This week we have the pleasure of hearing from Kelly Starrett. In his own words:
“Kelly Starrett is a coach, physical therapist, author, speaker, and creator of this blog, which has revolutionized how athletes think about human movement and athletic performance.
His blog was voted #4 in Outside Magazine’s Top 10 Fitness Blogs of 2011, Breaking Muscle’s Top 10 Fitness Blogs of 2011, and Health Line’s Top 100 Health Blogs of 2011. Kelly and his work have been featured in Tim Ferris’ Four Hour Body, Competitor Magazine, Inside Triathlon, Outside Magazine, Details Magazine, Power Magazine, and the Crossfit Journal. He teaches the wildly popular Crossfit Movement & Mobility Trainer course and has been a guest lecturer at the American Physical Therapy Association annual convention, Google, the Perform Better Summit, the Special Operations Medial Association annual conference, police departments, and elite military groups nationwide.
Coach Kelly Starrett received his Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2007 from Samuel Merritt College in Oakland, California. Before starting his own physical therapy practice at San Francisco CrosSFit, one of the first 50 CrossFit affiliates, he practiced performance-based physical therapy at the world-renowned Stone Clinic. In his current practice, Kelly continues to focus on performance-based Orthopedic Sports Medicine with an emphasis on returning athletes to elite level sport and performance.
Kelly’s clients have included Olympic gold-medalists, Tour de France cyclists, world and national record holding Olympic Lifting and Power athletes, Crossfit Games medalists, ballet dancers, military personnel, and competitive age-division athletes.
Kelly’s background as an athlete and coach includes paddling whitewater slalom canoe on the US Canoe and Kayak Teams, and leading the Men’s Whitewater Rafting Team to two national titles and competition in two World Championships. In his free time Kelly enjoys spending time with his wife Juliet and two daughters, Georgia and Caroline, surfing, paddling, Olympic lifting, hot-tubbing, and so-you-think-you-can-dancing.”
The Slim Is Simple.org Non-Profit Nutrition Education Effort
Jonathan: Hey, everyone! Jonathan Bailor back with another bonus, Smarter Science of Slim Podcast. Truly a treat for you today, friends. We’ve all heard of CrossFit. Literally this guy, our guest was… maybe founder is a wrong word but he was in there on the ground floor. In a lot of ways I think when we talk to him today, we are going to see that some of the things you might think about CrossFit are the exact opposite when you have a doctor of physical therapy involved in CrossFit. That’s who we have today.
He is a doctor of physical therapy. He is all over the internet all over the world. Working with top athletes, on the Joe Rogan Show, in the media, writing books. His new book is called the Becoming a Supple Leopard. He is the founder of the profoundly popular website MobilityWOD.com. He is none other than Dr. Kelly… excuse me, Starrett. Welcome, Kelly. How you doing?
Kelly: Thanks so much. I am great, man. Thanks for your time.
Jonathan: I got so excited there at the beginning. I couldn’t even say your name. I am so excited.
Kelly: Well, it happens all the time. I am not going to lie. That’s why we have created an avatar K Star. That’s all I need to know.
Jonathan: Can I call you K Star for the rest of the interview?
Kelly: Yeah, absolutely.
Jonathan: Well, Kelly, I am actually not going to call you K Star. Could you give a quick a bit of background to the audience about your story because you have a quite a long and storied story. Tell us about it.
Kelly: Well, sure. We are here today because recently I worked on this project about trying to tie in a lifetime of experiences as an athlete, my clinical doctorate as a physical therapy, my time as a coach. I own San Francisco CrossFit with my wife. We estimate we’ve done 80,000 athlete sessions at our gym since we started. What was happening was that we were having these conversations about performance, mechanics, injure prevention from children up to Olympians to elite military forces. It was the same conversation.
I, like so many people, I was a product of this system in which I grew up. I ate the way I ate. It was high carb, low fat. Then, I trained a certain way. I just did everything else everyone could do. Suddenly, I found myself in the middle of the revolution. A revolution in the way we think about nutrition and performance. A revolution in really this open source model of explaining the way that the best athletes in the world will train. Suddenly I had access to some of the best thinkers on the planet about movement mechanics. Out of that nexus, I realize that maybe there were some really easy slack we can take out of the system.
