Exercise Form is Not Important

 

– The MOVEMENT Movement with Steven Sashen Episode 104 with Justin Meissner

 

Justin Meissner is a fitness coach with a background in human performance as it relates to locomotive behavior. He has worked with professional athletes and everyday people to help them get out of pain, maximize performance, and be ready for anything.

Outside of fitness, he used to be a professional magician, and teacher. He, his wife and 2 kids live in Meridian Idaho, spending as much time outside as possible. An avid reader and board game enthusiast Justin tried to stay connected with people and not with devices.

 

Listen to this episode of The MOVEMENT Movement with Justin Meissner about how exercise form isn’t important.

 

Here are some of the beneficial topics covered on this week’s show:

  • Why athletes don’t have to worry about form as much as they think.
  • How our bodies aren’t linear, they are dynamic.
  • How our bodies are great at finding the path of least resistance, which can be good or bad.
  • Why running is about using your entire body, not just your feet.
  • How a squat is a made-up exercise made to mimic how humans acted thousands of years ago.

Connect with Justin:

Guest Contact Info

Instagram

@innate.strength

 

Links Mentioned:
thewoadwarrior.com

 

Connect with Steven:

Website

Xeroshoes.com

Jointhemovementmovement.com

Twitter
@XeroShoes

Instagram
@xeroshoes

Facebook
facebook.com/xeroshoes

Steven Sashen:

Whether you’re lifting weights or running or doing pretty much anything, the form is the most important thing, right? What if that is completely wrong? What if form is perhaps the least important thing? Well, I don’t know. We’re going to talk about that and take a look at that in today’s episode of The MOVEMENT Movement, the podcast for people who want to know the truth about what it takes to have a happy, healthy, strong body usually starting feet first. As you know, these things are your foundation.

 

We’re going to break down the propaganda, the mythology, sometimes the outright lies that you’ve been told about what it takes to run or walk or hike or do yoga or CrossFit or just to even hang out with friends sometimes and do that enjoyably and effectively and efficiently. Did I mention enjoyably? Trick question. I know I did. Because look, if you’re not having fun, do something different till you are. Why waste your time otherwise?

 

I’m Steven Sashen from xeroshoes.com, your host of The MOVEMENT Movement podcast. We call it that because we are creating a movement, I’ll talk about how you do that, it doesn’t take any time, effort or money, about natural movement. We’re helping people rediscover that natural movement, doing what your body is supposed to do, what is built to do is like that obvious, healthy, best choice the way we currently think of natural food.

 

The movement part, that involves you. It’s really simple, go to our website, www.jointhe movementmovement.com. You’ll find all the ways that you can interact with us, all the previous episodes of the podcast, where you can find the podcast, where you can find us online on Instagram and Facebook and YouTube, et cetera, et cetera. All you have to do is spread the word. Just share it if you find this interesting. In short, if you want to be part of the tribe, please subscribe. You know how it works. Give us a thumbs up or like, et cetera, et cetera. I’m not going to bore you with the details.

 

So, let’s jump in with someone who’s going to talk about why form is not what you think it is. Justin, first of all, hello. Secondly, tell people who you are and what you’re doing here.

Justin Meissner:

Hi there. Well, thanks for having me on here. I’m super excited. My name is Justin Meissner, I am a fitness coach. I tend to say sports performance and joint mobility expert. We’re going to talk a bit about form and how the body works, and why form isn’t necessarily the thing we should be focusing on as much as we do sometimes.

Steven Sashen:

Well, before we even get there, backing up to the way you introduce yourself, it’s joint mobility, and what was the other thing that you’re an expert in?

Justin Meissner:

You said movement? I say it a few different ways each time, so it depends on iteration that I went with.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. I have that same problem. Someone says, “Can you repeat that?” I go, “Uh, no. I have no idea what I just said. It came out of my head and it was gone.

 

Well then, before we can get past that, because whatever you said in there is what’s leading us to the question at hand, which is, is form important? And if not, why?

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. So, it is … Oh, we should put that in a little preface or parenthesis, right? It is important-

Steven Sashen:

No, no. You have to start with the no it’s not part.

Justin Meissner:

Okay. It’s not important.

Steven Sashen:

There you go.

Justin Meissner:

Because the cells in your body don’t have a brain. They don’t care what the movement pattern is. They just care about are they being recruited or not?

