Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Confession of an alignerd: I don't fly anymore: a Modern Miracle

Early in my alignment journey, after much studying, memorization, restorative exercising [thank you Nancy], and walking, (and walking!) I made my way to the RE 'holy city' of Ventura, CA, to see and be seen.  There, we would have private sessions with Restorative Exercise heavyweights and take group classes for nearly a week, at the end of which we'd take a test and practice teaching people who volunteered to learn something for which they'd pay nothing, and we'd be observed teaching alignment basics.  We were to be inspected.  Nay: certified.

Now, I've been certified before and found it nerve wracking.  Pilates on all the apparatus.  I worried I wasn't knowledgeable enough and would be found wanting.  Probably waited an extra year before "testing out."  And though the folks conducting the test were perfectly lovely people, I felt as if I were going into battle, and I was, but with my own demons, not anyone assessing my ability.
Of course, I could see that only after I'd passed (whew) but forgot the lesson and felt the same stuff (dang demons) in the private sessions prior to the Restorative Exercise Exam.  Gird your loins.


Bright lights. Big City.  To get this tall, alignment is KEY.


A few weeks prior, I'd taken a trip to my hometown, (NYC) and had the pleasure of staying in a friend's apartment on the lower East side (which is now incredibly hip).

There's a place on Orchard to get individually brewed cups of coffee w/designer beans in seconds.  The tube sucks just the right amount of which ever bean you desire, your cup's brewed, and they all have crema on top!  Man, the lower East Side ain't what it used to be.
(But the pickle guys are still there.  FYI)
The buildings haven't changed much at first blush (until one gets a load of a spacious marble shower stall) from the tenements of the old days and there are many flights of steps to climb.  No sweat.  I'm a fitness professional with a well-toned core and all that goes with that.

Leaving there one evening for a dinner date at another friend's place uptown, I slipped on the worn-down marble steps and flew down about a half a flight of steps and landed pretty hard.  Twisted an ankle and wrenched a knee, so that when I'd decided I was going to continue on to dinner uptown, I had to "monster walk" forward so I didn't have to bend knees or work ankles too much [which I perma-dorsi-flexed]. From the stares, I think I made a convincing monster.

I stayed on 57th Street for two days (ice, elevation, tender loving care of my oldest and dearest friends) and a week or two later, there I was in at my anxiety-producing event in Ventura.  I explained that my knee & ankle weren't doing that well, so I might not be able to make the right moves just then, when heavyweight A informed me that it was because I was basically falling all-the-time, not in control of my descending, that it went the way it had for me.  What???   I did not possess the grace (in the moment) to actually receive his message.  I thought, " You (blankety-blank), you have no idea why I fell down those stairs....#*!!+=(."

Fast forward (I know, not a moment too soon) to me leaving a movie theater earlier today.  I was about to descend a staircase and I think it was because of the interesting carpet replacement color choice I mis-read that the stairs were beginning when I thought I was placing my foot on the landing and it would be my NEXT step which would be the step down.

SURPRISE!  I was releasing my weight onto a foot which did not have anything underneath it to land upon, and I did fall a bit, but as I no longer leverage gravity as I once did, I didn't fall forward.  I was not accelerating.  Easy to recover, I just reached for the bannister.  I was in slow motion anyway, not hurtling anywhere. Shazzam :o)

So even though I did pass my exam at the end of that week, it has taken me another couple of years to realized and validate my fundamental operational transformation:  I'm back to using my own power.  As a matter of habit (because you know I was turning my smartphone back on when I mis-read that step) I hold my weight over my heels now, apparently whether I'm thinking about it or not.

So thank you, Katy and alignment community:  thanks to you, my tissues grow happier daily and I don't fly down staircases anymore, either.  Sweet.

