Restorative Exercise

Barbara Loomis: Uterine Wisdom (LBP 036)

Today I’m talking with Barbara Loomis, aka Alignment Monkey. She is a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist, a certified practitioner and educator of the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy®, as well as a certified Chi Nei Tsang and a Visceral Manipulation™ therapist. She brings all of these super powers together for the good of reproductive, digestive and pelvic floor health, and today she is sharing her vast uterine wisdom with us.

We talk about the surprising symptoms that can spring from uterine malpositioning- such as urinary incontinence, constipation, and even knee pain with ovulation. We also talk about the normal movement of the uterus, what we can do to keep it in as happy a position as possible, and some of the cultural things that contribute to a malpositioned uterus. We also talk about hysterectomies and the controversies that sometimes spring up around whether or not women should lift weights- i.e. does the contribute to uterine malpositioning and is it problematic in pregnancy?

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 Show notes

Brooke: You have a unique specialty and also a number of therapies that you combine in your practice. To start, can you describe your work?

Barbara: Sure. I specialize in reproductive and digestive health using manual therapies. I would say there are four main things I draw from my toolbox. There are others but the main things are the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy®. I’m also a practitioner and educator for the Arvigo Institute and I’m a certified Chi Nei Tsang practitioner which is Chinese abdominal therapy. I’m trained in Visceral Manipulation TM and incorporate this into the practice as well as Restorative Exercise.

Brooke: Could you describe some of the common uterine issues that you see?

Barbara: I should start by saying that uterus should be able to move, it has intrinsic motility and mobility. The uterus sits between the bladder and the rectum. The problem is when it’s stuck in any one position affecting its motility or mobility. Common positions, I see the uterus in, where it causes issues are retroversion- when the uterus is tipped back towards the rectum. Keep in mind, the uterus weighs about four ounces when you’re not menstruating and can double in size to eight ounces right before and during your period. That’s a lot of extra weight on the rectum if it’s tipped back, or the bladder if it’s tipped forward. There is an anteflexed position where the uterus is in a forward bend. It can also be retroflexed where it’s tipped back and flexed backwards. It could also be tipped back but flex forward. The uterus could also tip to the left or to the right causing issues with vascular flow. There’s also a situation called prolapse and there are different degrees of all of any one position. Some of the issues that I see with a retroversion could be thinner stools right before your period due to the uterus pressing against the rectum making the passageway narrow. One may also have painful periods, backache with your periods and fertility challenges. It’s not the ideal situation for an embryo to grow. The uterus may be lacking proper nutrients if vascular flow is inhibited. If the uterus is tipped forward, then you may experience incontinence or frequent urination. When you have to pee, you have this urgency but not a lot of pee comes out, which could be from the uterus pressing down on the bladder

Brooke: I’m really fascinated lately by how we segment things in a way where can never get to the root cause of the problem. I’m just thinking about things when people are dealing with the chronic urge like frequent urination and they’ll go to a doctor and they’ll get some medication to make them need to pee less but maybe it’s an issue of uterine position, just these things that we don’t think about. We don’t build bridges a lot of times between structure and function, medical pathology and position and alignment.

Barbara: Yeah. It’s really fascinating because even the bladder issues could be caused from something going on in the liver. I felt someone’s median ligament of their bladder was really taut but the listening took me to the liver and the falciform ligament was taut as well. I mobilized the liver and her bladder issues went away. The whole line from umbilicus to the liver and the umbilicus to the bladder all relaxed. I learned with the visceral manipulation through the Barral Institute- the body knows. You have all this knowledge but you have to put it on the back burner. If you read someone’s intake form and it says, “this is going on, it must be this.” It’s all good knowledge but when you ask the body it may take you somewhere else. It’s just everything’s connected, it’s not separate.

Brooke: For a lot of people they might be unfamiliar with what [all these different therapies are] like. Could you give us a description of what each of those two things were like the visceral work and the Maya abdominal massage work? People who are listening to us are probably a little more familiar with the Restorative Exercise that you also mentioned because I’ve interviewed Katy Bowman...