That’s, really, I think why we ended up here today, was that, couple years ago in our third year of Mobility WOD, I was seeing this same sets of problems in my clinical therapy practice. I was working with athletes. I was coaching moms and dads, I was doing all things I do. Then all of a sudden, I came home one day and I was telling my wife, I was like, “Man, how is it I’m having the same conversation about bad spinal mechanics or lost pelvic position or unstable shoulder positioning, overhead from my swimmers and these elite two different… how come this is happening? How come we don’t know this? Why is it none of these people know what to do about their pain or know how to spot their pain and dysfunction before it becomes pain dysfunction, right?”
We started an odyssey, where I was like… I had this terrible idea. I am going to make a video a day for a year. I am going to put everything I know out into the world for free on a blog. I ended up telling one person about it and two million unique users later and tens of millions of episodes viewed and books. It really ended up being that people are so much smarter than we give them credit for, especially in the medical community and especially with this coaches. I really think that people working at the limits of their understanding and when we are in this new epoch of kind of open source model test, retest, share. What we are seeing is that if we give people better tools, they will make better decisions.
One video at a time. Now, we are into like six hundred videos. All the other contents I’ve been lecturing about this for half a decade. What we are seeing is we’ve been able to really solve some critical problems. If we just look at the numbers, for example. Back pain I think in America is a $100 billion problem. It’s amazing. In America alone, there are half a million spinal surgeries every year with dubious outcome. It’s not their pain isn’t real. In the army alone, a million non-combat related orthopedic injuries every year. One million. That’s not IEDs. That’s not gunshot wound. That’s knee pain, Achilles pain, back pain, right?
We look at ACL injuries rates in kids up 400% in kids under 12. Four hundred percent for ACL tears. What we are seeing is that with all of this technology and all of this [indiscernible 05:38] monitor, we are still making fundamental type one errors. What we were assuming was we could work harder and we can eat better but we also needed to move better. What we are finding because we have all these different groups finally talking… I’ll tell you, CrossFit really created a model for me where suddenly I was forced to go out and seek the best power lifters in the world that I was exposed to them. Then all of a sudden, I was hanging out with some of the best Olympic lifting coaches in the world. By the way, you also have to response for all your body weight control stuff. That means I needed to understand gymnastics. Then, Brian MacKenzie’s brilliant running coach and I had to be responsible for all those aspects.
When I started being exposed to these different skills, what it meant to be human, I started to sort of distill down. There are some basic archetypal shape. There are some conditions that make us what we are. To the extent that we either are skilled or not skilled. We can either express all the things that a human being should be able to do or not, it became very black and white to me. “Well, of course, you have shoulder pain. You don’t have full range motion in your shoulders and can’t express that full range of motion because we don’t have the skill or the bio mechanics to do it.”
We started pulling out those underlying messages. We found is that, suddenly, if you did yoga then you understood what the stable shoulder was overhead by pressing the palms together. Doesn’t align the chakras. What a bunch of crap. It makes the shoulder stable. The same shoulder stable position that we talked about in Olympic lifting or swimming. Suddenly, we had this master key that allowed us to start to understand what was going on in all of these movement disciplines. It’s not that we are the first people ever take a crack at it. On the contrary, people have been trying to solve the problems of the human condition for as long as there have been humans.
Here we are and now we have all this technology. Suddenly, we can connect the dots. We have some innovation – ways of thinking about the body. Lo and behold, I think if we don’t get it right this time, we are doomed. What we try to do is create a Betty Crocker cookbook for movement; a Betty Crocker cookbook for resolving knee pain. Think about it this way, if your oil light goes on your car, do you race it over and pay to the diagnostics? No way. You just add oil to the car, right? You know what to do.
We haven’t been empowered to have that fundamental understanding of how are bodies work. It’s our right to be able to form basic meanings on our self. Like you should be able to do that. That’s what it means to be human. You should be able to spot what is a good position and a bad position. It’s not about exercise. It’s about becoming a skilled human being. Now, we are getting there.