If you'd like to stop flying, call me.  Or  Bodywisdom Studio or read about everything you ever needed to know about alignment here.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sculptors Awaken

Whilst at the recent homecoming training for Restorative Exercise faithful I noticed that for most, sitting, [getting upright atop of their ischial tuberosities] folks need a block or a bolster for it to be easy and I do not.  And in stark contrast to so many in the room, I rate myself an under-achiever.  While many declare daily multiple hour devotion to our exercises, I do very little.  Well, I do walk a couple of miles almost daily and that walk is more and more aligned and posteriorly-driven.  I do teach a few classes too, so I get to demonstrate stuff, and hang a bunch, but I invest precious little time to our corrective exercises.  So it seemed to me I didn't deserve this, I'd done nothing much to earn my great range of motion.

Then it struck me. (I flash back six decades) I grew up in a house headed by a Native American.  It made sense to him that people naturally sit on the floor; (the minivan and lazyboy had not yet been invented) we had almost no furniture.  Made sense to him...  Hey, I didn't have furniture when I was growing up...

So I spent my earliest years sculpting MY body to raise and lower my butt to & from the ground, not from the couch or the barcalounger [how do you spell bark-a-lounger]?.  The operations department in MY head has a huge datafile relating to what people in the yoga classes I attend refer to as crazy flexible hips.  Mine just grew up with the experience of natural movement, and theirs, in the main, did not:  different cultural program working here.

Now, I expect my body to be able to do just about anything I'd like it to.  I have a "why not" attitude founded on my body responding with willingness to try new things because I am constantly aware of its potential, not constantly being reminded of its limitations.  It has ever been so.

I grew up thinking that everyone was just like me (!) and the rest of life has been a series of little ah-ha moments about just how different I am.  We're all unique, right? You can do stuff I can't because of who and how you are. Robustness of pelvic experience from floor-sitting right through formative years gave me a giant 'leg up' on this existence.  Hey, I got my PhD in floor-sitting when I was 7 :o)

I just plunked down so my spouse could take a picture


If you have read earlier posts, you know that I've sustained injuries that limit my knee flexion and those are improving daily, as I re-sculpt myself.  I don't know the number of degrees I've gained.  Becoming pain-free was my happiest milestone passed and the rest is just gravy.  If I live long enough I'll get my ten-year-old knee back. 

If you're a glass half-empty type, you think well, goody for you, missy, I grew up with furniture and am out of luck.  But that wouldn't be exactly true, as you're not dead yet, and expanding your range of motion and re-sculpting is something you can work on continuously throughout every day if you'll pay some attention to your alignment, walk some, hang from your hands some, and squat some. 

Start lowering your butt to the floor a few times a day.  Use a hand to begin with if you need to.  Celebrate your loudness of groan. That's your body saying, where have you been all my life!  And it will be grateful for every single millimeter of more opening, caused by more muscle tissue getting involved as you lower more and fall less.  If you're able to keep this going on even a fairly regular basis, you can become more functional (youthful) not less, over time.  And you're going to be around for a while, right?  You could make a start now.  Well, alright, maybe NOW.  Want help? alignedandwell.com

We're sculptors.  How and how much you move continuously (slump much?) molds and shapes our tissues.  We're sculptors working in the medium of our own human tissue.  How you move your body [or don't] is your tool for fashioning the masterwork.  And you can call a "do-over" any time at all. 

So get up and boogie as it is truly never too late to start and I think I'm almost old enough to be living proof.  Thanks, Pop for the floor sitting ability.  And Mom too, who was into the healthy, whole, healthy food long before it was defined as such by anyone.  (Even if she always did yearn for a comfortable couch)  And you were right Mom, one day I would be glad about having vegetables for snacks.  And it's been pretty much everyday for decades.  Didn't see that coming...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Your body is trying to tell you something. Are you listening?

Movement is better for you than medicine:  If you do a lot of the former you’re a whole lot less likely to require the latter.  Yet we're conditioned to take a pill if we have discomfort instead of receiving it as a message from our operations department that we need to pay attention to something important.  We're taught by those who sell pills and potions that they are the answer.  I still hear the words of my father, offered to me when I was very small - on pain/or when something hurt:  "your body is trying to tell you something.  Are you listening?"  Is anybody listening?

