"Move Your DNA" (Book Review)
Several years ago, I was researching the effects of alignment on pregnancy and delivery when I stumbled across Katy Bowman’s blog, Katy Says. I quickly found myself poring over her posts and have been a huge fan ever since. So I will begin this review by saying I am absolutely biased when it comes to Katy’s work.
Katy Bowman is a biomechanist and founder of the Restorative Exercise Institute. Her articles challenged pretty much everything I had been taught about fitness before, during, and after pregnancy, not to mention basic, everyday movements like standing, walking, and putting on shoes. Katy has a fresh perspective on our movement habits that you don’t find anywhere else, and her new book, Move Your DNA, follows in that vein.
I will admit, I was a little afraid to read this book. When you follow someone’s blog, you don’t just do it for the information. One of the things that makes a blog great is the personality behind it. And Katy’s blog is rife with personality. I mean, who else uses photos like this to explain pelvic floor integrity (or lack thereof)?
Read this pumpkin's sad story in Katy's blog post, Tail of Two Pumpkins.
I was relieved to find Katy’s voice in this book, and that’s the biggest reason I will tell you to read it. Move Your DNA has all the humor and personality I love about Katy’s online work. Katy knows how to explain complicated topics in an entertaining way that demonstrates her authority and expresses the deeper and often uncharted currents below the mainstream.
About the Book
Move Your DNA is divided into the following chapters:
Part One: Think
- Chapter One: Nutritious Movement and Diseases of Captivity
- Chapter Two: Movement, Loads, and Your DNA
- Chapter Three: The Difference Between Exercise and Movement
- Chapter Four: The Heart of the Matter: Why We May Not Need “Cardio” After All
Part Two: Move
- Chapter Five: Transitioning Well
- Chapter Six: Your Feet, Sitting and Standing
- Chapter Seven: Mouse Hands to Monkey Arms
- Chapter Eight: It’s Hard to Rest in a Zoo
- Chapter Nine: Walking: The Specifics
- Chapter Ten: Not Your Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandparents’ Pelvis
In Part One, Katy outlines the modern movement challenges we face. She also details some of the finer biomechanical details of why and how we need to move. Katy draws a sharp distinction between exercise and movement, and emphasizes the need to think outside the exercise paradigm and increase the spectrum of movements we do an a day-to-day basis. In her words:
Exercise cannot come close to restoring the tissues already adapted to the way we have been using our habitiat. In the same way supplements should not be the bulk of your diet, exercise should not be the bulk of your movement profile.
Rather, Katy recommends we rethink our idea of movement and consider it as nutritive. Our tendency is to ask, “How much movement do I need?” We want a bare minimum, a daily requirement. Katy’s book shifts the paradigm and asks the question, “How can we move more and move better in order to feel our best?” Part One demonstrates the second question is the one we need to be most concerned with. Your inner geek will be thrilled to learn all about some cool words like mechanotransduction, mechanobiology, and bone robusticity.
The chapters found in Part Two provide detailed explanation about practical application of the bigger movement picture explained in Part One. Katy illustrates movement correctives and provides progressions to perform them at beginner and more advanced levels. Here are some of the stretches and exercises you’ll find:
- Calf Stretch
- Top of the Foot Stretch
- Double Calf Stretch
- Sole-to-Sole Sit
- Rhomboid Push Up
- Floor Angels
- Monkey Bars
- Release for the Abdomen, Jaw, Eyes, Ears, Psoas, and Spine
- Iliacus Release
- Passive Prone Hip Extension
- Quad Stretch
- Pelvic List
- Legs on the Wall
- Number 4 Stretch
- Squat (including several progressions)
Between the helpful illustrations, diagrams, and progressions, you’ll learn how to integrate these correctives into day-to-day life. Katy concludes the book with an entire chapter on the pelvis and squatting, with sensible progressions for beginners and people who have difficulty with squats.
Who Should Read This Book
In the Epilogue, Katy sums up what she hopes this book accomplishes for her readers: to plant seeds for further movement exploration and a renewed assessment of our own presuppositions. Katy says it best:
It is also my hope that you see how you are not so different from the other animals and plants that coexist alonside of you. You are just as complex and adaptable, just as entwined with and affected by your environment, and just as capable of magical transformation.
I would recommend this book to everyone. Whether you’ve been doing the fitness thing for years or are an absolute beginner, you will find seeds of wisdom to help you move more and better. Move Your DNA is a paradigm shifter that acknowledges the complexity of modern movement habits while also providing helpful ways to improve and grow.
"Move Your DNA" is available for $16.64 at Amazon.com.