Jonathan: Kelly, when you say being a skilled human being, I know some folks who might visit your website, they see it. You were working with elite individuals. You’re known for your relationship and status in the CrossFit community. If I am an older person or just someone who is a little bit more sedentary, what can I learn from you? What can I apply today to do to get rid of that shoulder pain, that back pain, that knee pain?
Kelly: Well, a couple of things. One is that we say your combat stance is your everyday stance. What I mean by that was 350 years ago, there’s this Japanese swordsman named Musashi who wrote the Book of the Five Rings. He said that 350 years ago. Really the issue is that your athletic self, your expression of physically self is the same person you are through the day. One of the reasons we exercise is not just to protect our hearts and make our lungs function better, but it’s to reinforce the patterning and mechanics of the human.
If I take this Formula One athlete, I take this person who is at the best in the world, basically, I can distill down the fact that, “Hey, here’s the world record in the deadlift.” Right? Which is like a 1,024 lbs. It turns out it’s the same mechanic that if I need to reach into crib and pull up my baby and not trash on my back, it’s the same thing. Look, one of our ideas is that you have to come out unharmed at one rep, at one repetition or at a million repetitions. You are designed to be a 110 years old and to be pain free for 110 years old. What we are seeing is that a lot of the problems that we are having because we move poorly through the day.
For example, here is a simple idea. I talk about this a lot. If you are standing, your feet should be underneath, basically, your hips and your feet should be pointed straight. If your feet aren’t pointed straight when you are standing, you are in a bad position. That’s a bad mechanical position that puts you in a collapsed arch position that challenges the plantar fascia, the bum in your foot. That’s the bum in the foot pain, that puts you Achilles in the bad mechanic. That opens up your knee and starts to be the one of the genesis’ of knee pain and knee cap pain. It leads you to being in a bad position for your hip as soon as you take a step. It’s the same position where we see people tear their ACLs.
It’s a disastrous position and even causes bunions. Yet, we don’t even recognize that that’s a harmful position because it doesn’t matter when I walk like that times tens of thousands of millions of reps. Look, we tell people, “Look, if you are going to be an active person, we ask you to take ten thousand steps a day.” That’s a number everyone is pretty familiar with. “Oh, yeah, just take ten thousand steps a day.” Well, that’s ten thousand steps of your foot being in the bad position of your arch collapsing, of your destroying your feet. What I want people to understand is that what we learn is you can’t run with that foot turned out position. You can’t cut or lift weights or jump. What we learn is from the principles of expression of the pith expressions of human movement, we can scale backwards into the principles that work for us.
Are you moving correctly? It’s very simple. Also, you should have a template for being able to solve the problems. The reason you are getting stiff is that maybe you don’t drink enough water. You don’t sleep right. You don’t sleep enough. You are eating horribly inflammatory diet, right? We have that. You guys address that ad infinitum. The other components of that recipe is the movement and we need to figure out is it that you just don’t know what to do. This is why we do training. There are movements based practices like Tai Chi.
Tai Chi isn’t just about energy and flow. It’s about specific language of being very connected and moving to these very stable positions. Pilates, yoga, these are formal languages of movement – formal training. It doesn’t matter what you are doing but are you practicing? Can we scale those higher functions sports back down into the daily practices? When we start to understand that one, I correct the movement and, two, once I correct the movement a lot, the problems go away in the first place. Are we getting echo? Are you there?
Jonathan: Yup. Yup.
Kelly: Then, I also need a template to be able to resolve some of the dysfunction when I do get stiff. Sometimes, it’s not just an active will. Sometimes, it’s an issue of “Hey, your Achilles is really stiff. Your quads are stiff.” This an example. This has been in the literature forever. It’s called theater sign. When people sit down, they start to get knee pain right there. I’m sure 10% of the people listening to this will, “Oh, that happens to me when I sit down, my knees ache.” What’s happening there is that when you sit down, one of the ways that you manage and hold yourself upright, because sitting is ungodly, in the worst sense, is that it puts a lot of tension into one of the quadriceps’ heads on your leg called the Rectus Femoris.