In our affluent society, the more privileged one is, it seems the less one needs to do, for oneself or for others.  Someone else tends, cleans, prepares, fetches, delivers, conveys, trains, all so we have more time to enjoy ourselves.  Or work.  Or workout. Or work late.

If you’re sitting all day at a desk, drive to and from work (or school), even if you exercise for an hour every day, that one hour out of twenty-four won’t make up for the stasis your body must endure the rest of the time.  The human body’s not designed to be inactive but for the time you are asleep.   You’re designed to move around during waking hours (the other 2/3 of your life).

Your heart is a muscle, one of several hundred. It’s designed to move blood around your body and maintain circulatory operations at a minimal level while you’re asleep.  But it only pumps around the big pipes.  If you want to get blood to ALL your tissues, you need to use ALL YOUR OTHER muscles to get blood all the way out to the littlest blood vessels, fill the capillary beds, make your fingers and toes warm, keep your complexion looking fabulous. For this result you need to move everything a bunch.  Which you can probably guess I'm not doing while I'm typing this.....

When you wake up in the morning one of the first things you probably do is stretch.  It feels good.   There’s been little circulation to your muscles because you don’t move very much when asleep (well, some more than others).  Get some circulation going where there’s been none for a while. Have a stretch.  It feels so good, you lean into it and you don't even have to think about it, the operations department simply demands it and you comply without question because you're not really awake yet.  You're so receptive to your body's commands :o) Good times.

Sitting in a chair all day long is no good for you or anyone else.  A sedentary life may be survivable indefinitely, but if you want to feel good, you have got to move your body.  Get some circulation going and keep it going.  All over.

In third world nations where folks have to walk everywhere, hunt, carry water over land for their survival, folks don’t have diabetes, heart disease, pelvic floor disorder, or an avalanche of hip and knee replacements.  When they sit down, they sit on the floor or ground. (Tried that lately?) For toilet functions, squatting is the order of the day.  When’s the last time you squatted for long enough to "take care of business?"

Birds fly, fish swim, snakes slither, humans walk.  Mostly.  We’re versatile :o)  Our feet are unique in the animal world, and we’ve managed to get ourselves to the four corners of the globe (and long before anyone got their learners' permit).  We walk LONG distances.  Swim, too, but not nearly as far and maybe that’s because we'd be likely to become somebody's lunch long before we made land.  We've evolved to walk, to move around from place to place.

And here' s a thought that just came to me:  what if ADHD is simply children being aware that sitting in one place is illness in the making?  What if they’re still in touch enough with their bodies to get the message it’s sending them?  Robust and a variety of movement is the way the body takes care of itself.  Muscles move, circulation results.  Oxygen, food, garbage removal only gets to  tissues when the local muscles are moving.  So instead of giving our young drugs so they’re able to sit without moving for hours on end, maybe we should get a clue:  everyone’s body wants and needs to move a bunch.  

These bodies of ours are remarkable recovery machines.   You tear your skin open shaving, skin your knee, cut your finger, and it will cover the hole and then close it up and then grow a custom replacement cover [that blends in so well you can’t even tell where it was] and it does all this without you having to think about it.  An amazing self-healing machine.  And that’s just a part we can easily observe.  Ever wondered how goosebumps happen? 

The operations department in your body monitors operations 24x7 to keep things ‘just right’ so you can enjoy your life right up until the very moment your time’s up.  99.3% [ok, I made that up] Very nearly all of the cells in your body aren't older than ten.  So there’s really no reason why you couldn’t feel like and do a cartwheel right now.  Right?  Except for maybe your body's been talking and you haven't been listening for quite some time.  If you're reading this the good news is:  it's never too late to get moving.

In this great nation illness is just another profit center and nearing 20% of GDP.   Big Pharma would much rather doctors tell you to take a pill than to take walk.  No one’s going to get rich selling you a movement prescription.  But if you fill that one, you just might never have to go back to the doctor again.