Barbara: Sure. The Arvigo Technique of Maya Abdominal Therapy® was developed by Dr. Rosita Arvigo. She’s a naprapathic physician. She specializes in ligaments and muscles. She did her apprenticeship with Don Elijio Panti -Don Elijio was one of the last Maya shamans- I believe [she apprenticed with him] for 13 years. The techniques are a combination of her work specializing in the ligaments and muscles, the Maya traditional therapies and the abdominal therapies. Then there’s one thing people don’t realize is that half of the treatments are on the posterior side of the body, the sacrum, the tailbone and lumbar area. Since the suspensory ligaments of the ovaries attached way up into around L3 and contained blood, lymph and nerve flows- we work around those muscles as well. I incorporate some other supportive modalities. The Chi Nei Tsang is the Chinese abdominal therapy which is based on Qi Gong, breath work and abdominal massage. The Visceral Manipulation TM is based on gentle osteopathic manipulations to reduce restrictions in the internal organs to improve their motility and mobility. The Restorative Exercise TM piece, as you mentioned, was developed by Katy Bowman, a biomechanist. I really took her training for my own benefit and my husband’s. I realized while during my training that this [alignment] is such an important piece for reproductive and digestive health. Say, if a woman comes in with a retroverted uterus and I helped correct the position. Eventually she puts on her high-heels and she goes back to work and sits all day with a posterior tilted pelvis. This position is pushing everything out of alignment again. It’s [Restorative ExerciseTM] a very important piece [to maintaining uterine position].

Brooke: That brings me to just wondering what are some other factors that influence the position of the uterus? What are the things that set it up to be in one of these malpositioned states?

Barbara: As the bladder and the rectum fills and empties, the uterus should move- it’s [those organs] all functionally and physically related- but say there is scar tissue from a surgery. Anytime surgery is preformed, there’s going to be adhesions that form. Inflammation can also cause adhesions in the internal organs. A fall, a traumatic fall from the monkey bars when you’re a kid and you fall on the sacrum, or chronic poor pelvic positioning like I mentioned earlier with a posterior tilt. If you’re walking around and or sitting with a posterior tilt all day long, it changes the pressure systems in the belly. It can put a lot of stress on those ligaments plus the uterosacral ligaments won’t be loaded correctly because you’re pushing the uterus back against the sacrum. Ligaments need the correct load for resiliency and proper function but if you’re not loading them they get fibrous and do not allow the uterus to move correctly. I’ve seen people come in who have been side swiped in a car accident and their whole viscera is shifted over to one side. Your organs are always moving and should be moving. It’s just when they’re pushed into one position quickly that may take more time to regain the natural position especially when there’s inflammation involved.

Brooke: Sure and trauma, I would imagine too. You mentioned loading- creating appropriate load for the ligaments. Just for people to understand, I’m assuming you mean things like not wearing high heels or other footwear that puts you in a strange position or not the tucking of the pelvis that you mentioned and things like that.

Barbara: If you have a positive-heeled shoe [the heel is higher than the ball of the foot], for every degree of rise that that shoe creates, your body has to create a counter-torque to stay upright. This [adjustment] happens in the knees, in the pelvis all the way up the body. There’s this dynamic relationship between what’s going on in the pelvic diaphragm and the respiratory diaphragm. When we shift our alignment that can change the pressure systems and how everything is loaded.

Brooke: In my experience anyway, in my practice, when I use the word load- I think we just forget that we are loaded. They’re we are in gravity and that’s happening all the time and how we’re moving affects those loads even down to, like you mentioned, the suspensory ligaments of all of our viscera, everything.

Barbara: Loads could be compressive loads as well. It could be from clothing. I had a situation where I had an anteverted uterus or anteflexed uterus. I’d have to get up a couple of times to pee. I would run down the stairs to pee and be like, “well, that was not a lot of pee [compared to the urgency].” I’d do my massage to correct the position and I’d be fine for a while but then it [the urgency] would come back and I’m like, “what am I doing to create this pattern?” I used to cycle a lot and I wore those low-rise jeans. I’d cycle with a post tilt plus the jeans would push into my belly and push everything down again. Once I changed my pelvic position, my uterus would stay in position.