That Rectus Femoris attaches from your knee cap up into your pelvis. What your body is doing is using that rectus femoris to keep your pelvis upright. It’s keeping your back straight up and down so you don’t fall over. As soon as you tension that very simple mechanical system, it ends up tugging on your knee cap. It feels tissues are tight. Overtime, you can start to develop really, really uncomfortable knee. Guess what? It’s easy to fix. What you need to do is create some space. Open up. Those tissues are stiff. By creating blood flow and creating movements between those layers because your body is basically a very simple mechanical system. It’s so complex. It’s like the iPad, right? You don’t need to understand what the technology is – about how the touchscreen works or how to turn it on or off.
All you need to know is, I swipe it. I can run the apps. I can read. That’s all you need to know. You don’t need to know how the battery functions or any of that stuff. That’s voodoo science. That’s how your body is. When we start empowering people to give them the basic template for how they move and how they work, then suddenly it’s really reductive. It’s so easy to solve these problems yourself. What we are saying is that, “Boy, we might be able to unburden the health care system of a lot of knee pain, a lot of knee surgeries, a lot of arthritis problems.”
Again, our hypothesis is if you have right lifestyle that means you are eating correctly, trying to manage your stress, drinking enough water and sleeping and you move correctly, you are going to be probably pain free. You are going to look good naked. You are going to feel great. You’re going to accomplish more. You are going to able to play with your grandkids. You might win a world record and a gold medal. It’s the same conversation. That’s what so great about it.
Jonathan: You will be a supple leopard.
Kelly: Become a supple leopard. Here is the title. People were like, “What is that title about?” Well, the title is a leopard can attack and defend at full physical capacity, instantaneous. Has its full leopard nature. You never see the leopard warm up. It doesn’t have to activate its gluteus. It could just go, right? It doesn’t say, “I have to bring my core temperature up.” It’s a leopard. It can go.
If you watch kids at recess, do they stretch out and do their dynamic warm up? No. They instantaneously can go full speed. Are those kids injured or broken? Nope. It’s that their tissues can handle that. They have full range of motion in their mechanics. They have all this capacity.
I know you are saying it, “I am stiff. I could never do that.” That’s correct. [Inaudible 0:16:32] We know it takes two years to turn your [indiscernible 16:34] over. If you have full range of motion in your joints and that’s easy to see because, why? Well, you should be able to do all of the things that are involved in a formal language of human movement which is what we call Modern Strength and Conditioning. That’s what is so cool.
What people don’t understand about CrossFit, for example, is that I am saying that you are skilled human, when you can express full range of motion in your ankles, which is the bottom position of a pistol, for example. I don’t care if you can do a pistol but I care that if you get into bottom shape of the pistol. Right?
Hanging from a pull-up bar is the expression of full range of motion in your shoulders so as pressing some dumbbells over your head. What ends up happening is that the language of training is really the formal language of movement. It’s not an accident that I have this template of movements. They are really just expressions of everything that a human should do and be able to do, right? For example, if you are listening, “What’s a pistol?” It’s a single leg squat, but you can do two legged pistol. Can you squat with your feet together and go all the way to the ground without your heel coming up off the ground.
No big deal. Just squat down like you are at a campfire in the woods or you are having dinner with a family in Thailand. You should be able to squat all the way down with your feet together. Guess what? Probably, half the audience or three quarters audience can’t do that. That tells me you are missing hip range of motion, your quads are tight and you are missing ankle range of motion. That is why you are going to tear your ACL and hernia your disk in your back and cause a little knee cap rubbing and tear of meniscus. It’s all preventable.
Jonathan: Kelly, so what do we do? Certainly, how we move and the quality of our movement is your messages and is a message that rings true. However, we are often just told and often to the individuals who may need to work on the quality of their movement the most. For example, if I am 400 pound individual and I just listen to the mainstream, “Just go do something. Just go move. I don’t care what it is,” a bit like guidance. “Go in the medicine cabinet and take a pill. I don’t care what it is. Just take something. Just move.” What do you think about that kind of guidance, especially to people who may not be used to moving in the first place?