Your body is trying to tell you something.  Are you listening?  Defy gravity.  Stand up straight. Align your body so the operations department gets accurate data and keep everything moving.  Then listening to your body will be a LOT more fun.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Where does life suck in your body

I've been working at improving my personal biomechanics for many years.  Those of you who have been around me for the last couple of decades might know that my left knee started acting up in the early 90s [probably talking to me long before that ] finally locking up in the mid-90s and STILL I managed to ignore it.

Now, no one would call getting rear-ended on the freeway good-fortune, yet in hind sight it most certainly was: it lead me to chiropractor and a physical therapist, neither of which i'd ever seen before in life.  During these encounters I came understand what was going on with some of my muscles and my knee.  Oh yes, and I was introduced to a homeopathic arnica gel concoction [a great thing to know about].

I'd studied pilates earlier in life and after the accident I took it up once again with a vengance.  It worked wonders for me.  My knee started working again.  I told everyone how to fix their physical problems through core conditioning!  I certified.  I taught others so my friends could be left in peace (well, once my student teaching hours were completed).  Skip down the road (well I could almost skip) a decade and while a well-conditioned core is a really good thing to have, I had to study Alignment/Restorative Exercise to get my knee back to a place where I can skip down the road [and I can].  I've been at the alignment thing for a little more than a year.

While I am pretty physical and do a lot of stuff, I am also pretty lazy.  It's precisely because I'm lazy that I love both my alignment practice and core conditioning:  because once you're on board with these concepts, life in general becomes easier and makes it possible to really enjoy all the rest of the time I'm alive in this body.


Life's better when your body works.  Can I get an amen?  No one likes doing the "100s" (well I don't know anyone who does).  And the first time one stretches muscle that's been ignored for longer than overnight, a uniformly pleasant experience it's not :o) In a relatively short period of time (my 500-hr. pilates certification took longer) I have come a long way toward being completely happy in my body and I'm in my sixties.  I'm not perfect and I don't even care how much farther I have to go, I'm so happy.  OK.  I'll shut up already about how happy I am.


Life's been trying lately.  I've lost my Mother recently. Other stuff.  And I realize that I deal with my emotional issues energetically [in my body].  A month ago I walked all the time.  Lately I fit this activity in if I can manage to push this immobilization out of the way.  It's as if I have been possessed by evil spirits who keep me playing sudoku for hours on end (I know, I could be eating ice cream, too).  Calf stretching?  Who has time?  All this to say:  when you find yourself in times of trouble, how do you react?  (as I type this I realize I could be walking instead of typing)

I'm back.  Ordinarily I'd edit this out of a blog BUT THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT of what I'm saying (and maybe just to myself).  We're meant to move. When you're not busy moving around, maintaining the goldilocks length of your muscles, they're tightening up, getting pulled out of alignment, gravity is deforming you, and it's not as much fun to be in one's skin.  (if you had a standing workstation right now you could be aligned and even stretching your calves while reading). And maybe you are but even if you aren't, thanks for reading. :o)  Think about the happiest times of your life, and I'll bet they're when you were doing cool stuff.  It's hard to sit still in enthusiasm.

And so we all go through stuff that bums us out.  I seem like a cool customer (I was raised in NYC where it's good to put on a united front) but when the going gets tough, my digestion slows way down, and my tight places get tighter.  Where are your tight places?  Are you into your 2nd hour gazing into a lighted screen?  Maybe it's time for a stroll.  At the very least, time to stand and stretch.  There.  That feels better, no? 

Life is sweeter when I'm able to be aware and in touch with myself in life's largest terms.  I go for a walk by the water's edge (SF Bay nearby) and I become aware of my place in this present earthly configuration.  Breathing's bigger and easier.  Oh, yes.  Body:  temple of the soul?  The nearer I get to the goldilocks place, the more sense that makes.


So how's your temple today?  Ribcage mobilizing as you breathe?  Calves got that long look and easy feeling?  The goldilocks thing all starts from the soles of your feet and works its way up.   Think I'll take a little walk.   Check the mail and my reciprocal arm swing.  :o) For the time being, I'm using any excuse.

