like my boobs know before the baby and it hurts. Why is this and what is this and why? Is it let down pains?”


KATY: I don’t know. But, I have a thought like a cool, just some cool information since I don’t know gets boring after a while. I don’t know why your particular sensations like stabbing… I haven’t had stabbing pains but I have had let down sensations so just because I think it’s cool to kind of know how things work. Inside of your breasts, lactating breasts… well all breasts … I don’t know if male breasts…anyway it doesn’t matter. Inside of lactating breasts for sure are alveolar sacs so very similar to what you have in your lungs. They have two layers. They’re made of two layers. Remember how your uterus has multiple layers?


DANI: Right.


KATY: These alveolar sacs, they’re two layers. The innermost layer, so it’s like if you imagine a balloon. Put a balloon inside a balloon, the innermost balloon is what secrets or produces the milk.




KATY: The outermost layer is what moves the milk, kind of what ejects the milk outside of the sac that it’s being produced in. The outermost layer, it’s myoepithelial cells. Typically not smooth muscle cells but they actually resemble smooth muscle cells more than epithelial cells so they function like smooth muscle. And when they, when those contract, it pushes the milk out of the sac and down into the ducts, which like lets it down. Not ducks like quack quack but ducts.


DANI: Ah, ducts.


KATY: In case you were like, “Do I have ducks in my breast?”


DANI: This is a very educational show. Stick with us.


KATY: It is, so I don’t know if the letdown sensation. I don’t know if everyone is receiving the same portion of that process. Are some people feeling the contraction of the lobules which is the collection of the alveolar sacs? Are they feeling the milk move down the ducts?


DANI: Mmm.


KATY: I’m not sure. For me my let down was really, it had like a phase to it. It wasn’t like a stab or contraction. I could just feel the milk displace. Actually, I don’t even know if was because I could feel it and it was coming and coming and then there was milk coming out. So it was a longer duration movement for me which I assume was the migration of the milk.




KATY: Interestingly enough, so now we got to, interesting to me is that, you know, I don’t know, one of the reasons our sensations or our experiences aren’t equal, though we have similar anatomy, as you get, when you start looking at anatomy on the cellular level and that you see that you’ve got different genetic expressions happening within the “same cells”, I believe I will look to see what I can find, if we can link it in the show notes, but that squeeze of the alveolar sac, that forced production capability of that mammary myoepithelial layer, that is affecting how hard that squeeze is, that ranges, that there’s different, that you can, those genes can express having more, I was looking it up. I think it’s, I think it’s, it doesn’t really matter.


DANI: No it’s pretty cool though. It’s pretty cool.


KATY: Yes. Smooth muscle alpha actin. So you can have within those same epithelial cells, you can have different amounts of components of those cells and then now you kind of have like oh maybe that’s why my milk doesn’t come down so fast or so easy. Like we all have different force production in those cells. What affects that? Nobody knows.


DANI: That’s crazy awesome.


KATY: Yeah. So it’s really cool to go, you know, ok well that there’s a range of experience that we see across people and what affects that range? Nobody knows. The fact that there is a range is too new. Anyway.


DANI: Right. That’s awesome.


KATY: Anyway, just so when you talk about breastfeeding know that, that this kind of idea that we have very similar parts but they can be that different and work differently down on the cellular level for whatever reason. I think it’s important, just when you’re thinking about well why, you know there are questions like “what about clogged ducts” or whatever. Maybe that relates to that. I’m not sure. And then what’s affecting how your alpha actin of your smooth muscle is expressing. I don’t know. Nobody knows. But those could be


DANI: That’s pretty cool.


KATY: those could be thangs.


DANI: Thangs. It’s science folks. Those can be thangs. All right. That was very interesting. I mean, gee, who knew. Golly. Ok, let’s see. “Are there mechanical ways to avoid or treat plugged ducts?”


KATY: Oh, I’ve never had one. Did you have a plugged duct?


DANI: Mm, yeah once. Once. And I think I remember hearing a story that you could just, from one of my relatives or something, about just letting the baby nurse a lot and little guy unplugged it for me.


KATY: Yeah, so there’s different types. Sometimes as I understand it, again, see your local lactation consultant.


DANI: Right.