Kelly: Here is the deal. It’s all scalable. Through the CrossFit, this is what we teach. Let me give you an example. There is a great couplet. It means two exercises put together, that was popularized weight by a Russian hammer thrower. Right? His name is [indiscernible 19:11]. He is one of the top three throwers of all time. On Mondays, he would front squat 200 kilos, that’s 440 pounds. He would front squat keeping the bar in front of him, he would front squat that for seven reps. He’d run 400 meters. He’d run a quarter mile. Front squat heavy. Run a quarter mile. That is so hard. I only know a couple of people who can front squat 200 kilos a couple times. Does that make sense? That’s how unbelievable it is. He would do that multiple times.
Now, let me take that back into the average person world like myself. There is a physical therapy assessment called the timed up and go. We use it to asses falling risk in patients. You stand up out of a chair. Walk three meters. You turn around and sit back in the chair. That’s performing one squat and walking six meters. That’s the same thing as front squatting 200 for seven and running 400 meters. The key is that why is it we have to take the skill out of being a human being.
And no wonder we all resent feeling like we are just rats turning a wheel. Yes, it’s important. You should absolutely have a physical practice to maintain the carriage. That’s what you have to do. I don’t care what that practice looks like. At some point, we can have to add some skill to that. We are going to have to teach you. Because check this out, people like “I can’t relate to squatting.” Well, you probably squat 200 times a day. You squatted to the toilet four times a day, if you are normal.
You got in and out of the chair on the dining table at least three times in the last ten minutes. How many times did you get up and down on work? In and out of your car right for meetings? If you start looking at that, it aggregates into a serious number of squats. Right? Did you pick up something off the floor today? That’s a deadlift.
What I am asking you to do is go ahead and take the huge leap into, let’s not only ask you, “Are you doing yes or no?” Let’s make that about being skilled. At some point, sure, we have to have a conversation about body composition. You know why? Because I had it with every single one of my athletes, every single one of my kids. My kids understand what is good food and what is bad food, why aren’t we skilled in that. Right?
When we look at just applying that principle, if you ask my four year old, how to stand, she’s like “You stand with your feet right.” What I have done is built that in. If you are going to walk, walk with your feet straight. That’s your physical practice, great. We might as well also teach you to squat appropriately and make sure you have the good mechanics squatting. That is a skilled movement. Who taught you to sit? Who taught you to squat? Who taught you to lunge? Who taught you to pick something off the ground? The answer is no one. What we have been doing is figuring it out. Some of us are very good at figuring out. Some of us end up spending our genetics.
Then, after a millionth rep, I, literally,… remember I am a physical therapist I had this conversation. “What happened to your back?” “I don’t know. I just reached over for the pillow and it popped” I’m like, “Well, that must have been a heavy pillow. What was going on?” Well, it turns out that person had no consideration about their spinal mechanics. They didn’t understand. “Hey, I should be bracing. I should know what my abs do and how to create a stable platform. I know how to hip hinge down and pick up a pillow.” Think about this. Your kids can’t really graduate second grade until they can read, right? Or perform basic arithmetic. Yet, do we let kids go into the second grade without knowing how to pick something above of the ground. Yes.
I just volunteered at my daughter’s field day at her school. I have another daughter who is eight. My wife and I ran the sack race. One of the things that we noticed is that the sack race was that lot of those kids couldn’t even get into the sack. This is elementary school, the fifth grade. Half the kids couldn’t hop very well in the sack. That sounded terrible. A lot of the kids couldn’t even jump while in the sack. Then, for the third, fourth and fifth graders, I made them do a summersault halfway through. Just had to do a forward summersault. That’s called a forward roll. That’s how you fall safely. Guess what? A full 75% of the kids couldn’t perform a single forward summersault. That’s what I’m saying is that we have sort of taken the skill out of what it means to be a human being. We need to put that skill back in.
