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Squatty Potty for beginners

I clearly remember the day the squatty potty became a part of our lives. I went to the bathroom, only to see a strange plastic piece in front of the toilet, with a note: “How about that for a sh**ty gift?”

My husband, a man of humor and love for health, had made the purchase for me. I tried to pretend no feedback was expected over the next few days. There isn’t much poop talk in our home – we have good poops and we aren’t obsessing with impoving them. How about sleep? Or productivity? Let’s talk about something that really needs improving.

Enough poop bragging. I was already sold on the squatty potty – I will take up any chance to move more! A couple extra squats per day – I was in. What I found in the next few days was that my time in the toilet became even faster and elimination felt even easier. I also enjoyed the nice workout for my hip joints. As my legs went up I also got an unexpected massage for my belly. See, when you are “squatting” instead of “sitting” to poo, the mechanics of it all look and feel very different. On the inside, muscles and organs are churning in a new, closer to their natural way.

Check out this fast-gone-viral video from Squatty Potty, which beautifully explains the action of the puborectalis muscle – one responsible for the anchoring of your poo pipes (picture here). You squat – you free up the pipes, you sit – you pinch them. Let the unicorn show you below…

Of course, I was excited we owned a squatty potty and that we were eliminating paleo style, so I was eager to share with my clients and friends. Many of them purchased one, only to come back and complain that they were uncomfortable getting in the “feet up” or “squat position”.

See, our bodies are shaped by the way we move, and if you haven’t been squatting multiple times a day, your squatting parts may be rusty. Doing some basic biomechanics observations, I found that most of my squatty potty averse clients were the ones with limited ankle dorsiflexion (the ability to flex the foot) and quite limited hip flexion (the ability to bring the knee to your chest). Add general lack of mobility through the spine, and you have a never-squat-to-poop scenario.

Here’s the pickle. The average person, pressed by urgency, won’t even stop to think about why they can’t get comfortable on the squatty potty. We live in a culture which has conditioned us to think like that. Today, people plan to get higher toilets as they get older, assuming their ability to squat will keep decreasing. We have it all backwards.

Want the truth?

  1. You can restore your ability to move at the ankles and hips in order to take a human poop. Your organ health depends on it. How about that for motivation?
  2. In order to restore your ability to squat, you need to first start mobilizing your ankles, hips and pelvis.
  3. In order for those small corrective exercises to work, you need to do them daily. You know, just like water works for you when you drink it daily.
  4. Exercises won’t work unless you also start to change the positions you habitually find yourself in (sitting in chair, sitting on couch, sitting in car).

 
 
Like anything simple, it takes some diligence and time, but every time you practice you will get a degree closer to your squat to poop natural design.

Here is the program that I put my aspiring squatty potty athletes on:

  1. They learn the calf stretch, kneeling hip flexion, and strap stretch to improve the mobility of the ankles, hips and knees. Then they use the baby squat and roll to stabilize the new positions.
  2. They sit on the floor – try the V sit, the indian style sit, the cross knee sit. That allows them to take time off chairs and couches – improving their hip mobility as they rest.
  3. I teach them to bolster the squatty potty. We find a comfortable height that their body is willing to bend to and start to use props to allow their body to adapt. See – between squatty potty and floor there are many levels that most people are already able to bend to. Little by little they are able to move their feet higher and get deeper hip flexion.

 

THE CORRECTIVES

 

THE FLOOR SITTING POSITIONS

 

BOLSTERING THE SQUATTY POTTY

Hooked yet? Start on your program to become a Squatty Potty athlete today 🙂 And let me know how you do!

To get a full introduction to this life changing tool, check out this video:

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Is your stress preventing you from moving well?

Headaches, stiff necks, achy low backs and whiny knees that cry out loud after a hike are common in my office.

People come to see me after months and years of not being able to return to their favorite activities – training hard at the gym, running or competitive golfing. For some reason, exercise hurts, and the activities they can do seem to be less and less.

When new clients fill out their assessment forms, there are specific questions about their perceived levels of stress and quality of sleep.

How your mind and body experience stress will often determine your ability to move forward with your movement program. Stiffness, tension patterns, holding your breath when you move, often have to do more with how you deal with the challenges of past and present life circumstances and events, than whether you did your stretches in the morning.