Steven Sashen:

Interesting. So, yes, that’s the significant difference. Many people were paying attention to form. It sounds like what we’re delineating is form and function in a way, or form and efficiency, or form and … I mean, form is used as a kind of catch all for things that are not necessarily catching what it should be.

Justin Meissner:

Exactly. We use it to describe something that should be happening. So, I usually use the example of a deadlift. We could do running, we could do anything, it doesn’t matter what the movement is. But if we’re doing a deadlift, we tend to hinge our hips back, the pressure goes towards the heels, we want to neutral back, whatever that means. We want all these things. And then, if people do that, then they deadlift.

 

But then, the question I usually ask afterwards is where do you feel it? They tell me they feel it in their back. Then, the form is not useful. A lot of times, people will tell me, “Well, I feel in my glutes, but I kind of feel it in my back.” Cool. Then I don’t need to worry so much about how it looks. If I can get you to feel it only in your glutes and not in your back, then I don’t care how it looks because your body doesn’t care how it looks.

Steven Sashen:

Interesting. Now, that’s a really interesting point because there are so many times where you look online. I have a fondness lately for watching YouTube videos of fitness fails of just people catching other people in the gym doing things that are just crazy, horrific, hysterical, et cetera. One of the classics on deadlifting is people who are, well, among other things lifting with their back totally rounded or just doing anything to get the weight up even though it looks ridiculous.

 

In that situation, if they were asked how it feels, it would echo the fact that their form was completely crap. But there are, sometimes, where it can look good, but people are still doing something a little off.

Justin Meissner:

Exactly. I think that’s something that the fitness world doesn’t really talk about much because I don’t think they think about it much. We get really focused on if you’d like to get a training certification course, you’re going to be told this is how a squat looks, this is how deadlift looks, this is how running looks, this is how posture looks, which is all well and good if our body was completely linear. But it’s not. It’s dynamic. So, the movement patterns we have are always going to deviate every single time we move.

 

There’s a study done, I don’t remember how long ago this is, by Nikolai Bernstein. I don’t know if you’re familiar with his work on the blacksmith?

Steven Sashen:

No.

Justin Meissner:

Essentially it was a study done showing that every time the blacksmiths swung the hammer, the movement pattern of the hammer and the arm was different every single time. Generally the same way, but the way the motor units are recruited, it’s different every time. That’s what we call kind of these degrees of freedom in a movement pattern.

 

So, when someone deadlifts, even if they do it 3000 times, they’re all kind of different every single time. The execution is the same. That’s where we can play with that balance of does the form matter? Probably to some extent. But in a lot of ways, the way I deadlift a barbell or the way I would pick up maybe a moving box, there are different things. I’m going to pick them up differently, but I’m still going to use the same recruited muscles, if that makes sense.

Steven Sashen:

It does. So, well, ideally, you’re going to use the same recruited muscles. I mean, if things-

Justin Meissner:

Yes.

Steven Sashen:

… deviate too much, that’s when things get out of whack and you’re starting to feel it in your upper back or your lower back when you should be feeling it in your glutes or hamstrings. So, how does this play out in the real world for people? I mean, we can talk about lifting, we can talk about running, we can go whichever direction you like, but where do people start if they’re just aware of this idea? What’s the next thing for them to pay attention to?

Justin Meissner:

I always start with your joints because if we don’t have joints that do their job well, then I can’t use them well. And so, I usually will start, when I work with people, I assess their joints and we go through an assessment of the shoulder, their hip and their spine. We can go through all of their joints, but it takes a long time. Most of the time, if I go through those three big ticket joints, I kind of have a good idea of what’s going on. So, when someone-

Steven Sashen:

Yes. So, for that assessment, what are you having people do? For people who are listening or watching, they’re immediately thinking, “Okay, how can I check and see if I’m doing something out of whack or in whack?”, which is not a phrase until we just made it up?

Justin Meissner:

Right. It is now.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah.

Justin Meissner:

The shoulder and hips are both ball and socket joints. If that is a new term for people, it just means that it’s got a ball on one end and there’s a socket on the other end, and it technically has 360 degrees of rotation capabilities, technically.

