We often think of nutrition as things like protein, carbs, and fats. However, movement is an important nutrient also. We need the right balance of movement nutrients (cardio, strength training, and stretching) to maintain optimum health. Additionally, we are now learning that movement is required on a cellular level for healthy cell function. Today we speak with movement specialist, Katy Bowman, to elaborate.
Dr. R’s Fast Facts
- Movement macro-nutrients: cardio, flexibility, and strength. These are like carbs, protein, and fat.
- Some cellular functions require movement for proper function.
- Nature provides us many forms of movement training. This includes everything from eye muscles to the muscle inside your hair follicles, which helps us regulate temperature.
- Taking a walk in nature, off of the path, is a great way to move your body in unique and healthy ways.
- Methods for obtaining healthy movement nutrition include:
- Walking in nature, off path
- Wearing minimal shoes
- Sitting/working on the floor instead of a chair or couch
If you need help using this information to become healthier, click here.
Episode Intro … 00:00:42
Movement is a Nutrient … 00:04:51
Movement is Nutrition … 00:07:10
Movement & Spinal Disks … 00:13:47
Movement of Cells … 00:16:15
Dr. Ruscio Resources … 00:19:02
Nature is Essential (Sight, Feel, Temperature) … 00:19:59
Walking Off the Beaten Path … 00:25:58
Thermal Regulation & Obesity … 00:27:00
Importance of Foot Health … 00:30:00
Wearing Minimal Shoes … 00:33:08
Maximal Body Use … 00:34:27
Episode Wrap Up … 00:38:02
Download Episode (Right click on link and ‘Save As’)
- Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement by Katy Bowman
- Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement Expanded Edition by Katy Bowman
- Whole Body Barefoot: Transitioning Well to Minimal Footwear by Katy Bowman
- Don’t Just Sit There by Katy Bowman
Movement as Nutrition with Katy Bowman
Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio. This is Dr. Ruscio. I am here with Katy Bowman. And today, we’re going to be talking about movement and movement as nutrition, I guess to put it broadly. But I’m very excited to have this conversation with a really, really sharp gal. Katy, welcome to the show and thanks for being here.
Katy Bowman: Thank you for having me.
DrMR: Absolutely. This is a topic I think people can get so much out of because it’s a fairly simple—it’s something simple to do. People don’t need a lot of equipment or lab testing or have to buy stuff.
So it’s a simple type of intervention which is this nutritious movement that I know you speak a lot about that can easily give people what I think is a pretty good return on their time and energy invested. So super excited, of course, to have that dialogue.
But before we jump into the particulars, tell people a little bit about your background and what you’re doing now.
KB: Well, I’m a biomechanist, which is a particular branch of kinesiology, which is the study of human movement. It doesn’t have to be human movement, but I guess we think of kinesiology as human movement. But it’s the mechanical principles, the Newtonian physics, the pressures, forces, tensions—how that all works.
I think I started in movement like a lot of people start in movement just because I enjoyed movement. I actually went to school to become a physicist at first, but it was kind of boring.
So I found this small department at the university where I was, and it was basically physics but applied to human movement. And so I did an undergrad in that. And then I did a master’s degree in that. And there was about ten years in between where I was just working with people who—
There are a lot of personal trainers out there. But at the time, I would say there wasn’t great training for personal trainers. So if you had a degree, you would get any person who had had some sort of medical exercise leave where they had been given physical therapy or, say, that they had a knee replacement or if they had a low back fusion or laminectomy, like a disk problem. They would send them to me.
So I started working with all these people who had had various, common injuries. Nothing was really particularly spectacular, the stuff everyone has—Morton’s neuroma or that trick ankle and the ACL repairs that they had had from high school.
And I just really became interested in what makes particular individuals more prone to particular musculoskeletal diseases, which is when I went back—after working in the field for a decade—I went back to college to study biomechanics.
And I ended up where it was the beginning of my journey, where I am now, which is I look at movement, how movement affects things on the cellular level which is, of course, where nutrients are affecting things.
It’s not just that they’re put in your mouth. It’s how they’re absorbed and how their end destination of your cells affects cellular behavior. Movement is the same process.
And so that’s where I am now. Now, I really look at what makes certain diseases. Some are musculoskeletal in nature, but others aren’t necessarily. There’s a lot going on as far as biomechanics of even things like cells that are cancerous in nature where they can move them to get them to stop being cancer.