Brooke: That’s so interesting- the physical activity you’re doing but also the load of the clothing, how it’s affecting you. In reading one of your articles, I found it really interesting that a retroverted uterus can also contribute directly to hormonal imbalances. How does that happen?

Barbara: There’s the feedback system between the hypothalamus that’s picking up messages from the blood, hormonal messages. Hormones are the messengers. The hypothalamus sends a signal to the anterior pituitary which sends a signal. The ovaries pick that up and send the signal back and there’s an inhibiting or stimulating cycle in that feedback loop. When the uterus is shifted out of position and immobile, it can restrict blood, lymph, nerve and energy flow. It can create pelvic congestion. It can create acidity if cellular debris is not being carried away. Ovulation needs a particular pH for it to happen. The acidity that builds up can in fact irritate the nervous system.

Brooke: Again, here’s a situation where probably a lot of women saying, maybe they’re dealing with hormonal imbalances like early menopause and they’re getting bioidentical hormones, or it’s women who are dealing with fertility issues and they’re going down that road... This is the kind of thing where we should also take into consideration that maybe some really good manual therapy is an important part of correcting hormonal imbalances too.

Barbara: Yes. The body knows what to do. We’re just giving it a little nudge and getting out of the way so it can do its job. We’re working with the body rather than trying to control it from an outside source. Typically with the Arvigo work, women may notice a different kind of blood coming out. For the first three months their periods may get worst but a lot of times they get better right away. Sometimes they’ll notice a brown blood that looks like coffee grounds which is old blood that hadn’t cleansed from the month before because if it’s [the uterus] folded over then it has to work harder to get the blood out. Usually by the third month, women will notice a bright red blood. For fertility, we recommend that you give yourself three months doing your self-care massage and receiving treatments usually once a month to give your uterus time to come back to the optimal position free of restrictions and go through a cleansing and rebuilding phase.

Brooke: One other thing, just in terms of counterintuitive, things you wouldn’t expect, you mentioned that women can also sometimes, during ovulation, have pains in front of the thigh and the knee when they’re dealing with a combo of a retroverted uterus and a tight psoas. Again, to me, I’m in structural field. I will not have the kind of person who’s not coming to see me for hormonal imbalance or infertility or painful periods, but they’ll come and see me for the knee problem. It’s just important to take that into consideration too. How does that happen? How does that create that?

Barbara: Sure, there’s a couple of ways. It may differ whether it’s pain on the left or the right. The ovaries are near the psoas, if you already have a tight psoas and the ovary is moving around and the follicle are growing during ovulation that can irritate the psoas and the genintofemoral nerve runs through the layers of the psoas and down the front of the leg into the medial knee. That happened to me as well. Every time I ovulated on the right, it would cause me pain and pain down the front of my leg. It can also be a cecum issue on the right. In 60% of women, there’s a ligament of Cleyet that goes from the cecum to the right ovary and the genitofemoral nerve passes underneath that. Pain could result from inflammation in the cecum or immobility in the cecum or in the ovary or in the ligament itself causing irritation of the nerves. On the left side- the left side is more prone to vascular congestion because of the venous return route. On the right, it [venous return] goes back directly into the vena cava. On the left, it goes into the renal vein and then the vena cava. Same thing with men and testicles, they are more prone to congestion on the left side.

Brooke: Interesting. I didn’t get to study a lot of visceral stuff. This is all very fascinating to me. I know that you mentioned already that there is supposed to be movement. There’s a normal responsiveness in the uterus. I realized that the term, “can it stay in place?” is a weird question to ask because we don’t want it to be fixed, but can these issues be resolved? Can it get into a neutral position?

