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My guest this week is Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well and Restorative Exercise. Katy is a Biomechanist and her blog is a wealth of helpful information for anyone who wants to prevent and reverse diseases caused by habits of modern life.
Our focus for this show:
Habits and daily disciplines to prevent aches and pains in pregnancy and prepare for an easier labor.
Katy answers my questions about belly bands for postpartum use, proper squatting form, the skinny on sucking in your stomach and getting back into shape postpartum, pelvic floor issues and more.
Listen by clicking on the grey arrow below.
(A transcript of this interview appears below if you would rather read. It’s a work in progress, it was unfinished by a transcriptionist I hired so I’m doing it myself. I’ll be adding to it throughout the week.)
Carrie : We are joined this week by Katie from alignedandwell.com. Good morning Katie.
Katy : Good morning.
Carrie : I am so excited to be talking to you. I am a huge fan of your philosophies and blog. I have three of your exercise DVDs and have some questions.
Katy : Yes. Go for it
Carrie : It is funny how sometimes you just happen upon something on the internet and don’t really know how you got there. You follow that little rabbit hole… I don’t remember how I found out about your website, but when I did I just started digging in and reading archives and searching various things and thought, “oh my Gosh this is really awesome. Makes a lot of sense.” So please tell us about yourself and your background and what you are all about.
Katy : Well, I am a Biomechanist. Biomechanics is the science, the physics of Biology, I guess it is the easiest way to say it. My specialty is applying the field of biomechanics to injury and disease. And I have always been most interested in where disease comes from… the mechanisms … the actual cause. I don’t think there is a lot of work being done to try to find the cause as much as there is a lot of work done to take care of the problem. An engineer will usually figure out what the problem is before trying to find the solution. It is a lot easier to reverse engineer something than it is to kind of stab in the dark to make a solution.
So I have always that natural interest, but I have always come from a platform regarding the human from its original state, not the modern human because the modern human which is you know, not just the human living in the 21st or 22nd Century, but really the human as it is lived since humans were. So your earliest humans before there were cars and before there was abundant food, even agriculture. That population had all the same equipment.
We have all the same equipment, but the habits are different. So I have always kind of investigated how do the habits of modern living contribute to a set of diseases that we call affluent ailments.
Affluent ailments are all the stuff that you will likely have and that your parents have and that your friends have. And they are very normal they become very common within our population, but it is always important to maintain the prospective of they are still diseases and injuries based on the way we live. They’re not genetic issues and they are certainly preventable if you know enough information and you know, can change the large components of the way you live. And you don’t have to give up your house and give up your food, but for example just not sitting as much in chairs makes a big difference.
And then I would say that my focus has really become the pelvis. Pelvic floor disorder, female pelvic floor disorder was my specialty in graduate school so I did my research and my thesis on. So probably how you stumbled onto the blog was through something related to pregnancy or pelvic floor disorder because even though I do the whole body it seems like that where most people are coming from. They are coming to fix something with their pelvis or their abdomen and it is usually pregnancy related. So I have a lot more women who are interested. So that is also my greatest love and I am a woman that is currently pregnant. I just had a baby, but even 10 or 15 years before that I was interested in the pelvis.
Carrie : Cool. It just came to me. I think how I found you is I by doing some Googling about Plantar fasciitis.
Katy : Oh.
Carrie : Because my husband started to develop symptoms of that. Why in the heck is that? I mean when I have heard about in the past, it was something that elderly people had.
Katy : Right.
Carrie : I think that is how I found your blog, but I did come across an article on another blog, an interview did about pelvic floor issues. I am kind of lucky in that area I guess. I mean this is my 6th pregnancy, but I have not really had pelvic floor issues that a lot of women have had in their pregnancy. So maybe I accidentally did some things right.
Katy : Great.
Carrie : But we are going to talk a lot about pregnancy because yes this is my show and I am selfish and I can ask you some questions that will help me right now!
Katy : Right.