So it’s a whole brand new field really, which is the mechanome. We’re familiar with the genome, but the mechanome is this new—oh, it really—the mechanical environment really does matter to cells.
And then the mechanical environment that I study is movement, exercise, all that kind of stuff. How are we affecting the way our body is behaving on the cellular level by the way that we move or don’t move?
Movement is a Nutrient
DrMR: So this, of course, sounds very foundational. This is something that has the potential of helping many different things. But I’m wondering, for the people listening to this, are there maybe a few conditions or syndromes or symptoms that you’ve seen particularly good results with this type of approach?
KB: Musculoskeletal stuff is so gross, meaning large scale. People would come in, and they’re like, “Oh, I’ve had this food condition for ten years, and it started with a little bit of plantar fasciitis, and then it just got worse, and then I started leaning on my other leg, and then that hip started hurting, and so then my back was twisted.”
Musculoskeletal seems to be the fastest—I don’t know if reversal is the right word—but where the symptoms tend to go away for those basic—like feet, ankles, knees, hip, low back, are usually the easiest place to understand biomechanics and to see a positive change in your own body.
So that idea is kind of similar to why you take your car in to get the alignment checked. You’ve got a wheel that’s not operating at the same angle as all the other wheels. And then you end up running prematurely maybe through the tread on one wheel. And then you have to replace it faster.
That idea of alignment, the relationship between the parts of your car, and the parts of your car and road, and the rate in which you drive it—that’s what alignment is. And your alignment affects the outcomes. It’s the same with the body.
So musculoskeletal stuff for sure. And your alignment is the baseline where we start with everyone.
DrMR: Gotcha. That makes sense. So people suffering with chronic aches, pains, inflammation, pulls, things like that—they tend to respond really nicely?
KB: Yeah, and it’s simple stuff. It’s complex in its academic or scientific theory, but as far as the corrective, it’s like, “Oh, when you stand, are your hips pushed all the way forward on the front of your foot? Or can you scooch your hips back when you’re standing in line so that it’s on the rear of your foot? Oh, look. You just decreased the pressure on your Morton’s neuroma or your plantar fasciitis.” So the correctives are very simple in nature.
Movement is Nutrition
DrMR: Right. Right. And I definitely want to get into some of the specifics in terms of ways people might be able to tell if they have imbalances. Of course, I may need to seek out some counsel for this. But simple tips we can give people for determining if they maybe have imbalances and then things that they can do to aid with that.
But I’d like you to, if you can, expand a little more. I think you’ve already alluded to this, but the concept of movement nutrition or nutritious movement, if people haven’t heard that before, can you give a little bit more of an expanded explanation as to what that means?
KB: Well, it’s a term that I started using when I was trying to help. Movement and eating are age-old experiences for humans. But as far as our understanding of nutrition, that’s really only been dialed in the last 500 years as far as modern peoples go, our way of scientifically breaking down nutrition.
People just used to think you had to eat. They didn’t know that certain diseases that they were experiencing were related to the macronutrients. You can’t exist solely on one single food for a long period of time. Despite eating adequate calories, you need a profile of macronutrients.
But macronutrients is a word that we’re all familiar with. But it wasn’t common knowledge until someone did the hundreds of years of labor to, “Oh, you add more protein. You take protein away. You’re going to see these diseases in these pockets of people who are getting more or less of these particular nutrients.”
And of course, it took the discovery of a microscope to recognize what was a micro or a macronutrient.
And then it took another couple hundred years before we had this idea of a nutrient, meaning a chemical compound that was something that you needed to input, like vitamin C. It’s not apparent that food has vitamin C in it, or that in the lack of, or absence of, vitamin C, there are specific tissue failures that link back.
So we’re all familiar with scurvy. Scurvy seems to be the one that most people got a primer on in elementary school. This idea that there are specific physiological disorders in the absence of particular inputs, that’s what a nutrient is. That’s what deems a nutrient. In its absence, there are particular diseases that ensue.
So while nutrition has been discussed for maybe the last 500 or 600 years in a scientific setting, movement is brand new. We just really started thinking about exercise as something humans needed to do. It’s been relatively new, less than 100 years and I would say more vigorously in the last 40 or 50 years.
It’s the same thing. We’ve got these macronutrients. We don’t have protein, fat, and carbohydrates in movement. We have cardio, flexibility, and strength. We’re trying to categorize. “Oh, you need a little bit of each category,” because it’s been clear that if you don’t get all of your movement food groups, if you will, there is some sort of issue that arises. So we’re reverse engineering human need basically.