Barbara: Yes, it can. It depends on how long it’s been in that position, what kind of adhesions have formed. I’ve seen cadaver videos like Gil Hedley’s, I don’t know if you’ve watched his cadaver videos they are really cool-he shows a uterus adhered to the rectum and he has to really cut through it. I don’t see manual therapy releasing that kind of adhesion but massage itself is going to improve the flow of the blood, the lymph and nerve and energy flow. I believe that even if the uterus is fixed in one positioned and can’t be corrected there’s probably other adhesions around it that may be able to be freed up, but the massage itself is going to improve flow so the body can better maintain homeostasis. Usually, I recommend, if you’re in a car accident or have a severe fall or traumatic experience that you do get in to see someone specializing in one of these therapies to help bring the uterus back to position and improve flow overall.

Brooke: It’s still very supportive thing to do regardless.

Barbara: I’ve also had a retroverted uterus. I may have all these things happen so I can experience what it’s like. I had a retroverted uterus and I was able to correct it myself. Back to the Restorative Exercise TM piece, I’m really big into self care. In the Arvigo work and Chi Nei Tsang, we teach self care. How to do your own self-care belly massage and Qi Gong and then the Restorative Exercise TM , the person is responsible for making these changes in their life that got them there in the first place.

Brooke: That’s very empowering. It’s a lot better than feeling like you have to hand yourself over to someone constantly forever.

Barbara: Yeah, definitely.

Brooke: It’s unfortunate but hysterectomy can sometimes be suggested for women who deal with some of the symptoms of a uterus that’s poorly positioned. I think, I hope, it’s done less now than in the recent years past. What are some risks of having hysterectomy before you have a chance to go through menopause?

Barbara: I’m not an expert on this but I did do a lot of research because my mom had a complete hysterectomy. I think she was around 38 years old. She also had an oophorectomy which are the ovaries removed. Now, I’ve found several studies that see an association between early oophorectomy- having ovaries removed-and dementia and other neurological issues as well such as cardiovascular diseases and anxiety. The estrogen that the ovaries are producing has a protective mechanism on the brain. My mom had dementia and was diagnosed around 55. I think it started earlier and for some reason, it got me thinking about her oophorectomy, and if that contributed it to her dementia, I don’t know. I’m sure all those things were contributing factors. Not to say that a women who had her ovaries removed is going to get one of those diseases. I don’t think they do take the ovaries out as much they did. This was back in the mid-80s when my mom had hers out.

Brooke: Yeah, I feel there has definitely a shift to try and preserve that and also just not to be as cavalier about suggesting hysterectomies in general for things like endometriosis or painful periods or things like that.

Barbara: Yeah, my mom had her hysterectomy because she had bad PMS. She had a retroverted uterus. I know when she was pregnant with my little brother, she didn’t know she was pregnant for a while. She wasn’t tracking her cycle. She didn’t look pregnant because the womb was growing into the back. She had horrible back pain and constipation. If this does happen, usually around four or five months the uterus will correct itself and break away from the adhesions and fall forward. There’s also a serious complications called incarcerated uterus where the uterus is stuck in the pelvis posteriorly and can interfere with the urinary flow, can be life threatening. That’s rare and it’s a complication that you don’t hear about very often, but I wonder when people say, “my doctor says I have a retroversion but it’s normal. It’s not a big deal.” It may not be, it may not cause any symptoms especially if it’s mobile, but it definitely can be a big deal.

Brooke: Was your mom’s experience a part of what motivated you to specialize in this work?

Barbara: I don’t think so. I was a teen then. I wasn’t even thinking about this but I had bad PMS and periods. I think that motivated me. As I learned more, I put together what she was going through. I wish I could have done that for her. Yeah, I had really bad PMS and painful periods and I went to a physician and they gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant. I said, “does this mean I’ll be on anti-depressants until I reach menopause?” He said, “yes and then you’ll be on something else.”

Brooke: God.

Barbara: I was like, it doesn’t make sense. I know, crazy!? I read Dr. Northrup’s Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom [resources] book when I was young. It was like, yes, finally someone is talking about this stuff and it’s not normal to have painful periods! I just started tweaking diet and getting body work. I was noticing this connection between tension in the belly and neck pain or emotions would come up when I massage the belly, that got me on that path of doing abdominal work and then I realized this is helping me, so I want to share it with other people.