It’s okay as a side effect of teaching skills, we become fit. It’s okay as a side effect of teaching skills, we become strong. The real issue is, “Are you skilled? Yes or no.” As a physical therapist, I have to help resolve people’s tissue dysfunction but the reason your knee hurts is that your quads are very tight. The tissues above your knees are very tight and you move like crap. What’s your choice? Well, I can help you resolve that knee pain by rolling out your quads and making sure you joint works right but at some points also you also need to learn how to move correctly. That’s easy to do because you are wired to do this.
In some of my seminars I had to show a video of one of my daughter’s at 11 months old, squatting. Right. She is 11 months. She can’t walk. She can’t talk yet. Her feet are very straight when she squats. She squeezes her butt before she goes down. She loads her hips and hamstrings. I mean she sits back when she is sitting in a chair. Her shins are very straight up and down. She has lot of knee force first. Then, when she squats back up, her back is flat. She makes her shins vertical and then, she stands up. It’s the perfect mechanical squat. In fact, it’s the squat that looks exactly like the world record squat does. My point is that imagine that your body has all of this innate wiring. It’s like if someone ran the conduits a long time ago but we, it’s our job as adults and as humans to pull the wires to the conduits and reinforce those patterns.
Jonathan: Kelly, when you say reinforce those patterns, I need a key distinction. Because I can imagine some of the listeners are saying, “Okay, it’s already enough that I have to exercise and stay moving. I am super, super busy.” When folks get familiar with your work, doing this and being conscious, it’s not as if for the rest of your life, you are going to have to consciously think and have a checklist before you move your body at all. It’s more like you get into the habit. You deepen these neurological pathway. Then, it’s just second nature.
Kelly: That’s the point of all of this practice. Right? It becomes automatic. This is the practice. This to the point of why I am even on your show, is that, we are seeing the integration of all these fields in a really extraordinary way. I use this example sometimes. Daniel Coyle wrote the book Talent Code. We know it from the neuroscience now that skill acquisition is actually a biological phenomenon where a neuron pathway starts to wire and the Schwann cells in your brain are like, “Oh, look there’s neurons. They’re firing a lot.” They go over and they myelinate, they create that kind of cabling around the cable—around the neurons—and that pathway gets reinforced. It’s literally skill acquisition is the biological process where something wet happens in your brain to reinforce that pattern.
That’s why teaching good habits. We say practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. One of the easiest ways to start to changes is if you look at even at the advance phases of motor learning, we kind of get into that. It’s very cognitive upfront. I am learning a new skill. When was the last time you learned a new skill or a new sport? You had to struggle at it. You were really conscious. You felt like a beginner. Then all of a sudden, you start to get integrated. Then, you did it automatically and that’s how your body works. Pretty soon, because we practice every single day, and I get to bury all this practice into my life, right. I get to walk with my feet straight. Why? Because I am going to choose to walk with my feet straight. Then, pretty soon I just walk with my feet straight.
I can catch myself. I can mind myself but remember, the yogis had a daily practice. Even, the Buddha said, “You probably need to meditate every day.” Jesus was, “You probably should pray every day.” What we are seeing is that we probably need a little maintenance and that maintenance comes also in a package of 20-30 minutes of exercise every day. Noon time and my training time.
Jonathan: Kelly, what I really like about your message, what you are doing with Supple Leopard and is… we got to pop back a level here. Seems like so many of us and it’s so easy to do this because this is what the media tells us. We are focused on “What’s this pill? What’s this gimmick? What’s this…?” Just even… I am not even saying like from a gimmicky prospective but more from just a small… this small tiny thing you could do.
No, let’s take a step back. Do you know how to walk properly? Have you ever thought about that? Who needs this miraculous anti-inflammatory pill if the ten thousand steps you are taking per day, to your point, are all doing some level of damage to your body? Let’s stop focusing on these micro things and are we moving correctly?