And then the reason I started calling out the term nutritious movement is because it has only been recently that we’ve thought about exercise as something—you think of exercise as your arms and your legs. It’s arm day. It’s leg day. I’m going to do some squats. It’s ab day.
DrMR: Right. Right.
KB: We think of it as the movement is affecting these big body parts. But it has really only been in the last ten years, and the mechanism specifically in the last year, where it’s like, “No, your movement is actually influencing the genetic expression of each individual cell.”
Yes, your whole body is moving from point A to point B. And that movement of you getting from point A to point B is comprised of moving arm segments this way and that way and leg segments this way or that way.
But if you go to an even finer level, the only reason your arms and legs and other pieces are moving, that movement is moving the tiny parts of it so that you can have, within an active body, cells that don’t move at all. And I would say that there was a loose understanding.
That’s why people are always told to cross-train. If you pick up a fitness magazine, it’s like, “You can’t only run. You need to do some stretching. You can’t only train your legs. You need to train your upper body,” because musculoskeletally people don’t perform very well.
They tend to erupt with various injuries when they have some strong parts. But those strong parts are connected by weak parts. You have to train it all.
But to find out recently that it’s actually all happening on a cellular level, that the movement of the cytoskeleton—so if you imagine you have a skeleton within your whole body, within every cell, that cell too has its own skeleton. And then that deformation of a skeleton is creating a communication within the nucleus, which is influencing the behavior of the cell. Movement is happening on the cellular level.
So at first, we have protein, fats, and carbohydrates. And then there was vitamin A and B and C and D. It took a long time. So in movement science, if you read any of the general headlines or you’re in health at all, you see you can actually overdo cardio. So now, we’re starting to see a dose—we’re starting to see that there are doses.
So it took a long time not only to recognize that there were nutrients, but you can overdose on nutrients where the absence of them is just as bad as getting too much of them. You can have too much vitamin D. You can be ill with vitamin D.
So it turns out movement is the same way. And because movement is affecting you on the cellular level, it really behaves in the same way as something that you eat. It’s just an input. The input isn’t in your mouth. It’s the squish of a cell.
But it’s the same process. You’re responding to your inputs. And sometimes, it’s food. And sometimes, it’s air. And sometimes, it’s movement.
Movement & Spinal Disks
DrMR: This reminds me of something, and I may be butchering the name a little bit, but way back to actually my kinesiology training from a long time ago—my undergrad was in exercise science/kinesiology.
I believe that the spinal disks don’t, of course, have any direct circulation. But they receive their circulation, if you will, through a pumping that’s known as imbibition. So we require movement in order to circulate fluids to our spinal disks. Is that accurate? And is that somewhat similar to what you’re discussing?
KB: Well, that would be a lot of the systems in your body that are movement dependent. Why would your body not be moving? In Move Your DNA, I use the orca fin. Orcas in captivity have the folded over fin. And the reason it’s folded over, they believe, is because the loads to it are pushing it over. So if you’re an orca in captivity, you’re swimming in a circle slowing versus long distance.
KB: And it turns out that part of an orca’s anatomy, if you will, is the water and the forces created by the way that it swims. And so in this case, your spinal disks, part of your anatomy, you can think about it—is specifically movement, because there are a lot of systems in the body, like the venous return system, not quite as void of circulation as the disks. But so many systems in the body require the input of movement for their basic operations. There’s that.
This, on the smaller level, is the actual bend and movement of the cells mechanically, is causing chemical activity, meaning that if you put something in your mouth nutrition-wise, that nutrition is going to trigger a particular biochemical activity within that cell.
Movement does the same thing. It’s the same process. It’s the process of mechanotransduction. When you bend or squeeze something, there is a biochemical response to it on the cellular level that affects that cell’s behavior.
Movement of Cells
DrMR: Gotcha. So there’s this whole other aspect or layer of movement that goes all the way down to just giving cells some of the required inputs to make sure that they’re functioning appropriately, essentially is what you’re saying, right?
KB: Well, yeah. And the idea that cells need movement too—we forget that. You can think, “Oh, I know that the muscles around my low back need to be strong to stabilize my low back.”
DrMR: Sure. Sure.
KB: But we forget that those muscles themselves are made up of cells and that that strength is just an expression. It’s the net expression of many different cells. So there’s that.