Brooke: It’s wonderful. There seems to always be some controversy coming up around women and lifting and some people can really take that and run with it- “don’t lift while you’re pregnant. Don’t lift or it’s going to shift your uterus out of place.” What are your thoughts on those served debates or controversies?

Barbara: I think lifting is not always the same. There’s an appropriate way to lift that’s not going to cause excess internal pressure on the organs where you can totally keep it out of what’s happening in the organs. I wouldn’t say you want to start deadlifting when you’re pregnant if you’ve never done that before.

Brooke: Yeah, it’s probably not the time for a brand-new endeavor.

Barbara: No. Same thing with the squatting, your body has formed to how you’ve used it. There’s a progression of how to get into alignment to do certain things. I don’t think we’re designed to be frail and can’t lift things. It’s just modern life hasn’t required us to lift anything other than a grocery bag and then one day we’re handed this baby that we’re not used to holding all the time and that’s a load that we’re carrying that we’re not used to, we can tweak our pelvis or rib cage or just rest on ligaments to support that way. I think lifting is fine. It just depends on where they’re starting and what they’re lifting.

Brooke: I would imagine like you said, in our culture we’re not lifting much of anything because we’ve got these handy cars and trunks and whatever else to lift our things for us. Other things that you had mentioned previously too, our tendency, culturally, for many people a more tucked pelvis or clothing choices or shoe choices and that sets people up for either happy lifting or not happy lifting as well.

Barbara: Yeah, definitely. If you’re lifting something off the ground, you want to keep it in the posterior muscles and the glutes rather that tucking your pelvis under and carrying that load on your belly. That’s why in Restorative Exercise TM posterior leg muscle lengthening stuff is really important.

Brooke: To wrap up, I was like to have a chance to ask people what they’re currently fascinated by. If there’s anything either on your own movement practice or in your work with your clients that has got you juiced lately?

Barbara: Yeah. I would say, I started studying with Katy Bowman and reading her book Move your DNA. I’m interested in the mechanisms by which the cells convert mechanical stimulus into chemical activities. I want to learn more about how we move or don’t move, how that affects cellular expression in the reproductive and digestive organs or how adhesions and inflammation and mobile organs can affect that cellular expressions- how it plays out in different tissues, the uterus or ovaries and intestines.

Brooke: Yeah, me too. Start digging, let us know your discovered goodies. We want to hear about it.

Barbara: Yeah, definitely. Lots of digging and getting better at reading research articles.

Brooke: That is a skill. I don’t come from a research background either so I have to have my friends who are in medicine help me understand when I’m reading a good research study versus one that maybe wasn’t set up super great.

Barbara: Yeah. It can be frustrating. That’s going to take some time.

Brooke: Right. Thank you so much for doing all the work that you are doing to help women and thank you for talking with us today.

Barbara: Yeah. Thank you, Brooke.

Home play!

Today we're playing with supported sitting on a neutral- i.e. not posteriorly tilted- pelvis. Give it a listen to find a way to sit that allows your spine to chill out while you sit, as well as getting better in touch with when you are tucked and when you are not.

Resources

Barbara Loomis at Alignment Monkey

Barbara Loomis at Nurturance

Barbara Loomis' Uterine Self-Care book (a freebie ebook!)

Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy

Chi Nei Tsang

Restorative Exercise

Visceral Manipulation Barral Institute

Gil Hedley dissection videos

Christiane Northrup Women's Bodies Women's Wisdom

Katy Bowman Move Your DNA

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Katy Bowman: Move Your DNA (LBP 020)

Katy Bowman is a biomechanist, the author of the award winning blog katysays.com, and the founder of Restorative Exercise. Today she talks with us about her most recent book, Move Your DNA. We get into what diseases of mechanotransduction are, the profound ways our environment shapes us, why exercise and movement are not synonymous, how cardio can be harmful in our sedentary times, and how we are animals who have put ourselves in our own cages. Plus much, much more. Oodles more. So much more!