Kelly: How about this? Pain is what we call a lagging indicator. In engineering, we have a series of lagging indicators. It means something tells me about something after the fact. Well, pain is a serious lagging indicator. It’s one of the ways that my body lets me know I am in a bad position. So guess what that the pain is? It’s telling me I have a mechanical problem. That’s like waiting until your engine exploded light goes on before you could do anything about it. That’s really the issue. What I really think of and what we kind of driven from our clinical practice, is you need 10 or 15 minutes a day of doing some basic tissue maintenance on your body.
You can go to my friends’ website, Jill Miller, at yogatuneup.com. She has a very holistic, softer approach. She is a much softer ball, really mile [indiscernible 29:30]. It’s a lot softer. It’s very serious and very lot softer. You go to my website where something like “Well, that guy’s taking a barbell to his hamstring.” Right? Because it turns out my population is a little bit more aggressive intervention. The issue is, are you correcting the moving mechanical problems and the errors you are making for 10 or 15 minutes a day, because that’s just what it requires. I think that you are clever enough to be able to really solve these things yourself, at least take a serious dent at it. You can’t see me as patient until you’ve really tried to exhaust the problem yourself.
I’ll tell you my father is a physician. My grandfather is a physician. We need to unburden our physicians of our crappy stuff. You go in and see your doctor and she’s like, “The reason you have knee pain is you have worn a hole in your knee cap.” She’s like, “Maybe, you should stop running.” You’re like, “What? I am not stopping running. You can’t control me. You are the worst doctor ever.” What the doctor saying is so reasonable. “Hey, look you are moving like a clown. You’ve worn a hole in a bone. That’s designed to be 110 years old. Whatever you are doing is not working. This is a doctor’s office. Do you think I am going to watch you squat and walk in this doctor’s office? No.” We should be doing is taking all this really simple muscular scalable complaints out of the hands of our doctors.
You use your physician when you get into a car accident or have a bad fall or catastrophe or something pathological happens to you. You are having back pain and you are taking a crack it and when you go in and you find out, “Oh, I have kidney infection.” Right, but you shouldn’t be clearing this off. “Oh, you have back pain? Let me show you the thing that my grandma showed me for my back.” What’s happened to us? We completely lost ourselves.
For example, one of friends sent me an instant link on the Mercola website the other day. Right. He’s talking about just walking barefoot and its potential impacts on you, on your nervous system and even on your immune system because you are exposing yourself to the ground. I was laughing to some friends. I’m like, “How often do you think people really barefoot in the world?” It probably is in a function of minutes. They go minutes without doing the whole day when they are home. Otherwise, they are not barefoot. You start to extrapolate that out, you’ll see that, “Are your shoes flat? Yes or no.” What you’ll see is that most shoes, for example, have at the very least, three to five millimeters of differential from the hill to the toe. Some of the shoes we wear and the high heel shoes can be three, four, five centimeters of differential. What happens when you take a stick and you tip it forward ten degrees? The head of that stick moves six centimeters. It moves until the whole thing tilts forward.
What if I take your child and I tip your child’s center of mass forward. What do you think is going to happen? Will the child just going to start running and falling? Or they are going to compensate? Then, guess what, you basically have engaged yourself in ancient Chinese foot binding. You are shortening your heel cord. You are shortening the plantar fascia. Then, you wonder what happens and why you are having foot pain and knee pain and back pain. Well, guess what? You are born with your feet to be flat on the ground. There is no doubt about that. The shoe I want you in all the time is a flat shoe. Then, we can give you some breathing room when you are running with a little bit of a heel.
We can put your Olympic lifting shoe. Give you some cushions so you don’t bruise a bum in your feet, but are your shoes flat? Yes or no. If you are not running around in a flat shoes… like my wife sometimes says, “Hey I am going to look cute. You can’t even stop me.” I’m like, “That’s fine.” Then, she’s “God my feet are killing me.” I’m, “Well, that’s really funny. Isn’t that interesting that you wreck and basically disobey the laws of your body and you get some immediate feedback about your bio mechanics.” “My feet hurt.” What should you do? Obviously, take some ibuprofen. Obviously, keep wearing the shoes.