But then there are other things like, “What other functions within cells are movement dependent that we haven’t even thought about yet?” And it’s probably going to be most of them because we’ve never really thought about—cellular behavior has been reduced to biochemical in nature.
We’ve set aside mechanical nature for the last couple hundred years for a lot of human physiology. So the fact that it’s reemerging is kind of cool.
DrMR: That is cool. And if you think about that strength example, like you’re saying, there are many things that require that strength to be there, not just the muscle but also circulation to that muscle, which involves many different things like nutrients and oxygen, and then also the nervous system inputs to that muscle.
So yeah, if you think about it, there are a lot of things that have to go into the appropriate function of the muscles, which we sometimes take for granted as these simple Neanderthal-like things over our appendages but don’t appreciate the nuances of what is needed to make those healthy.
KB: Yeah, and the skin over the muscle and the bone that the muscle connects to. I think we’ve made movement about fitness and about muscle mass. And, “Okay, you can have good body composition or bad body composition.”
But really—linking movement back to the basic operations of every system in the body, whether it be nervous or cardiovascular or your skin or vision—when you start seeing how movement is a part of these operating systems, then I think you re-prioritize it a little bit.
When it seems like it’s a luxury, it’s a fun, go-to-the-gym, it doesn’t really seem as crucial. We don’t see it as vitamin A or vitamin D or vitamin C. But that’s what I’m really calling for. At a certain point—it’ll probably be 40 or 60 years in the future—I would wager that we will have a very sophisticated dosage of movement for lots of different ailments that go beyond things like your biceps and your hamstrings and your calves.
Dr. Ruscio Resources
Hey, everyone, in case you’re someone who is in need of help or would like to learn more, I just wanted to take a moment to let you know what resources are available.
For those who would like to become a patient, you can find all that information at DrRuscio.com/GetHelp.
For those who are looking for more of a self-help approach and/or to learn more about the gut and the microbiota, you can request to be notified when my print book becomes available at DrRuscio.com/GutBook. You can also get a copy of my free 25-page gut health e-book there.
And finally, if you’re a healthcare practitioner looking to learn more about my functional medicine approach, you can visit DrRuscio.com/Review. All of these pages are at the DrRuscio.com URL, which is D-R-R-U-S-C-I-O.com, then slash either “Get help,” “Gut book,” or “Review.” Okay. Back to the show.
Nature is Essential (Sight, Feel, Temperature)
Now, something else that you also say is how nature is essential and how much we can derive in terms of getting our healthy movement nutrition in or from nature. And we have spoken a little about this in the past.
Some of the more exciting research I think comes out of Asia. I think more so it’s being pioneered in Japan—this concept known as forest bathing—where there’s something about being in a forest environment that reduces blood pressure, increases energy, increases sentences of subjective well-being, decreases anxiety and depression.
And there have been different mechanisms that have been speculated. It might be these phytocyanides that are the compounds that essentially give trees scent. It might be some of the increased exposure to beneficial microbes.
But what would you add to what we’re already starting to establish as a very important practice, which is getting time in nature?
KB: Well, the variables are endless. So you’ve listed a few. I’m just trying to think of other ailments. So for myopia, the incidences of those are huge. But we don’t think of “How does nature affect myopia?” It’s like, distance vision, the ability to see for a long way, natural light—those are two things that you can’t get inside.”
That’s another. Your eye is moving. What’s happening with distance vision is there’s actually a muscle within your eye that changes its length based on how far you can see. And since we’ve shifted to an entirely up-close—zero to 30 feet makes up almost all the experience from our eye. We’ve put, I call them casts, the walls, the lack of nature casting how far you can see.
But as far as walking, when we walk—walk more is a general fitness health guideline. But what are we walking on? We’re walking on human-made, unnaturally groomed, unnaturally hard, flattened, level surfaces. Meanwhile, our feet are in shoes, in stiff shoes.
So if you look out at nature, what do you see? You see lumps and bumps. You see varied terrain, obstacles, slipperiness, grade—all things that have been removed from our man-made world.
So simply walking in nature versus on a treadmill inside, you’re automatically moving your ankles, your knees, your hips, your lower back and all that muscles that are associated with that more just because you’re on natural terrain.
Other movement variables would include temperature variation. You don’t think of temperature regulation or dealing with temperature as a movement. But you’ve got millions of muscles all over your body, your erector pillae that deal with warming or cooling you through goose bumps, the horripilation, that muscle. Every single hair that lifts on your body has its own muscle to do that.