KATY: As I understand it. You know it’s about movement because that’s the filter at which we’re talking about. But either your milk isn’t being pulled all the way out, which could be a nursing issue, like on the end. Or maybe it’s milk production where it’s seeping out in a slower way or there’s inflammation. So I just think that there’s lots of different, lots of different things. I don’t know is the easiest answer.




KATY: This is kind of cool. If you look up breast stuff, breast anatomy, pictures if you want to see how the body relates to this, to itself and all the different parts, when you look at breastfeeding you just get a picture of like the breast tissue, hanging on nothing. There’s no muscles with it. There’s no bones for the most part. It’s just like, it’s the breast. It’s a separate tissue. It’s just like the blood vessels and the fat and the lobules and the duct and the nipples. So, you don’t, you’re not often reminded that the breast is part of the ecosystem of the body. So there’s gonna be, there’s a lot of questions about why aren’t my breasts doing this or that. And the answer is, I don’t know. However, going back to that movement drought, how does that relate to a movement drought. Those are the parts that I’m interested in. So if you look at, like, the anatomy of your breast, I mean, we choose when we say that this is a part and it’s not attached. Like all those words are words about, words used to parse things, to tease things out, to look at them to discuss them. But they don’t work in isolation and so your breast tissue is over the musculature that encases your chest wall, right. So your breast is moved by the movement of your ribs. It’s moved by your pectoralis major, your serratus anterior, your external obliques, the rectus abdominis fascia. The blood supply, providing circulation to these muscles, is perforating, like through the breast itself. It’s also supplying blood to the breasts. So then if you’re like, if you’re talking about rivers and you’re looking at a river on the other side of the forest, you wouldn’t just stand and look at the pool in one area. You’d go well let’s go back to the source of that river closer and see if there’s a dam somewhere.


DANI: Right.


KATY: You would have a more, you wouldn’t be talking about the last 3 inches of a river. You would be considering the river to be affected by fluid dynamics and many other places. But we rarely look outside the breast for things going on with the breast. That are flow related, that are movement related and that are operating under the laws of the universe.


DANI: Sure.


KATY: You know the same laws of the universe that affect flow and everything else. Like the bulk of the people I work with, which I would say is a pretty good slice of at least North America. All different ages of different abilities. I mean we have a similar cultural experience for sure, but you’re looking at a lot of different people doing a lot of different things. And I would say that the bulk of the people that I’ve never met have almost no shoulder mobility. Which means like maybe they can move their arm all around but it’s moving from the spine. It’s like there’s not a lot of movement of the tissues around the breasts. So it’s like, I’m very interested in what happens to the inner workings of the breast when you start working all of the parts that I would consider to be of the breast. Right? Which certainly is the movement system that is attached to it.


DANI: Right.


KATY: You know, it’s connected to it. I’m not talking about well you know stretch your calves for better breast health. I’m like going, your breasts are sitting on top of this thing that is barely conducting any force throughout your life. You know.


DANI: Right. I’m sure some minds are blown just by thinking about breasts in that with that perspective. That they’re not just hanging there, you know, like a bag on a doorknob but they’re connected to everything, I mean.


KATY: Well I’m not going to go as far to say it’s not that. Like sometimes I have bags on a doorknob days, you know, but if I want to change those bags I just have to use the muscles underneath it. Right? So it’s just like I think that, we just have … can we stop talking about the breast as something that is in a vacuum? Because I think it limits, it really limits the progress we’re trying to make. And certainly in a time where breast health has perhaps never been poorer. I think that starting to think about it more ecologically in terms of just basic anatomy. It’s time.


DANI: Right.


KATY: I just think it’s time to do that.


DANI: Well thank you for that. I appreciate it.


KATY: For that rant. Pass. Let’s pass that one.


DANI: I don’t know. Ok. Here this person writes: “I guess I know the answer to this but my pelvis is in a permanent posterior tilt after breastfeeding for a year now. I’m so tired and my daughter is so big that I find it hard to stay sitting up straight or standing, though I do feed her in these positions as well. Would you be focusing on neutral pelvis whenever” … no, let me rephrase that … “Should I be focusing on neutral pelvis whenever possible when feeding?”


KATY: I would say, oh what would I say? I’m just gonna say.