 

So, when I look at a shoulder, I want to see how well does it rotate because, primarily speaking, that’s what a ball and socket does. Our elbows and our knees, those are hinge joints, so I want to see how well they hinge. For most people’s shoulders and hips, they’re often really tight so they almost don’t rotate at all. So, by definition in my book, then they don’t own a hip or a shoulder. And so, if I have a hard time holding my arm out and rotating it down with the elbow bent and I feel tension in my shoulder, it probably means my shoulder has some rotational issues. And if it has rotational issues, then it’s going to have some issues that will compromise any of its movement patterns because it doesn’t do its first thing well.

Steven Sashen:

That’s a great example. For people who are listening, what you just did, to demonstrate this, let’s start by putting your arm straight out to the side at shoulder height and then bend your elbow so you got an L shape, if you will, or maybe something else depending on if you’re looking in the mirror or not. So, your hand is up, elbows at a 90-degree angle and then just rotate your shoulder down.

 

Now, for me, I know that if I do it my left arm, no problem. My right arm, the one I had surgery on, a whole different story.

Justin Meissner:

Sure.

Steven Sashen:

That’s definitely telling and that shows up in my scapula as well for how that does or doesn’t move, which I can feel right now as I’m playing with that, something I’ve been working on, just 30 years ever since I stopped being a gymnast.

 

So, that’s giving you some information about what … Or let me ask it as a question. When you get that information, what do you do with it next?

Justin Meissner:

I get excited about this stuff because I always look for the tiny details, because ultimately the tiny details are probably going to be the things that make the greatest difference because ultimately, if someone has shoulder pain or if they’ve had surgery, I could just go and say, “Okay, well I have exercise routine B or routine A for this type of thing.” But most of the time, what people are experiencing is going to be felt differently because the bodies are different and you’re experiencing things in a different way.

 

So, once I have that information, okay, the shoulder’s really tight. Let’s say, one shoulder is really loose, one is really tight. Then I need to figure out why it’s tight or what’s going on in the shoulder. Is it just tight because they’re not using it? Is it tight because it has had surgery? Is it tight because some other neurological thing is going on? And then from there, I create a program based around increasing the range of motion and mobility in that joint so that it has more of what it should have. So it’s the shoulder again, essentially.

Steven Sashen:

So, I want to … Sorry. So, now we … Wait, I don’t know where to go. There’s just a lot of directions. So, we’re analyzing these joints, we’re seeing where the movement patterns that should be there are not there, we’re finding some way of starting to … Actually, let’s start with that. So, you find something that’s a little locked up. Obviously, there’s, or in my mind, there’s two ways that could be happening; one is something that isn’t flexible enough, the other is something that is either not strong enough or is too strong. Did I miss any?

Justin Meissner:

I would also say there could be something neurological going on. Not even the muscle system but your nervous system could be at play too, as well as your structural bone system as well.

Steven Sashen:

Interesting. Talk about the neurological one. That sounds fun.

Justin Meissner:

That’s the one that gets really interesting because your nervous system is essentially, I always joke that it’s its own person inside you. It’s making sure that you don’t do anything too stupid. Ultimately, you still can do dumb things, we do that all the time, but if you try to and do the splits right now, and you’ve never done the splits, you’re going to stop at a certain point. Not because the muscles physically can’t, but because you have basically these checks and balances that know if you go further, the tissue can’t handle that load and you’ll get injured. This is kind of the way our nervous system checks and balances those positions.

 

If you’re looking at it from an anatomy perspective, your tendon, organs, muscle spindles, they’re responsible for watching the pull and stretch of tissue.

Steven Sashen:

Right.

Justin Meissner:

But when I see that someone can’t move but I’m not feeling the blockage and the tissue, which is kind of a hard thing to explain as well, it usually means that I can passively bend their arm further than they can move it. It means I know they have some flexibility, but they can’t move further. So then, it’s either strength, they need to be stronger to move into that space, or their nervous system doesn’t trust them in this space to move into it.

Steven Sashen:

That’s very-

Justin Meissner:

Yeah, the nervous-

Steven Sashen:

So-

Justin Meissner:

Yeah, the nervous system’s … Go for it.

Steven Sashen:

I was just going to say, where’s it going to go? Why might it be that someone’s nervous system learns, and I’m putting air quotes around that because it’s a weird phrase to say, why would it be that someone’s nervous system learns that there’s a movement that they couldn’t or shouldn’t do?