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Show notes

Diseases of mechanotransduction: instead of looking at the chemistry precursors to a disease (like a blood lipid profile), it's looking at what are the mechanical issues associated with this disease. The category  diseases of mechanotransduction are any of those diseases known to be influenced by something mechanical.

Loads: If you're carrying 7 bags you are going to be loaded by them. It is a response to this load. You are always being loaded by gravity, but the loads that you experience depend on your position relative to it. Loads are the affect of applied forces. The way you orient your body dictates what load occurs.

There is a big interface between people who are thinking in terms of biotensegrity and Newtonian biomechanics. I think one of the reasons loads can be so hard to understand is that they have been reduced to the applied force- like when knees hurt and people ask how much you weigh- and then determine that is too much weight for your knees. That is a very basic way of looking at loads.

There are other things tha affect the load to the knee like what's on your foot, the position of your foot, and of your knee, and your ankle and your knee to your hip, and your position relative to gravity- so all of those things go into consideration when you consider loads. It's not the weight, it's how you carry it.

It's really impossible to calculate a whole body load because the applied force is experienced differently by all parts of the body. For example: The wind going through the trees. In biomechanics, you're looking at a problem and asking how is the wind affecting these trees, but there is no way to measure how the wind is pushing on every single tree because every tree is experiencing the wind differently. Because that math is overwhelming, we have to reduce it so we call the load the wind and quantify the applied force. It's kind of erroneous to do that because it really doesn't matter, what matters is the adaptation of the tree to the wind.

[I give the example of the Orca in captivity with its floppy fin which Katy uses in the book Move Your DNA] Structures that are not maintained by their environment- we don't see ourselves in the same "tank" as the Orcas in captivity in their tanks.

It's that generalization of quantifying things- like saying an Orca swims in the ocean, so the Orca can swim in a tank, that way the "swimming" box is checked, therefore this [the floppy fin] could not be  disease of mechanotransduction.

You need to break down swimming into something more specific. You can call swimming a macronutrient, but if you look at the micronutrients the questions are: What were the distances covered by whales in the ocean? What are the speeds that are normal for a whale to swim? What about swimming in a circle, is that normal?

Where we are with movement is where we were with nutrition 40 years ago. We say, "Just move more!" if a whale in captivity were to just swim more, it would make the flopped fin worse. Moving more might bring about even more of the forces that brought about the disease of mechanotransduction- in this case the flopped fin. It might make things worse.

At the end of the day swimming more wasn't really the problem. If you walked in a circle everyday, you would notice that your body became shaped to that.

Then you walk fast in that circle, it will highlight those diseases even faster.

When we say we need to move well or differently, often we say [in this example], "Walk in the circle in the other direction." You would offset some of the adaptations with that correction, but it's still treating the symptom.

Corrective exercise is spot-treating these nutrient deficits by creating something novel instead of pulling back and asking what is the actual problem here? What are my actual movement requirements and how can I actually meet those instead of taking the vitamin or pill equivalent?

I just got back from a book signing and people ask what are the programs they can follow, or what is the prescription. And once you are in the prescription-land, you are out of movement-land. The solution would be, in the most general terms, to consider all of the movements you would be doing with your body if you didn't have any of the things you have. You don't have a car, or food in your refrigerator, or cabinets... How would you move? You start to be surrounded by the conveniences but opt not to use them.

For example, when I'm making breakfast for my kids I will opt to make it on the floor. I don't want to reinforce that they need to bring a chair to the counter, and my standing at the counter is a kind of cast- always bringing things up to that level where I don't need to use my knees or hips. Not only are they practicing the movements that are natural to them, but surprise!, I got squats in in my busy workday this morning.

The more you want to find an exercise solution, the more you will struggle with trying to fit it in to your day. Exercise doesn't support the movement paradigm.

There is some junk food exercise out there. [Using the food analogy] so many people survive on junk food or heavily processed food because it can satiate part of your biology. For someone who has no food, it is filled with positives. But the reason it's junk is that with some satiation of this biological signal of hunger, it also comes with a tax.