And if you don't know anything about the aforementioned goldilocks thing, alignment, or restorative exercise (but would like to have more fun in your body) there is a bunch of great information available @ alignedandwell.com and a lot of great instruction available @ bodywisdomstudio.net.  Come on over to Point Richmond for a class, or ask me to locate a REx practitioner near you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Think you're doing nothing?

Yeah.  You've read your email.  Checked your FB, your G+, who knows, maybe you tumble and tweet [I don't even know what the last two ARE] maybe you've played a half hour [or more] worth of games online, and NOW you're looking at my blog about alignment.  OK.  I'll try to be quick, so we can all log OUT and go for a walk.

While you're vegging (or perhaps you have a standing workstation for your computer-time which would be SO smart of you) at the computer and think it's only your brain and eyeballs and fingers that are working right now.

Well, surprise! You're always tearing down & building up your body's cells.  So even when you appear to be doing nothing, there's a whole lot of important stuff going on.  Your job (your real job) is to replicate every cell in your body, perfectly.  There are no ancient cells in your body.  You replace them every 7 years.   By the time you were 20 you'd done that successfully several times already.  As you're reading this you've probably done this many more since then.  Many cells are replaced faster, and you're mostly water anyhow (taking a sip, now) so you'll want to keep that supply pure and plentiful, no?

So what do you think?  When you were a kid, you had a lot of fun, learned new things, danced and swam, skipped and climbed (well, maybe you paddled a canoe), what I'm getting to is this:  maybe you have to move around a WHOLE LOT (get lots of blood circulating to ALL your tissues) on a regular basis to get that job done (the re-making of you) perfectly.  You did it just fine as a young person and let's face it, you weren't all that learned then, you just moved around a lot.  So maybe aging could be looked as: cells being replaced by one whose movement/circulation isn't sufficient to get the cells copied perfectly.  Maybe it's not just time on the clock, but how you're behaving as the clock is ticking.

It just may be how and how much you are in the habit of moving (lately; like over the last seven years) that determines how successful your cell re-creation (wouldn't want to call it recreation:  that makes it sound like fun :o) can be.  And even when you're old as me, moving all over can be a pleasure and as simple as going for a walk (& especially if you employ reciprocal arm motion).  Check back for the next installment:  the magic of reciprocal arm motion!!

I've been inching myself [for the last year or so] into better and better alignment.  My muscles are VERY happy to becoming ever-closer to their optimal length.  I'm getting dangerously close to standing up with legs absolutely straight and I'll be darned if I don't feel like playing and dancing and surfing (OK, I don't actually know how to surf) but I feel like I could [well, if the water were warmer hereabouts].

What I keep finding a complicated to say:  the better my alignment is, the more fun I find it to be in my body.  Core strength alone was not enough:  even getting pretty-darned-close to good alignment's made all the difference.  And if I could happen upon this starting my alignment adventure at age 60, imagine how easy it can be for you.

Come see me in at Body Wisdom Studio in Pt. Richmond for a class:  there are many.  Katy's coming soon:  check the A&W website!  I have colleagues around the world, and you can find one near you, here: AlignedandWell.com.  If you live on a mountaintop, there are a line of DVDs, a really good book, Katy's blog, plenty of resources to get you started on the road to feeling so good you'll want to run and jump, too.  Cartwheel.  Surf.  Shuffle off to Buffalo.

Enough.  I'm going for a walk and I'll probably do a cartwheel or two.  I may turn heads.  I'm an actor and I'm used to people watching me, I think I can handle that.  It's the blogging I find challenging!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Falling, Yes, I Am Falling......

Feel a song coming on?  Yeah.  Me too.  Good times :o)

My colleagues and I have put a lot of time and effort into studying how to achieve perfect alignment (because one's muscles think it is SO FUN). We observe ourselves and our clients before mirrors seeing a great many things:  there are so many different ways to hold unnecessary tension in the body and only ONE way to absolutely relax (and I'm not talking about vodka).