When you control your temperature all the time through lots of clothes or always having your thermostat set to one temperature year round, you go right into your car or right into your office and keeping you overly warm, then you never shake to warm up. You are effectively not training many of your muscles.
So being out in nature allows you to—it’s like cross-training for your thermal regulation.
KB: So you’re doing all of the movements to deal with—sometimes it’s hot, sometimes it’s cold. And you need the strength to be able to deal with it. And you have to expose yourself to be able to use all those muscles. So that’s just an example. You can keep going. But that’s what it is.
Your body really has all the parts for non-indoor living. So nature is kind of a tricky word. But I know what you mean when you say “nature.”
KB: It’s that outside, lumpy, bumpy place where you go that there are not a lot of roads and cars. And also in nature historically, that’s where your food is coming from. You can’t drive to the store to get your food. If you go to nature at a park, that still has an element of artificial grooming.
But if you go out to the wilderness, you’re going to find that you’re pushing things out of your way with your arms. You might have to clamber. You might have to crawl to get across something. You’re going to go across water.
We don’t realize how groomed everything in our life is so that we don’t have to move. And in nature, none of that has really happened. And so you get a tremendous amount of movement simply trying to negotiate it.
DrMR: Yeah, you make a few great points. I love the thermoregulation point. And that’s something that I never really thought about, but I think is brilliant.
And you don’t want to be the person who—something happens. Let’s say your car breaks down. And you feel like you’re going to die because you didn’t bring a jacket. And you’ve never exposed yourself to any cold, so you have no ability to thermoregulate.
So I think that’s really insightful. And I like to, when I go for a run, even if it’s cold, not really wear anything because I try to give my body a chance to warm up and try to brave some of those elements.
So that’s something that I do do. I never really realized there was another benefit to it. But I think it’s good to expose yourself to different temperatures so that you can regulate. But you make an excellent point.
And for people listening, maybe something to consider if you’re always bundling up everywhere you go and never exposing yourself to some cold, it’s definitely something to consider adopting.
Walking Off the Beaten Path
And something else you said I think is really interesting regarding taking a hike in the woods. You’re right. How often do we just walk on a path?
DrMR: Even though we’re “in the woods,” we’re still kind of walking on a sidewalk. So maybe this is a way people can incorporate a higher degree of this. Again, this is something that I typically do just because I’m a little bit of a—I want to say an idiot. But maybe I’m not that much of an idiot. I like to go—
KB: Maybe you’re smarter than you think.
DrMR: Yeah. I like to go off the paths. And there’s always a brook or something I’ll find. And I’ll want to go rummage up by the water.
And you’ll find yourself having to move in different ways. You’ll have to sidestep or duck underneath a log. And that right there is just going to force your body to move in unique ways, which is a great method of movement that you’re probably not going to get at the gym when you’re just stretching your quads or doing your squats or whatever.
So that might be a really simple thing for people to do. Go for a walk in the woods like we’ve been talking about. But go off-roading a little bit to give your body the chance to have these different movement experiences.
Thermal Regulation & Obesity
KB: Well, it’s interesting because the thermoregulation piece is actually a recent—they’re starting to add that as a risk factor for obesity. They’re realizing that one of the reasons metabolisms are so sluggish is a large portion of your metabolism is thermoregulation. And so if you’re not doing it…
I think you’ll see there are a lot of people doing more cold exposure therapy, whether it’s just hitting yourself in the shower for a minute or two with cold water at the end of your hot shower or in a more gentle way, just watch how you prematurely over bundle before you’ve even let yourself get cold.
It doesn’t mean that you have to leave the house without a jacket. But I don’t know if you have to put it on before you actually need it so that your body never gets the chance to even sense and respond.
And the same for going off-roading. If going off-roading seems freaky—a lot of people will say, “Oh, it hurts my knees, or it hurts my hips if I go off-roading”—something as easy as along most groomed trails, there are usually lumps and bumps just to the right of them.
KB: If you go to a city, just step off to the side of the path. You can get right back on the path whenever you want. But it’s a very gentle way to start going, “Oh, wow! I never realized how I’m not challenging my balance. My awareness has decreased when I’m on flat and level. And then I’m really using my ankle.”
And so it’s a way of getting more movement during your bout of movement. More of you is moving.