Carrie : You mentioned things like sitting in chairs and stuff like that. About 14 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child and took Bradley husband childhood classes. There was a lot of instruction about “tailor sitting” on the floor. That was something that I kept in mind. This pregnancy has really been the most comfortable that my back and hips have ever been and I have not had the pelvic pain. And I think it is because I have tried really hard to stay out of chairs and do my walking.
(Note about the pic: This is a stretch I do every day as part of a workout that Katy designed for Fit Pregnancy. If I forget, I have severe pain in my hips that wakes me up at night!)
So what are some things other than that pregnant women should be doing to prevent those aches and pains that we know so much about and also to prepare for labor to have an easier delivery?
Katy: Well, I think I always like to start off any pregnancy conversation with getting in their mind that, that pain and pregnancy should not go together. Again it has become really culturally common, but pregnancy should not be a pain. I guess that is the easiest title to give it. And that the pains that we have in the low back, in the hips, in the ligaments, in the knees, in the feet really have more to do with the fact that we are pretty de-conditioned as humans and that goes for even for people who exercise every single day.
We are still fairly inert for as a group of people, we don’t move very much. So if women can begin to get some of their strength before they are coming pregnant that would be most ideal – meaning that keeping yourself strong enough to deal with an extra 20 and 40 pounds or more that is going to go on your frame.
And so alignment has to do with the way that all of your bones are positioned relative to each other. Alignment in the skeleton that can hold the weight very comfortably without requiring joints to collapse or ligaments to strain. And that you get a lot of muscular development in response to this extra load.
If you can imagine trying to stack a pile of books into a table that is well balanced – the books are just going to sit up there. But if the table has one leg that is a little bit shorter or the top of the table is sitting slightly off… it might not be a big deal and it might be able to sit there in your living room as long as no one touched it, but as soon as someone stacks books on it, it begins to crumble.
(Note: Good alignment. Head on shoulders, hips over heels, bootie untucked, everything stacked up nicely!)
So you want to get to know the moves that support alignment in your body that will support the extra weight and start doing them as soon as you become pregnant. You have a lot of months after becoming pregnant where you really don’t have that burden of extra weight. So you can take your first first four to five months to start thinking about … and not just thinking actually doing some stuff.
That would include muscle tension interfering with your strength. So feet, calves, hamstrings. These are the tight muscles that tend to pull the pelvis out of alignment.
And so untucking the pelvis – which is something that a lot of people tend to do. If you are sitting down right now, chances are you are sitting with a tucked pelvis. One of the reason Bradley had you coming out of the couches is because you slouch in the couch and so you end up having this pelvis that tips back and the alignment of your uterus and your pelvis go hand in hand. You want to keep all of those axes vertical.
So stretching those muscles and then of course not using the furniture that encourages slouching are great to transition to while you are pregnant. Even if you need to sit on a couple of pillows that is fine. Having something behind your back that really allows you to kind of slouch and then walking.
I think most people knows enough basic exercise science to know that your muscles respond to what you are doing. So as you are getting more weight, as you are accumulating more mass on your body, it is important that you take that mass and walk around with it. So that your legs and your abdominals and your pelvic floor and your back become stronger as you gain weight.
So that the relationship between your weight and the strength is always even. You never have large surges weight gain during period of inactivity. If you are still working or sitting all day long it is really important that you take breaks. Walking throughout the day – if you gain four or five pounds over a period of a month but really only walk one or two days a week, you are going to find that your body is rapidly becoming weaker.
And then once you have that weakness and then the weight because full under instruction not to the pain comes from. So stretching, walking, reducing your sitting time and learning your alignment will probably my basic essential list for pregnancy and it will help with your delivery as well.
Carrie : Okay, and I will have you know that I am sitting with my bootie sticking out.
Katy : Okay, good.
Carrie : So I am doing good. Which is very difficult to do. If you sit on a sofa it is nearly impossible I find. So I have been trying to get on the floor a lot with my toddler. The only time that I sit during the day for a long period would be if I am sitting and writing for an hour, but I have been putting on my computer on the kitchen counter. When you stand you are never still … I am wiggling and kind of switching back and forth.