Being in natural alignment means you are not having to grip anything much at all:  everything's in it's natural placement and ready for you to make your next move.  And few of us (in affluent cultures) are there or anywhere near where you could see it with field glasses.

So you've read the book (and if you haven't, it's time) click here, you're stretching your calves and everything else that's tight and that's GREAT.  You rock :o)  Looking in the mirror:  weight's in my heels, check. Pelvis, shoulders, and head backed up and all stacked up perfectly.  Yay!  I've finally made it!  Whoo Hoo.  Too bad you're stuck in front of the mirror, cause when you get your shoes on (your minimalist shoes on) and take your act on the road, the tension's back. "I'm back :o)"

Let this be an amusement to you, but all this alignment study and stretching is pointing toward you being able to arrange yourself naturally and move through life that way.  Which may be a whole lot different from being able to arrange yourself successfully before a mirror....

We often hear reports that the old AND feeble complain their balance isn't good and they're afraid they're going to fall down.   I'd like to give them a shout out to validate their awareness of themselves and what's going on in their universe, because they are falling down.  What's different is they don't catch themselves as reliably as they once did.

Everywhere there's gravity, the act of walking [forward] is driven by posterior leg muscles.  (equal and opposite reaction, right?)  The same all over.  In Venice, the gondolier generates force back to move you forward. 
Paddling your own canoe, you push your paddle back to move you forward.  Well, walking is no different.  You stick your straight leg down on the ground and push back to move you forward.  Oh, no, wait.  You don't walk that way:  you kick your foot out in front of you and you fall on it AND your knee's bent when you hit .  Well, it gets us down the road, but at the expense of our delicate tissues.

If you were very clever, you'd stop falling and start locomoting.  For this to happen, you put your pole (leg) down on the ground and "pole back."  This moves all of you ahead where the inactive leg is dangling (ever so briefly) right beneath you.  You receive your body's weight on that straight leg which is at a right angle to the pull of gravity and you repeat the process on the other side.  Neither foot ever gets out in front of you and you are not at any time in the process, falling down.  This is especially because you swing the passive side's arm back to balance you out. (one day soon: link to a little movie right here)

This process depends on none of you getting ahead of any other part of you, which means for 'fallers' [like you]: quit leaning into it, get your weight back over the front of the heels (right where the bony bump on your ankle is-- which is why you want your weight there, btw) and for maximum enjoyment, supporting the body's weight on straight legs.  You think your legs are straight.  They're not.

If you were all aligned and un-grippy (well, BEING aligned means that all of you is un-grippy) you could walk across the Bering Straits, or the Iberian Peninsula, or a really long way (and our ancestors certainly did).  You'd maximize your output as you'd use your body as the designer intended.  You wouldn't dream of hauling composting cow manure in this, would you?




Or pee here:
Of course you wouldn't.  :o)

So now that you know it's un-clever to be falling instead of locomoting (and/or tooling around in your Tesla roadster), it's time to straighten up and fly right (& I don't mean in an air-chaise like in WALL-E).  


There's a long list of tissue damage that occurs when one's falling which doesn't occur when one's locomoting.  I was keenly aware  my knees weren't happy with me anymore as I had been falling-not-walking for six decades.  In the year or so I've been working on walking-not-falling through life I can testify that my body is a whole lot happier with my ever more natural alignment.  It might be an easier trip for you, but even if it's longer and more arduous, the reward will be the same:  a healthy body ready to respond to whatever your next move is....  tap dancing, anyone?
Betcha Ginger did a LOT of calf-stretching in her time....




Monday, June 4, 2012

For Princesses of all ages :o)


a true story

Princess Feet

A good friend introduced me to Katy Bowman's work on biomechanics and body alignment a couple of months ago, and I've found her work to be fascinating and incredibly helpful, not just for my own issues, but as a healthcare provider. Many of her posts on the importance of healthy body alignment and the effects of one part on the entire system compliment my own interest in the importance of  breathing technique and body position in working with issues such as pain, anxiety and decreased oxygenation, especially during recovery and physiological stress.