Justin Meissner:

Most of the time it’s because they’ve done it before, and they’ve been hurt before. And so, it’s protection against the thing. Surgery, sprains, breaks, those kinds of things, we tend to always have a little bit of that security blanket around the movement after we’ve like, if you’ve had surgery on your knee or your shoulder, there’s been that momentary space right afterwards where the movement is really sensitive. You’re very, very, very aware of it. Over time, it sort of goes away, but we also need to spend some time trying to go back into normal movement patterns with it so that we can encourage the nervous system to handle that space again and ultimately be better at that space so that if it was a sprain, we just don’t get sprained the next time.

Steven Sashen:

Right. Pardon me for one second, I got to do a quick pause. I’m getting an emergency message. I’m going to pause-

Justin Meissner:

No worries.

Steven Sashen:

… for a second. My wife doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “No, I can’t talk right now.” So, let’s see. I’m going to pause right here.

 

All right, we had a little break, and my apologies. Just fond of being transparent, we’re renovating a house and all hell is breaking loose. Now, my wife is calling about it.

 

So, about other neurological stuff reminds of things that I did with a guy named Tom Hanna who wrote a book called Somatics. He was the guy who brought Moshe Feldenkrais over to America 47 years ago. They do some really interesting things where they have you do these movements that basically fake your brain out, like you don’t think you can do them, and there’s ways that …

 

I can’t describe all of them, but I’ll use an example. Someone who had a “frozen shoulder,” and they couldn’t lift if above their head. He had them move in some position and ask them to move their arm. Because it was such an unusual position that their whole body was in, they were able to move their arm with full range of motion, and then he had them stand up and recognize that they had done that. Literally, it’s like, “How did I do” was their expression. Once they realized it was possible, everything else started to shift from there.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. The experience I have with people is their emotions usually can come out too. I’ll be assessing someone’s shoulder and we’re going into space that I know they can handle, but they don’t think they can handle, the nervous system doesn’t think they can handle, and they start to get anxious, they get a little panicky. I’ve had people start to emotionally … Some really weird things can happen. That’s a really small population of people. Exactly. Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

I mean, it is interesting because sometimes we, I think, unconsciously become so identified with certain movement patterns that if you discover there’s some whole new way you can move, it can either be really exciting or really terrifying. Some people are more attached to that identity than to the freedom that they just discovered that they’d rather go back to that familiar identity thing.

 

I think there’s so much movement that’s locked in with identity, that I don’t know if people talk about that a lot. I think of it as, the fact that we can identify someone from a hundred yards away by how they’re walking. You know, they take two steps and we know who it is?

Justin Meissner:

Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

That’s crazy if you think about it.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah, it’s interesting how much we put, like cork into movement is usually what I tell people. When I do running clinics I always tell people, “I’m going to teach you things that are going to help improve your run, but ultimately the way you run is the way you run. We just want to see these traits in that run so that it is efficient and it’s safe and it’s good. But ultimately, we’re not robots. We’re not going to run exactly the exact same way.” And I’ll usually show some videos of people running so we can see, “Here are those markers that I’m looking for when they run, but look at this person, look at this person, look at this person.” They’re all running different when you look at it from a global perspective. When you look at the local movement patterns, they’re doing the things I want to see good runners do.

Steven Sashen:

I’m dying to hear what some of those are because the reason that I think about this is a conversation I had with Nicholas Romanov who created what he calls Pose Method running. One of the things that he talks about is that there can be idiosyncratic differences; but the better you get, the more those get kind of removed, the more those disappear.

 

If you look at the elite runners as an example, they’re so much alike. The differences are so, so small that only somebody who has really good eyes could see. And if you look, for example, if you do a search on YouTube for Usain Bolt slow motion, there’s a great video of him running. You look at his form and it’s just amazing. But then, you look at all the other seven guys in that race and they look exactly the same. There’s tiny little difference how the right hand is being held or, I mean, itty bitty things but by large, for the average person, you’re going to see that they look identical.

Justin Meissner:

Exactly. And so, most of the time with people, when I tell them that they don’t get it because I do it all the time, so I see it all the time. But when we watch people run, and usually when I show the videos, the joke I make is, “Do we see the difference?” and they’re like, “No.” I’m like, “Okay, but look at this guy’s hands. See how he’s moving his hands? They’re not as big as that guy’s hands.” It also depends on their speed and those kinds of things too.

