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Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement Paperback – October 15, 2014
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This informative analysis of natural exercises uses apt analogies to demonstrate how best to build strength.
Exercise is not good for us; movement is, posits biomechanist Katy Bowman in this intriguing look at effective physical fitness. A core premise of Move Your DNA is that today s sedentary lifestyle filled with luxuries designed to help us multitask, outsource work, and enjoy more leisure time sitting in front of computer screens renders an hour in the gym inadequate. Even if you are a great exerciser maybe you bike or jog religiously only the muscles you ve used for that specific exercise garner any benefits. Move Your DNA argues that a physical fitness program should focus on how we move in natural ways.
The book focuses on mechanotransduction, the process by which forces or loads are experienced by cells. Mechanotransduction influences the shape of the human body. All movement and inactivity contributes to what Bowman calls a load profile. Certain exercises strengthen some cells, and if movement is not varied, surrounding cells can weaken. The author suggests walking, as it is a natural movement that helps create the strength needed for carrying the body in a standing position.
Move Your DNA is organized into two informative sections, Think and Move. In the first section, the author, who earned a master s degree in kinesiology at California State University at Northridge, explains the science behind the theory that exercise is insufficient for optimum health and can lead to injury and inactivity. In the Move section, six chapters offer specific, detailed alternatives to traditional exercises, alternatives that promote deliberate, careful, and useful movement for healthfulness and pain reduction, such as walking and squatting. Photos accompany most of the movements, for guidance.
Bowman covers some complicated topics, including physics, biology, kinesiology, and mathematics, but her tone is light, conversational, and often humorous, making learning from her effortless. Skillful use of analogy and metaphor makes complex topics accessible. For example, Bowman explains that loads are akin to the bending and rustling of a tree on a windy day and that inactivity can lead to disease in a way similar to that of a confined orca that develops a floppy fin. Move Your DNAis enjoyable, convincing, and sure to change the way fitness buffs (and coach potatoes) move. --Foreword HEALTH & FITNESS
What happens when you take animals out of their natural surroundings and stick them into offices, cars and confining quarters? Biomechanics scientist Bowman here tackles a wider perspective and approach than exercise and human health, considering how modern humans are not moving in ways nature intended, are instead repeating movements with little true variation, and are suffering from health issues as a result. Her book refutes many popular routines for regaining health as it considers the importance of 'natural movement' that reaches into cellular health levels, linking that to modern lifestyles and why even exercise routines often work against us. From why standing is as bad as sitting to barefoot running's woes, this is a powerful, thought-provoking 'must' for any collection strong in not just health routines, but in health science. --Midwest Book Review
Move Your DNA explains the science behind our need for natural movement - right down to the cellular level. It examines the differences between the movements in a typical hunter - gatherer's life and the movements in our own. It shows the many problems with using exercise like movement vitamins instead of addressing the deeper issue of a poor movement diet. Best of all, Move Your DNA; contains the corrective exercises, habit modifications, and simple lifestyle changes we need to make in order to free ourselves from disease and discover our naturally healthy, reflex driven selves.
Critique: Exceptionally well informed, informative, written, organized and presented, Move Your DNA is especially recommended to the attention of non-specialist general readers who are having to deal with mobility issues -- especially as they grow older. It will also prove to be of immense value for both amateur and professional athletes, as well as concerned parents wanting their children to grow up whole and healthy. Move Your Own DNA is very highly recommended for community and academic library Health & Medicine reference collections. It should be noted that Move Your DNA is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99) and as an audio book download ($17.95). --Midwest Book Review
About the Author
With radical, science-based health directives, Katy Bowman is taking the health-and-wellness world by storm. A biomechanist by training and a problem-solver at heart, Katy has earned an international reputation for educating the general population on alignment and load-science and as a result, helped thousands to reduce pain, increase bone density, improve metabolic health, and solve their pelvic floor mysteries. Katy s scientific achievements and communication skills are earning her legions of followers: her blog, Katy Says, reaches hundreds of thousands of people every month, and thousands have taken her classes. She regularly writes for and is featured as a health expert in publications such as Prevention, IDEA, and Self, and is a popular, entertaining guest on radio and television talk shows and news segments.
Katy is the founder and director of the Restorative Exercise Institute, a large organization and online training program that teaches the biomechanical model of preventative medicine to health professionals and laypeople worldwide. Katy's groundbreaking work in pelvic floor restoration has made the Institute particularly popular with midwives, OBGYNs, and others concerned with pelvic mobility, strength, and health. Her work, including her first book, Every Woman s Guide to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet, has been used by women s health leader Christiane Northrup, translated into Russian (and soon, Dutch), and has generated such overwhelming anecdotal success in reducing labor duration and complication it is being independently researched. She currently lives in Washington State.
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As an Alexander Technique Teacher, I can’t help but cheer at Katy’s thesis that the mechanical forces created from our daily hours of sitting, wearing shoes and staring at screens shape our bodies. Even an admirable daily exercise habit cannot combat the other 23 hours of our day. It’s F.M. Alexander’s thesis: “Use affects function,” reformatted for a modern audience with a scientific and paleo twist. After reading Bowman’s book, you may find yourself squatting to go the potty, running barefoot and sleeping on the floor — or at least throwing away your pillows.
She opens with the dramatic example of “Floppy fin syndrome.” The mechanical forces created when a killer whale swims in the ocean at variable depths, speeds and direction load the fin tissues in ways that stimulate the fin to stiffen and stay upright. Whales in captivity don’t get these natural mechanical loads and the top fin flops. Every modern convenience from heat, to cars, to your fluffy mattress, protects the body from the mechanical loads necessary for health. Our bodies are the whale’s floppy fin.
Bowman does not shy away from strong analogies like “casting.” The adaptations our bodies make when we have to wear a cast, such as muscle wasting, stiffening and bone loss occur in response to our environmental “casts” of smooth sidewalks, chairs, and even indoor time. From our eyes to our feet, our tissues conform to the limitations of our daily positions.
Bowman has a firm handle on the reality that our bodies function as a whole, and the added benefit of a scientists perspective on the effects of force on tissue development. I can’t help cheering when she states that the invocation to tighten your tummy to protect your low-back is hopelessly outdated. And her assertion that the endless regimen of crunches (that occur even in some of my favorite yoga classes) may have limited value and may even damage the spine.
The book is less wonderful as an exercise manual. It’s poorly organized and hard to search. This problem may be worse in the Kindle version, where the index lacks hyperlinks and location references. The illustrative photographs are often pages away from the text instructions. If it was hard for me, as a movement specialist, to decipher all of her exercises, I’m imagining it would be quite frustrating for a lay person.
Although the book is not intended as a technical study in bio-mechanical sciences, I would have appreciated a little bit more evidence. For example, she devotes a large section to her thesis that Kegel exercises (isolated contractions of the pelvic floor muscles) may cause more harm then good. I completely agree that Kegels do not address the overall use patterns of the pelvis and torso, and ideally, it’s best to let those muscles function automatically. However she does not present evidence that her approach works better. Although something seems intuitively true, it may not be.
There’s no way that such a small book can be comprehensive, and I believe bowman’s attempt is not to get us to adopt a fully paleo lifestyle, but to rethink our current one. By bettering our daily movement habits, we have a better quality of life.