One of the subjects which Bowman talks about frequently is the importance of walking, squatting and the cascade of problems which positive heeled shoes can cause. I was never a big fan of heels, and have been carefully considering the angle of my shoes ever since. But my fashion sense has always been decidedly...unfashionable. I cannot say the same for Anya, and preschool girls have some very particular ideas about what to wear.

The Princess Years
Yesterday morning, my 4-year old daughter wobbled into the room wearing a princess tutu, a princess tiara and one of the 6 pairs of cheap plastic princess heels she was given for Christmas last year. I had thought she forgot about them when I buried them in the costume box, quarantining them from the real shoes. I have socio-political issues with girls and princess culture. My kids know that I hate princesses, know that I dislike that princesses rarely save themselves in stories, are considered special simply by the circumstances of their birth or because of their beauty. When I explained the problems of a monarchy vs. a democracy, Anya was the first to chime in that the people should decide who the leaders are. And yet. The princess culture in the preschool set is overwhelming, infectious, and all-consuming. The fixation with prettiness is problematic but workable; the conflation of "pretty" and "fancy" with "princess", and "princess" with the requirement of pretty above all else!!!1!- that is the spiral of death by pink for me.

When Anya wobbled in in that outfit, all smiles and pride in how pretty she was, I knew I had to pick my battle; all out War, Mom vs Princess was asking for an epic loss. I told her how beautiful the dress was, how impressed I was that she had created a whole costume for herself, and how beautiful she was when she was pretending to be a princess AND when she was being regular Anya. She asked what I thought of the shoes. I told her that I didn't like high heel shoes because the heels were no good for running and no good for the muscles, bones and the whole body.

She twirled for me a couple of times, then wobbled her way out.

Be free!
A minute later she wobbled back in and said, "Why are my pretty shoes not good for my body?" I know what to do with that kind of soft pitch! I leapt up and showed her where her hamstrings are, showed her how to feel them stretch, pointed out where they attached to the skeleton- we did a great activity using a little movable guy with rubber bands attached to his bones to represent muscles and how they move bone, which I'm just realizing I never blogged about- and she was fascinated. Then we lay down and held up our legs to look at the angle of our feet and how a pointed toe shortened the length of our hamstrings. I talked to her about how walking like that and never stretching them out would make the muscles get tighter and shorter, till it was so bad that our feet couldn't even get into a neutral position without some effort on the part of our muscles. And, by the way, our lesson on simple machines has totally come in handy- the kids now often differentiate between things that take work from our muscles and things that don't!

Next, I did some silly poses to try to show her how the whole body has to compensate for the forward lean of the body standing on heels. Katy Bowman's illustrations are better than my clowning around, but when your audience is 4, a little mama slapstick goes a long way towards remembering a complex lesson!

Anya wobbled back out to the living room, then returned, without the heels and said, in the most woeful voice ever, "But how can I have princess shoes if they are bad for my body?" I took her out to examine her shoe collection and tried to push the hot pink, turquoise glittered light up sneakers as sufficiently fancy for a princess. Anya was not impressed.

Then I had an awesome idea.

Princess Feet

"I think that princess FEET are even cooler than princess shoes, don't you?" She looked doubtfully at her feet. "I can make your feet extra fancy and special!"

I collected up red, pink and purple markers, a washable glue stick, gold glitter, and two colors of nail polish. I painted her nails and drew suns, hearts, flowers and swirls all over the tops of her feet, then rubbed some glue stick over the top and went to town with the glitter. She was beyond thrilled.

We went outside to test out her new princess feet. It turns out that not only are princess feet cool-looking and fun to create, but you can run in them way better than in high heeled princess shoes.

 We also did some careful scientific tests of climbing, playing, skipping and hammock pushing. Princess feet outshone princess high heels in all the categories!