DANI: And for anybody just listening that’s not sure, posterior means that you’re kind of tucked.


KATY: Yeah, thank you for that.


DANI: Your pelvis is tucked like you’re sitting on your tailbone sort of.


KATY: Yeah. I think that, you know, striving for, and like the best ergonomics that you don’t have to focus on that so much but if you’re tail… if someone was having symptoms like a lot of tailbone pain and they’re like, “Oh when I sit you know my tailbone really hurts and I’m sitting a lot to nurse.” And you know sitting in a neutral pelvis takes that pressure off, then certainly I would say, you know, adjust your skeleton in a way that helps you deal with whatever your symptoms … it’s for someone else it might be nursing gets my upper back so tense in which case I would say you know, can you relax your rib cage while you’re doing that. So I don’t think the ultimate adjustment for everyone is the pelvis and I don’t even think that holding your pelvis neutral while you’re doing something is a goal within itself unless you have found that your pelvic positioning that there’s a better pelvic positioning for you that positively affects symptoms that you’re having for whatever you’re experiencing. But that all being said, so I guess, so one, yes, I would say that, if you know of an adjustment to your positioning that makes what you’re doing easier on you, to think about I can do this while I’m breastfeeding too. This is a perfectly good time for me to be thinking about form just as if I was doing bicep curls or any other exercise that you can apply form to any part of your life. And then also, you know it sounds like you know your pelvis isn’t in a permanent post tilt because you’ve been breastfeeding for a year. To break that relationship up in your mind. I would say that it has more, if breastfeeding is what you’re doing most often out of everything then you might want to think about adding a lot more movement into your life. Like your pelvis might be tilted posteriorly now because of 100% of the things that you’re doing. It doesn’t relate to breastfeeding more than it relates to anything else.


DANI: Mm-hmm. Yeah.


KATY: I would focus on, I do focus on moving while nursing. Right? So like maybe you can sit on a rolled towel, this is like some of the exercises, like the click-clack exercise from Diastasis Recti, that book. To nurse and you can sit up on a towel and maybe you post tilt and anterior tilt. Like you’re actually doing a click clack. You’re getting more movement rather versus striving for a single fixed position. And it’s not always possible to add movement. If you’re like, “well I would love too but I’m having trouble with this nursing part so if I’m thinking about exercise the baby gets distracted”. So obviously baby getting food, most important thing. The second thing would be to add those things from Don’t Just Sit There, all those office things.


DANI: Oh yeah.


KATY: Your job is breastfeeding. How can I create a dynamic breastfeeding station? Bring your tools.


DANI: Yeah.


KATY: You have a yoga tune up ball that you can put behind you. Or can you roll your feet on a tennis ball? Like, dynamic breastfeeding station.


DANI: Excellent.


KATY: New book. I’m just gonna take Don’t Just Sit There and put a new title on it.


DANI: That’ll work.


KATY: It’s just the same. It’s just the same. We just have to recognize that the goal, the end goal, is really to get more movement overall. That that’s kind of…that’s what we’re taking steps towards. So anyway.


DANI: All right. Next question. Let’s see. “Are there ways you might expect our sedentary culture could be casting both nursing mom and baby in ways we don’t yet understand? Such as lymph movement, nursing frequency, and duration, lack of temperature variation?”


KATY: Sure. Oh my gosh. Absolutely. In the ways that we don’t understand or perhaps the ways that we don’t see. Like you get so, like the fact that we even perceive breastfeeding to be a sole relationship between the mother and the child versus alloparents and the child. That we really see that breastfeeding is an experience between a duo and not between a larger – a dyad is probably the better word. It’s not a singing group, like Sonny and Cher, breastfeeding. Yeah, that we see it as two people, right? So that is, that’s a cultural thing. And so when we’re, you talk about, “I’ve got twins, what do I do?” It’s like, well part of what’s casting your experience is that you live, you know, by yourself in a house and there’s no other, there’s no alloparents with you so it goes back to that ecological model where those would be components of nutrient delivery. Comfort delivery. You know making sure that everyone is receiving pressure, touch, like, whatever else comes, like breastfeeding… breastfeeding is not even just nutrient delivery it’s all of these things that we don’t even understand so just that might have been like, “Oh I didn’t think of that.” Like it’s just, I think it’s everything. I think that our entire experiences right now that we are having are, it’s kind of hard because like I have my own bias of that because I understand movement the I will process everything through movement. Which is fine. Like I recognize it but still I think that everyone in their own field is gonna do that same thing, is that out of everything that’s kind of, you know if you’re talking about like an evolutionary biology like a mismatch theory, we are in this movement drought. It is informing and shaping our entire experience of everything. And that’s going to show up, of course, in breastfeeding and everything else. So we could just come up with variables all day long. I think we’ve talked about the different variables.