Trying to learn new movements and integrate an exercise program on top of stress levels that are not being addressed often leads to frustration and giving up on the very programs that will help you return to full function.

In the past two years, I have been training with the Somatic Experiencing Institute and learning how to integrate strategies for nervous system regulation, which help reduce stress levels and promote resiliency and self-awareness. This has become key in how I develop individual programs for my clients.

Next Friday, I am teaching a small group workshop which will introduce the mains skills and tools you need to start with your own program of stress reduction and nervous system balancing. It’s a playful and fun format, with many practical aspects.

I only have a few spots left, so RSVP today!

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“Ships are safe in the harbor…

…but that’s not what ships are built for.”

I woke up to this quote posted by my mentor and friend Katy on the Aligned and Well Facebook page.

Timely, since I was just coming back from a barefoot walk-run and had spent the last minutes of my return home thinking about a new client from this morning. She had expressed how the new positions and ranges of motion we were exploring through some of the standing correctives in her workout felt very challenging and unnatural.

“I just don’t get it. It feels so different than what I am used to!”

I get it. But when was the last time you changed or reached a novel outcome by doing what you’ve always done? Wasn’t that the definition of insanity – doing what you’ve always done, yet expecting a different result.

Your relationship with your body is shaped by a variety of factors, but one of the forces that has a powerful pull is what you believe time with your body should look like. Your preconceived notion of what a corrective program or exercise should resemble has you prepared for an experience when you walk through my door. You’ve seen videos, attended classes, received personal instruction, sometimes from tens of specialists before you set foot on my floor.

You expect to “work”, “stand up straight”, “strengthen” and “stretch”. There is a comfort to knowing what we will do together and a certain degree of wanting to feel challenged but only within what you expect the challenge to feel like – whether it’s burning muscles, feeling pleasantly tired or learning a new exercise.

When I present you with a challenge outside the zone of what you thought “it” would feel or look like, it feels so novel and unnatural, that you may find yourself rebelling against the sensation, the movement, the position, or even my presence as a teacher. Irritation, discomfort, frustration, regret, doubt and even profound anger can be found living under the tissues exposed by new positions and movements.

As a teacher, I am always honored to meet those sensations and emotions of discomfort at your doorstep and support you as they come through and open new possibilities. When working with pain and dysfunction, we often find that our safe harbor is not safe at all, and we need to steer the ship out into open waters, even if they feel choppy at first.

In my own body, I am often a witness of novelty, experienced as weirdness and discomfort, as I venture to recover forgotten ways to move and be with myself. That only assures me that I am leaving the harbor, and isn’t that what we are made for?

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Are bunions genetic? A video from our favorite doc!

Roland and I are working on our new book. In this new half a bible sized health book, there are several chapters on feet, transitioning to healthier shoes and helping your body deal with the effects of modern sedentary life.

Over and over, we address the fact that bunions are not genetic.

A bunion – also known as hallux valgus. This deformity appears as we lose the strength in our foot and the whole limb collapses onto the inside of the ball of the foot with every step you take. Think of it this way, instead of moving back behind you in one straight clean line, the leg rolls in and the mechanical forces of gait slam that poor bone into the ground, where the body eventually ends up building extra tissue to protect the foot and the abnormal joint. Often, a bunion begins with shoes that sport a toe box that’s too tight, a front that is lifted too high or a positive heel, then later continue to be formed and deformed by the forces of gait.

Women often come to me, complaining of bunions. When I ask them about their shoes, they tell me it’s not their shoes, but genetic. “My mom and grandma had bunions, too.”

One lady went so far to say she is from Croatia and all Croatians have calluses and bunions.

Sure, you might have a genetic predisposition to have bunions, but it’s not like going bald, getting grey, or having blue eyes. You have a bunion because your shoes are forcing your feet into a position that creates a bunion, making you walk in a way that creates a bunion and exercise in a way that creates a bunion. If you had the chance to move without the restriction of shoes, experience nature and an appropriate amount of movement, you’d probably never have a bunion. Perhaps your choice of shoes or your gym routine is genetic, too?

With a risk to piss some people off and give others hope, here is a video from our favorite food doc:

Set your feet free – join my newsletter  to get regular updates on workshops coming up!

Ready to read something new AND set your feet free? My teacher and mentor Katy Bowman just released a new book on transitioning to minimal footwear and letting your feet function like Mother Nature intended!

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