There's exercise that satiates many of the "you need to move" signals you are getting, but it may not support your health in the long-term. It's costing your body something that you will require in the future.

Exercise is becoming more nuanced. It's always going to be processed food, but you could be eating the equivalent of an organic, minimally process whole food bar. We're moving towards more high quality exercise in the same way that we did with food. People who know how to create something that is synthetic but better meets our needs.

In the next 40 years I expect I fully expect movement to be as nuanced as nutrition is now, and they will understand why a treadmill is really the equivalent to a Snickers.

So many people are out there doing a ton of work and taking time away from their families and crafting their lives around exercise for their better, and then they are getting this list of ailments, so I'm just trying to bring out the biological understanding so that people have a better context for why to fill in the movement deficits.

When you have sedentary populations- which we all are, even the exercisers- when they are still they are assuming one geometrical position. That is the bigger problem. I'm actually ok with people not bumping up their total movement as it relates to moving across the ground, even if you could just be still differently than you are always still, that would be a better nutrient.

If you are always sitting in the same chair, or how you sit in a car, you have this one specific body constellation. The bulk of your life is in this one geometrical position. Your mass distribution of your entire body has adapted to this shape. It becomes easier for you to do.

Then you have lots of kinks in your hoses of your arteries, and they are receiving a repetitive use injury because the blood is flowing in this exact same geometry, there are a lot more bends than there should be. You accumulate this arterial plaque, but it's secondary. You're changing the genetic expression of your lumen cells, the endothelial cells, you're changing some of the genes here because of this repetitive blunt trauma.

Plaque is put down to reinforce the walls. So then you take that structure and you do something highly intense for a short period of time each day and are accelerating blood through it, so you are compounding the problem.

We're trying to balance being sedentary by doing something short but high intensity, and I don't know that it has the payoff that we believe it to have. I think it would be much better for people to address that they can't be sedentary and in the same geometrical position for 98% of their lives. In the end that's what affects your arteries' ability to respond in the way they need to respond. In the same way you can't eat junk food everyday and then exercise to take it off.

Balancing out to zero is a mindset we have, but it's all input. Your body adapts to what you do the most.

I do think the purpose of getting your heart rate up is a skill that every human should have. I don't think that it is the thing we should be spending the bulk of our time training. If you are interested in your cardiovascular health there are many other things you need to do first.

If you look at people like Tim Noakes research on cardiovascular training and function. The notion that people have about needing cardio isn't really an evidence supported thing. It is understood in science, but it does not' trickle down to the health magazine that you read.

Brooke: I mention the Jeremy Morris study which is always presented as thig being the study that proves that cardio is good for us, when really they weren't describing cardio exercise.

There are a lot of conclusions that are extrapolations, and I always encourage people to go back and look at the actual data. Really what the conclusion is is that you should mimic the movements of the ticket conductor, not that you should exercise beyond what was measured.

I was just in a Reuter's piece (in resources) this morning and we were talking about how walking is really a superfood, it contains quite a bit of nutrition. And it's the thing a body would be doing the most of, it would be the most frequent vitamin intake. Then at the end a professor tosses on that it doesn't' maintain your bones as well as running. But that notion comes from a similar extrapolation. They found kids with strong bones and so put an accelerometer on them and noticed they were moving at 4 Gs. So we know that peak bone mass in kids comes at this high G. Then they had woman with osteoporosis wear them and they say they only got to 1 G. Then they had college students do a bunch of exercises to see what would get them up to 4 G, and running did. So then they just say, running gives you strong bones. That is not the scientific process. That is just everyone's need to be told what to do.

And the answer is we don't know what to do. We don't know how to take a whale in captivity, what kind of exercise program could you give it to have it be the same robust function as if it were in the wild? But the biologically plausible prescription we can give is to do the things you would have been doing in the wild. That's where it's at.

There is load science stuff that comes from physical therapy, we know that the position of your foot and the angle of your knee and the way you walk create load profiles that are likely to tear your ACL, and that's where therapy and correctives come from. We can know what exercises can balance out and distribute the loads well, those are great places to start. But if you're still swimming around your tank, your correctives aren't really enough to get you out of the diseases of your tank.

