This is a book review of ‘Alignment Matters’ by Katy Bowman. It’s a jolly good book which you should totally buy and read. But first…
…Please allow me to give a little insight into my own study as ‘Pre/Postpartum Exercise Specialist’ and how my teaching changed when I discovered quite how much Alignment, really does, Matter. It’s relevant, honest.
Science, knowledge and new study move determinedly on thanks to progressive experts such as Katy, and only by the continuous study of their work and self-improvement can we keep giving our best. I know I’m a better teacher because I’ve learnt from some great ones :)
I remember buying my first course from Katy Bowman’s Nutritious Movement [formerly Aligned and Well] site a good few years ago, starting to listen and then getting that *lightbulb* thing. It was a missing link in so much I’d been taught in over a decade of pre/postpartum fitness training study. You see when I first qualified as a Personal Trainer back in 2001, they taught us some very cool stuff, but they also taught us (to teach others) to tuck your tailbone, flatten your back, soften your knees… and how important it was to wear scientifically air-cushioned, made by NASA-Esque running shoes to support our feet which obviously couldn’t possibly actually walk or run without help.
Collaborating with pre/postpartum Yogini Uma Dinsmore-Tuli nearly 10 years ago on developing the MUTU Breathe elements of my program, she was the first to free my body from the enforced straight back, tucked pelvis thing. ‘Women have curves. We’re not meant to tuck them away’. And my hamstrings breathed a sigh of relief as she gently lifted my pelvis back to where it’s supposed to be. I wondered why these cues were still being taught when they felt so wrong, and then I studied some more, and decided to stop teaching them. Soon after, I discovered Ms Bowman and got the science and understanding I had been searching for, to back up what felt instinctively right.
I’ve studied* many hours of Katy’s work since and continue to be enlightened by her straight-talking, just-because-it-always-been-taught-that-way-doesn’t-mean-its-right science.
So what’s the book about? Well its the first 5 years of Katy’s Blog, in a book. And if you’ve ever lost whole hours of your day getting fascinatingly lost in Katy’s Blog, you’ll know why this was a good idea. Katy Bowman is a Biomechanist – which means she approaches bodies as a proper scientist. The mechanics, the physics of our bodies and why they do what they do. How we can move them and hold them in a way that makes them better at what they do. The aches and pains, the niggles, the weaknesses we put up with, or accept as signs of ageing, genetics or a natural consequence of childbirth or mothering, Katy explains how they’re not. And how you can change them.
The book starts out talking about your feet, your shoes and everything you stack onto them. Your knees, hips, back, pelvic floor and core… and everything you stack onto them. (It’s no wonder it’s aching when it ain’t stacked right…). We start to understand our bodies as not only wonders of creation and reproduction but also as masterful feats of mechanics and function.. if only we’d allow them to be.
You learn about the science, as well as the logistics and practicalities of barefoot walking, of natural movement and how the way you move affects everything from your shoulders to the shape of your tummy to the function of your pelvic floor. Your weak wrists, the pain in your hip, the knee that ‘just always hurts’, the tense neck, the diastasis recti, weak pelvic floor or pouchy tummy… it’s all here with instructions on how to fix it. And it’s all about the way you move.
Please note that you really don’t need to be an exercise practitioner or health professional of any description to read this book! It’s very accessible for anyone who wants to know more about their own human machine.
Alignment Matters is incredibly informative. It’s fascinating. And it’s very funny. Biomechanics is funny, or it is in this book anyway. So you lot, go buy it! And thank you Katy, for sending me a copy of your awesome book to review – it made my toes wiggle.