DrMR: Right. That’s an excellent point. As you’re talking about the thermoregulation point, I think of one of the things that I do just because it feels good to me, but it sounds like there is some good physiological benefit from that.
When I work from home, the first thing I do is I just open up the window in my office as wide as it goes. And it doesn’t matter if it’s 40 degrees out or if it’s 90 degrees out. And when it’s 40, I actually kind of like it because after about an hour I get cold and I have to put some clothes on.
But I like having my body go through that feeling of getting cold and then needing to warm itself back up. There’s just something—well, it’s a bit stimulating, I suppose. Being cold is stimulating.
And I think I like that first thing in the morning because it just gets me stimulated. It makes me feel like I’m fresh and my mind is sharp rather than being like, if it was hot. If it were 110 degrees, I would probably feel much more sluggish in the morning. So yeah, I guess there is definitely a benefit to cold.
So for people who are avoiding cold, maybe give yourself a little bit of a dose and see how it goes.
KB: And think of it as movement.
DrMR: Yeah, absolutely.
KB: Heating up is movement. So if you’re like, “I want more movement in my life,” it doesn’t all have to be big arm and leg stuff. It could be as simple as opening up the window while you sit there because you are going to move more parts of you during that otherwise sedentary time. So there is definitely tremendous value to it.
Importance of Foot Health
DrMR: Right, absolutely. So Katy, what some things that people can do in terms of self-assessments or self-help? And I realize some of this you may need someone to work with. But are there any things that people can do to take stock of “Here’s a major problem in my hips, and here are a couple simple self-help things I could do to start rectifying this”?
KB: Any issue musculoskeletally in the body, I always recommend that people check their shoes, what they’re putting on their feet. Grab the shoe that you wear most often. And look at the heel.
Does it have an elevated heel on it? And just from a purely geometrical point of view, if you were to lift the back of your car up tremendously over the front of your car, there are going to be some structural changes because of it. And the same goes for a human being. So how much heel do you have on your shoe?
Grab your shoe. Twist is long ways. Try to fold it up. And see how mobile it is because that’s going to give you a sense of every step that you take with your body. If your foot is not able to deform well, if you’ve got some sort of wedge underneath your heel all day, there are going to be these long term displacements of your hips, which then, of course, become long term displacements of your vertebral column (especially the lower back is very susceptible), tension around the knees, etc. So I always say start there.
And if you haven’t already—I’m not sure if you’ve ever covered this—start making a transition more towards to minimal shoes. You don’t have to do barefoot shoes. But you’re trying to establish a better baseline geometry for your body. And shoes are this unnatural, constant—it’s not natural to walk downhill every single step of your life.
KB: And that’s kind of what has happened with shoes. Because it’s our cultural way of adorning our feet, we’ve, without realizing it, created this particular mechanical environment of high pressures in certain areas of the foot and disabled certain areas of the body from working simply because of the geometry that is created by the shoes. So that’s a simple one.
Add more walking. Or if you’re already walking, just like we already said, see how well you handle—I don’t want to say rough terrain, but non-flat terrain.
And then there are the basic alignment things. If you assumed your most basic stance, if you look down, are your feet pointing in the same direction? Or do you have one foot that veers off?
Think about if you were looking at your car. Look at your feet when you’re relaxed, standing in neutral. Would you drive a car if its tires were pointed the way your feet are pointed? Or is there something happening where one leg isn’t articulating in the same way as the other leg constantly, all the time?
That’s the first level that we work with, basic gait, starting with your feet, up to your knees, up to your hips and so on.
Wearing Minimal Shoes
DrMR: Gotcha. And something we have talked about is the minimal shoes. And I’ve shared my own experience with those where that has just been a game changer for me.
DrMR: I really struggle now wearing regular shoes, especially if they’re shoes with a lot of cushion. I just feel so goofy and uncoordinated.
DrMR: I don’t even know how people can walk in them anymore, because when you walk in a minimal or flat-soled shoe, you just feel like you’re so responsive.
DrMR: Your foot hits the ground. And immediately, you sense where you are. And you can change directions. And it’s an immediate communication between what you push off on to control yourself and your foot. And so you feel much faster. It’s a strange thing to say you feel faster just because of your shoes. But walking in flat-soled shoes, I just feel like I’m very quick and nimble on my feet.
And the older shoes that I have with all the padding in them, I rarely wear them because I literally feel like a goofball, because it’s just like you step and it’s like, “Okay. When am I going to get that proprioceptive feedback to know where I am?” And it’s a delay. And it feels goofy and awkward.