 

But I think that’s where we got this idea that a movement has to look a very specific way. And it does, right? Running has to be a certain way for it to be running.

Steven Sashen:

Right.

Justin Meissner:

But if we understand how the body is going to consistently continually make variable changes to that movement pattern, every single step in my run is going to be a little bit different, which is okay.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, yeah. I’m reminded, one of the world champion runners a number of years ago was a guy named Ato Boldon. Ato, he says it was from playing soccer as a kid, his right foot turned out over 45 degrees. He was a world champion. People would say, “Oh, if you would just straighten out his foot.” It’s like, no, no, no, that’s how he runs. Other than the fact that his foot was turned out, everything else, again, looked identical to the other seven guys in the race.

Justin Meissner:

Right. Your body’s great at finding the path of least resistance. That can sometimes be to our benefit or to our detriment, right? When people get really bad posture and they get back pain and those things, that’s when we have path of least resistance has become the bad path to follow, and then we’re trying to re-correct the path of least resistance back to what it should be so the natural path of resistance is the right one.

Steven Sashen:

That’s interesting. Well, let’s talk about that from a context of running because I know there are a lot of people who listen to this who run. So, what are some of those, let’s call them common factors, that are the things that you want to see and some of the things that are deviations from that?

Justin Meissner:

Sure. I mean, I think of it like really basic mechanics. If you were to stand up on your feet and stand on one foot, what’s the natural thing that’s going to happen? You’re going to shift your weight to that foot.

Steven Sashen:

Right.

Justin Meissner:

Your head is going to shift over that foot. And a lot of people, when they run, they try and keep their head dead center of their body, which … Then your running is all about your legs. I find that running is all about your whole body. It’s a body movement, right? It’s expressed through the legs, but my whole body’s participating in the movement. So, I want to have my head shifting foot to foot. It’s not a big shift like you’re doing these giant head shots when you run, but when you watch people run, you’ll see them jet their head out a little bit to the side because they’re trying to shift into the space so that they’re on top of the foot they’re landing on versus landing on it or, what people tend to do, fall on to it, and that’s where all that pressure goes into the knee and all that stuff we want to avoid.

 

Another thing I look forward to is rhythm, right? When people run, I want to see a good rhythm and a good pacing that makes sense for their body size mechanics. Because depending on your leg length, you’re going to have a different stride length; depending on how fast you run, it’s going to change those things too.

 

The last thing that I usually pick out is can I hear you run and to what degree do I hear you run?

Steven Sashen:

I was just going to ask you about listening. So, what do you listen for? What are the things you’re hearing? I think of it because when I worked at this one sprinting coach back when I just had just gotten back to sprinting which was 14 years ago when I was 45, he said, “You’re a really good runner, but you’re not a sprinter yet. I can tell from listening.” And I said, “What?” I had no idea what he was talking about. I now do, and I can hear it, but I’m very curious to hear what you listen for and what you hear.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. I mean, so on a basic level, I’m just listening to like, are you some person who’s making big loud heavy steps when you run? Because then I know you’re running mechanics are off. I can also listen for the pacing of your running. If I can hear your feet, I can usually hear, do I hear a consistent pattern or do I hear something that’s off. Because that can also tell me a bit more about like maybe there’s something going on in your left hip, so your left stride is off; and now, we don’t have that nice consistent pattern that I want to kind of hear.

 

But also, again, when we go to speed, the faster I go, the closer to my toes I get. And so when we’re starting to sprint, I’m going to hear a lot less because there’s less foot on the ground. Just naturally speaking, if you look at big cats, any animals that don’t have heels, they’ve got these big pads. You don’t really hear them when they run, which is by their nature and design. We don’t have that unless you wear those big cushy nonsense shoes. But even those people, I still hear them when they’re running, so I ask them-

Steven Sashen:

Oh, dude. Dude, there was a guy who lived on my block, and we lived on this cul de sac. I could hear him from half a block away, and it was just like slam, slam, slam, slam. When I saw him, he was wearing big, thick maximally padded shoes which they say you can’t do that in those shoes. And I’ve heard more people running loudly in those than anything else.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. I think it just encourages poor mechanics-

Steven Sashen:

Absolutely.