We only have limited energy, so I like to focus on the problem instead of treating the symptom.

Brooke: Would it be fair to say that our bodies are hunter-gatherer bodies that are undernourished by leading these lives of convenience?

Remember you are an animal walking around in a zoo. Reflexively your body is always trying to conserve energy. The decision to shuck convenience has to be a choice. You are going to have to choose to get out of your couch and sit on the floor. You're not really in a cage, you've put yourself in- there's no lock, it's habit. You can go outside whenever you want.

Movement is way easier to get in your life than exercise. Exercise takes time away from your family living. It takes a drive, a shower, a special outfit, equipment. It's not as easy as. "I'm making breakfast anyway, I can make it on the floor? I'm walking on this path anyway, why don't I just walk on the grass just 6 inches to the left? I'm going to the bathroom anyway, why not put my feet up on this squat platform?"

Because movement is not exercise, you have the potential to move all day long. I have no more time, I'm doing this podcast now so I could be sitting in front of my computer, or I could be standing and doing a calf stretch, and squatting a bit. Once you start thinking that way you can really move all day long even if you can't go anywhere.

Me: I think it's been diminished as valuable in our culture.

We've lost the understanding of the word movement. We are a non-moving culture. If you grew up in captivity, [for example] if we ask the Orca to figure out that it is in captivity, you are asking it to understand a concept of which it has no knowledge. We've never seen a person who didn't exercise.

The real difference between exercise and movement would be anytime you are doing movement for the purpose of reaping a health benefit, that's exercise. While movement is something that happens while you are getting something else accomplished.

You'll never have enough time to get all the necessary loads in your body if you are only exercising. In order to fit the time constraint you have to accomplish your life while you are moving. Movement has to be a part of accomplishing your life. I go for a walk every day and I need to accomplish something in my work or my regular life. I try to give my brain a reason for going out and doing some sort of movement that is about accomplishing something else that needs to get done.

Brooke: My son's school is about 6 miles from my house and we could walk it and he would get 6 miles in before school, and I would get 12 miles in, but these are the things we don't' think of when we've grown up in captivity.

I have a friend who did this and she didn't have time to do the full walk, so she drove to where they were 2 miles away. Then her sons had has a very nutritious movement breakfast before they went to where we all learn how to be still. She got the time with them and in a different context, and she also got a 2 mile walk to herself walking back, and she got them to school.

Brooke: What are you playing with in your own practice?

A lot of upper body hanging and playing is new and challenging for me.

Playing with surfaces is probably where my brain is as well as my own body. Looking at the difference between a set of monkey bars, which would never occur in nature, and then looking at trees. Not just their angles, but also the textures of the bark. All the things you would touch would not have been smooth, they would bite into your skin and require that your skin strengthen.

Our skin is a big limitation to our health. The muscles of the entire body has to pass through either the hand or the feet if you're doing something with body weight, and yet the skin has never been exposed to anything natural. Even if you are barefoot the nutrient you consume the most is a flat man-made surface.

I'm observing how everything is flat and smooth in my whole life. Nothing has asked the skin to the party. Nothing has asked the skin to participate in your body's way of moving. Walking on different surfaces just for the sake of the skin. Playing with grip, diameter, and how that changes muscle recruitment.

Our idea of cross-trainig is so small. We think about adding 2 or 3 things- how about adding trillions? The habitat we're in is really not conducive to health.

Home play!

Let's do as Katy suggests and imagine our lives stripped of all its conveniences. Where would you sit? Stand? Prepare and eat your food? ow would you get from point A to point B? See what new potentials for movement are revealed when you look at your life through this new lens.

Resources

The book: Move Your DNA

Restorative Exercise

Katy's blog, Katy Says

Timothy Noakes

Jeremy Morris

Katy in Reuters: Walking is the Superfood of Fitness

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Erwan LeCorre: Evolutionary Fitness

Esther Gokhale: Primal Posture

Darryl Edwards: Primal Play