And the same thing also with dress shoes with the high heels. It feels terrible once you get used to not using those. So I can say for myself, definitely the minimal shoes was a pretty big game changer.
Maximal Body Use
KB: Well, minimal shoes—we call them minimal because it’s minimal material—but it’s really maximal body use. Less material, more movement. That’s the point. All of this that we’re talking about is less stuff, less air condition and heating and more movement of all of your body parts.
And it’s the same phenomenon. Once you’ve developed your ability to quickly thermoregulate, then when you come in, you get too hot. You’re so effective that having too many clothes on, being over bundled feels like a liability. You’re like, “I just have to take off what I used to perceive as comfortable now because my body is doing more movement. Now this uncomfortable.” And it goes the same.
I have transitioned away from furniture. We don’t have couches anymore or seats because it’s the same thing as that overly cushioned. I started writing books about minimal footwear. That’s where I started like most people. But I just kept that idea going.
Where else do I have an overly structured, movement disabling setup in my life? I have it in my closet. But it was, “Oh, the couch.” You just plop right into the couch.
And your knees and hips—you go to the gym to try to bend your knees and hips to a certain degree and practice your squats and stretches. But you’ll come home and practice for nine hours not doing that.
KB: You’ll actually practice setting your muscles to the point where they don’t do that with ease to the point where you have to go to therapy to be able to restore that.
So I was like, “What would happen if I got rid of my couch?” And at first, I just didn’t use it for a long time. And then I realized, “Man, sitting on the floor is essentially all off the stretches that I was doing to correct the problem of sitting in the chair.”
KB: They look exactly. I was like, “This looks like a yoga pose that you get from a class. This step right here—”
DrMR: As you move, you shift positions from one to the other to get comfortable—
KB: Of course.
DrMR: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good point.
KB: You’re just moving and stretching. Only you’re not calling it exercise. It doesn’t take a class. You can watch a show. You can work on your laptop.
We got rid of everything in our house. And lo and behold, my squats just perfected themselves without any squat practice because I was squatting in my life. I was moving more.
You could think about that one way of, “How do I fix my particular alignments in this environment?” And I really suggest now that people start looking at their environment to see how their environment is coaxing out a particular shape to the body in whatever experience you’re having right now.
If it’s painful or otherwise, that has a lot to do with how you’re using it on a minute-to-minute basis, more so than what you’re doing for exercise.
DrMR: And to share with the audience a way that I’ve started to adopt that practice. I’ll try to take at least three days a week—these are the three days a week that I work from home. So I have the most time to do it. But I’m sure someone could find, if they have a regular 9-5 job, some time to do this—where I have about an hour of computer work to do.
And I’ll just take my laptop and just sit on the living room floor and do that hour there. And usually every five minutes or so, you have to move. And just like you’re saying, Katy, you find yourself moving into different positions that are positions that people go to the gym to do as stretches anyway.
DrMR: So that’s maybe an easy way for people to start. Just take your laptop, if you have some computer work to do, and try to do an hour from the floor.
DrMR: Easy way for people to start.
Episode Wrap Up
DrMR: Easy. So Katy, if people wanted to get some more help in this area—I know you’ve written a bunch. And you have a very active website. So tell people more about where they can connect with you or track you down and what other resources you have available for people.
KB: Well, my website is Nutritious Movement, which is pretty easy to remember. And everything is housed there. I’ve been doing a podcast for years, and I wrote a blog for almost ten years, which I’ve recently closed. But there are hundreds of articles on there.
And then there are eight books that are really kind of little components of what we talked. My biggest book on this matter is Move Your DNA. And then from that are The Whole Body Barefoot—how do you transition this to your feet? And then Don’t Just Sit There—how do you transition your office?
So it doesn’t matter what level you want to participate. You can usually find some simple ways to get moving a whole lot more of your body a whole lot more.
And then social media is good because I post a lot of examples of what a movement-rich lifestyle looks like. So you can see what my house looks like. And you can see what my office looks like. And how we get more movement into our lives without necessarily adding more exercise. So those are all the ways you can track me down.
DrMR: Awesome. Well, Katy, thanks so much for taking the time. It’s been a great conversation. And for everyone listening, I’m sure they’re going to get a lot out of this. So Katy, thank you again for your work and taking the time.
KB: Thanks, Michael.
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