DANI: Right.


KATY: Our sedentary culture, if we go back to like shoulder, maybe our breast experiences are, I mean couldn’t we also say that the prevalence of the breast health that we’re experiencing is, we’ve used terms like western European, or you know you’re defining your population as their age, as their gender, as their socioeconomic, like these are the ways we’ve chosen to define people. But we could also say that this is the breast health of people who move their arms at this frequency and degree. But no one has ever done that yet because then you would have to be able, like it’s not easy to sort for how someone moves their arms.


DANI: Sure.


KATY: And to what extent. But overall there’s gonna be these large natural experiences of like what happens to the shoulder health and the muscle, force production and all these things of people who move in this way but we don’t think about quantifying ourselves in terms of movement because, again, we just think of exercise. So you’re an exerciser or you’re sedentary.


DANI: Right.


KATY: The fact that you’re almost entirely sedentary compared to other humans alive on the planet right now and certainly all other previous humans like that your level of sedentarism is a total outlier for being unprecedentedly high. Like we don’t think in those terms. I think in those terms and I’m hoping that that will become, that really like that’s the whole point of what I write and this podcast and everything is to like really coach you through this idea to recognize how little you actually move. And not only each individual part, like you stretch your hamstrings or when you stretch your calves or whatever, when you go to move those parts to see that they don’t move but your total movement from place to place is unprecedentedly small. So, is that casting all of our experiences? Certainly. Pass.


DANI: (laughs) Hey, I’m supposed to remind you. You have a letter that you said, that you talked about in the beginning.


KATY: Is that what you’re waiting for? You’re so good. You’re like, “I’m just gonna wait until she figures it out.” All right so I got this letter in the mail. I love it. “I’ve been a dancer since I was a little girl and a pilates instructor for about 10 years now. By many standards a mover most of my life. I even did my squats when I was pregnant and somehow managed a non-medicated birth. But after my girl was born I fell into a deep dark hole. Maybe it was just a Portland winter.” I like that. I was there at the end of the Portland winter. People were not happy in Portland. They’re like, please. “Of course I was overjoyed with my baby but between the nursing and the rain and just being exhausted I stopped moving. I started doing things I’d never really done, like surfing the internet, playing games on the phone, and shopping online. I drove everywhere. And then the pain came. I started having pain in my shoulders, back, knees. I knew that I needed to move and would cry to my husband at night, “I never get to exercise.” See, my whole life my fitness had been tied to going to classes and I was convinced that I would start feeling better if I could only make it to class. But with a baby, I had no time. And on the rare occasions I made it to class, I injured myself. I was irritable, constantly frustrated with my child and my husband. A low point came when I somehow hurt my neck while getting out of bed one morning…”


DANI: Awww.


KATY: “…and I couldn’t hold my girl for 3 days. This went on for about 15 months. Then one day on a whim I decided to listen to your podcast while driving to work. I had read some of your stuff here and there before and had been intrigued but never truly “gotten” what you were saying before. Suddenly it was like the clouds parted. I could exercise, i.e. move, while I was with my toddler. Playing with her is movement. Walking to the park is movement. Squatting down to communicate with her on her level is movement and it is not only good for me but is good for her and sets an example for her developing mind and body. It’s been about a month since I began this journey and I feel like I’m only just beginning to make the changes I want to but I already feel 100 times better…”


DANI: Yay!


KATY: “…I’m happy again. I’m connecting so much more with my child, my husband, and myself. It really resonated with me when you said you thought your life was over after having your kids but then you figured it out and with your help, I feel like I’m finally “figuring it out.” And it is informing and inspiring my teaching as well. I still love pilates, and dancing, and movement classes and they will be there when I find the time again. But in the meantime, I am still a moving human body and that is the puzzle piece that was missing.