Jonathan: Well, Kelly, this is… I love that you said laws of your body because I think what can benefit all of our listeners from your new book A Supple Leopard is. just like we talk about, your biology is not a matter of opinions so why are we debating these things. Yeah, these are physiological principles that can be demonstrated and shown with basic mechanics. It’s like engineering. Folks, please don’t be… I just want my listeners to make sure they are not turned off by thinking that this is only for athletes. Even your book, if I understand correctly, Kelly, is not like folks at any level can take this. What it really is is a set… it’s like PE 2.0. It teaches you how to move in any context. Because, fundamentally, like you said you just don’t squat in the gym. You squat when you go to the bathroom. You squat when you sit down. Once you master these basic movements, you can basically reintegrate the laws of physical movement into your life. Miraculously, these pains that you have start to just go away because the cause is going away.
Kelly: That’s it. You’ve nailed it. When we wrote the book, the book is for everyone. You can scale up and scale down. The first chunk is theory. Then, the next chunk is what your body should look like when you bend down to garden. What your body should look like when you bend over and pick something up off the ground. These basic shapes without any load, without anything that looks and smells like exercise. It is a fundamental right to be pain free.
Jonathan: I would say it’s within all of our reach. It’s just that it’s very hard to accidentally do that. That’s a position I think not all of us unfortunately are in where in less… just chances are we are moving correctly. We have literally never learned those basic skills and it’s certainly worth our time to learn those skills.
Kelly: I think you’ve just nailed it on the head. We test the theory because the theory has to work at this very low threshold. The theory has to work at the highest levels of performance. We test this in the laboratory of human functions, that if I put you into a better position that makes your hip more stable when you squat up and down. By the way, that’s also the same stable hip position when you squat with records or when you run the fastest. Suddenly, you can draw and connect the dots. Then, we test this in our language, especially in CrossFits’ language which is wattage and work output, power.
I can see it change in your capacity to do work when I put you into a better position. That means we’ve gotten more mechanically efficient. That’s really what we are talking about here is, do you understand the basic tenets of how your body works. It’s very simple and you don’t even have to have the biology of [indiscernible 36:27]. You are wired for movement and we just have been making the beautiful assumption that you have the software for the hardware and you don’t. By the way, it’s free. You should be able to know how to do it.
Jonathan: Folks, his name is Dr. Kelly. Kelly how do you pronounce your last name? I am so sorry. I didn’t ask you at the beginning of the show.
Kelly: It’s all right. We violate the diphthong. It’s Starrett.
Jonathan: Starrett. Okay, it sounds like either one of these two things. I was going to guess wrong. Sorry.
Kelly: Don’t worry. Don’t worry.
Jonathan: Certainly, the website MobilityWOD. Folks, you can spend hours and hours and hours up there. It’s a wonderful resource and his brand new book is Becoming a Supple Leopard. Kelly, what’s next?
Kelly: Well, I will tell you what. We were taking on some big social issues. If you go to the website we have a Don’t be Put Off. We have a pro version. It’s like a graduate level version. The whole thing is searchable in our entire database of stuff. It’s like public domain. It’s all out there. If you go there, you can search in knee pain and some videos will come up. You can start to ferret through.
We’re working with some really smart kids about looking at our interface of movements and design, movement and culture. We are going to take on a kind of couple big social things in this next go round. I am working on two more books. I don’t want to divulge too much. We really need to rethink how we interact within our society and the impacts that’s having on us. I really think we are so smart and we have so much kind of good intention that if just harness those things a little bit, I think we can really improve the human condition.
Jonathan: I love it. Well, it certainly sounds like you are staying busy and there will be lot of interesting news in the future. I really appreciate all that you do, Kelly. Because teaching us how to move with high quality, really, that’s right up there with eating well and getting sleep. Those are the basics. Thank you, sir, for all the good that you do.
Kelly: My pleasures. Thank you so much of your time today.
Jonathan: Thank you. Folks, again, that’s MobilityWOD.com and the book is Becoming a Supple Leopard. I hope you enjoyed today’s conversation as much as I did. Please remember this week and every week after. Eat smarter, exercise smarter and based on today’s conversation, move smarter and live better. Talk with you soon.
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