DANI: Mmmm! What a great letter!


KATY: Yeah, so it was lovely.


DANI: And it was like a letter letter.


KATY: It was a real, I’ve been getting mail…


DANI: It didn’t come through me, the gatekeeper.


KATY: I’ve been getting handwritten letters. Part of my step away from tech is to get back to this letter writing.


DANI: Lovely.


KATY: Actually connecting with people in a way that’s not like, “I just wanna shoot this off.”


DANI: Right. Admirable.


KATY: You actually have to create a ceremony around writing a letter. Right? It was beautiful. I get things like this a lot of times. So I think a lot of people are often, you know, it’s like, I don’t understand. Exercise or not exercise. I like exercise. And it’s like, those are all fine. What’s happening is because we keep saying over and over again that what you need for your health is the exercise. The classes. When you’re unable to get to them. And exercise classes are not inclusive. They are for a very limited group of people. When people can’t get to them, they perceive then that health is unattainable to them. And then it starts kind of like this, “I’m out of control, I can’t take care of myself. I can’t get to any of the things that I know and I love.” When you can break those two things up in your mind and you can see the value that’s in an exercise class and in exercise. You see what it does and what it is, what it’s definition is. And where it sits. And the broader context of movement. You can recognize that as movement instructors, for those of you that are movement instructors, it only serves the population we’re trying to reach better when we can clearly define those two things. Our role. What we’re trying to do. And then it allows us to get more of the thing that we’re teaching, right? Like are you teaching exercise or are you teaching movement. In which case you’d have to teach, you know, exercise and non-exercise movement. That you want to have that understanding of both perhaps if you are to best help this group of people that are seeking movement instruction. Right? Because they have even, they have even less understanding often times of movement because they are not, you know, movement or exercise aficionados who have been studying it and who love it. So the context, I think, in the end, by broadening out from exercise is only going to serve and help and help people like this who are like, “I can’t take your class. I’m sorry. I’m just gonna sit over here and be getting less out of my life because there was, like, no one showed me another way.” I think it’s such an important time. Especially, I mean, maybe I’m biased too, new moms in those first few years. But because of the way that we do it, in such isolation, like one person.


DANI: Yeah.


KATY: Often we don’t even have parents. We don’t even have co-parenting. There’s usually one primary parent. You’ve removed an entire support network from this person in a drought of movement. And then you end up with more sedentary selves. It’s exciting. It’s exciting – I think it is a very exciting time. A pivotal point, a tipping point, in movement and exercise science. I haven’t seen anything like this since maybe core strength came in in the 90s. That was a big tipping point too. Of going hey it’s not just your arms, legs, it’s your core. What’s the transversalis. What’s a transverse abdominis? That’s not in any of my anatomy books. That was a big tipping point and I think we’re in another big shift from exercise to movement


DANI: to movement. Yeah.


KATY: Yeah.


DANI: That’s awesome. That was a nice letter. Thank you. In fact, I say we just stop. Let’s just quit. Let’s quit. That was a great letter. We don’t want to, you know, bore people too much and this is a lot of food for thought in this one.




KATY: I thought I was waiting for you to acknowledge your “food for thought” pun.


DANI: You know what? I’m trying to un-pun a little bit. There’s so many out there. There’s so many out there. So I just gotta play the winners.


KATY: I support that decision.


DANI: Thank you. Thank you very much.




KATY: All right.


DANI: Who’s taking us out? Is that me?


KATY: That’s you baby doll.


DANI: All right. Are you gonna be anywhere fun when this comes out? This is coming out the end of May. May 30th I believe.


KATY: You just missed me in Texas.


DANI: Aww.


KATY: I’ll be heading to the Netherlands next.


DANI: Well ok. Well, we’ll all meet up there everyone.


KATY: Meet me in the Netherlands.


DANI: Road trip! Ok. Thank you for listening. For more information, books, online exercise classes, you can find Katy Bowman at and you can learn more about me, Dani Hemmat at




DANI: Thanks for listening. Bye.


KATY: Bye.


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.


Music fade.



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