Justin Meissner:

… instead of fixing the problem. So, I mean, when I do clinics for running, most of the people I work with feel like they’re in Spartan races, they’re older athletes who just want to keep running, or they’re people who have no idea how to run.

 

And so, when I start with them, I work with just the basics of like, when I hear you run, I’m going to hear you because you’re moving, but I shouldn’t be able to pick you out of a crowd, right? If I can pick you out of a crowd, that means you’re doing something with your mechanics. You’re putting all this pressure onto your knees, it’s going through your spine, you’re falling onto your feet. I always say, if you’re light on your feet, the pressure still goes down, but the momentum is forward, right? Because we’re using our glutes and our posterior chain to push us and propel us forward.

Steven Sashen:

If people are running, and they want to start listening to themselves, what are some of the things that you think they should be listening for that might give them … Before I actually finish that question, I want to say, we like to say, with Xero Shoes, especially with our sandals, that the sound is one of your coaches.

 

My favorite thing is a guy who emailed me who said, “Your sandals make a slapping noise.” I said, “No. You’re making the slapping noise with our sandals.” He emailed me back a little while later and says, “I noticed something that when I started running uphill, they were quiet.” I said, “No. When you’re running uphill, you were quiet.” But he was really smart. I mean, he was experimenting. And he realized, “Well, let me see if I can figure out how to keep that quietness when I crest the hill, when I’m not going straight up.” He eventually figured out what the gait pattern was that allowed him to do that.

 

You can’t be silent, silent when you’re contacting the ground, even if you’re in bare feet. But there’s certain things, one of the things I listen for when I’m on the track and I hear people running is the scraping sound like they’re kicking sand behind them. That’s not a good one. Or that double tap like or like heel strike and then your foot slapping down the ground and then you’ll usually hear the scraping thing after that.

 

But what are some of the things that you would. If you’re giving someone a homework assignment to go listen to themselves running, what are some of the things you’d want them to listen for or play with?

Justin Meissner:

I used to be a teacher, so I’m really used to giving really weird metaphors to help people understand things.

Steven Sashen:

Okay.

Justin Meissner:

One of the ones that I’ll use is I want you to sound like you’re on a pogo stick. That’s because the way a pogo stick is landing on the ground. Its momentum is straight down versus kicking me back or falling forward. Even a pogo stick, when you’re jumping on it, they don’t make a loud sound when they hit the ground.

Steven Sashen:

No.

Justin Meissner:

Even if the person is jumping super high up in the air. Now, it’s because they have compressive force, but so does our foot in our ankle. That’s what the Achilles tendons are forced, what our muscles are forced to create compressive force so we can handle it. So, I want them to be able to hear a sound that you hear but is congruent with where your momentum is going, which is to make you feel as well.

Steven Sashen:

I like that one. Because if you really think about it, when the pogo stick lands, you don’t hear the stick landing, you hear the spring compressing and extending. You don’t really hear the landing and you don’t really hear a push off if you really pay attention. That’s a great one.

 

This is the thing that I’m also curious. I’ve noticed that some people are just better at playing with different movement patterns. If they go home, they go for a run and they don’t feel that or hear that kind of pogo stick-ish sound, it’s not the spring compressing because that would be crazy if you did hear that.

Justin Meissner:

Yes.

Steven Sashen:

Some people are better at experimenting with different movement patterns to play with those. Do you have any advice for what to do if you hear something that doesn’t sound as crisp and clean as that pogo stick?

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. I mean, I would start looking at things like how much gait you’re using when you run. I think people tend to try and make bigger strides than they can handle. And so, because they’re sticking their leg out super far, their torso is not over their leg when they land that foot on the ground and then they fall towards the leg. And really to get that pogo sticks down, my momentum needs to be over it as I’m landing on it.

Steven Sashen:

So, you really need to be a pogo stick. You need to be … The foot is the bottom of the pogo stick and the rest of you is that spring. You want to be a … I don’t want to use the word stiff spring because that’s the wrong impression I’m going for. You don’t want to be too compliant, is the better way of what I want to say.

Justin Meissner:

Right.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah, you want to listen to those things, and you want to check. So, I used to tell people when you start running, do a test. Pause on a foot and see how easy it is for you to balance when you run.

 

Because if I would stop on that foot and I lean to the side that my other foot is up in the air on, then I know I’m not shifting over to that side for balance. If I land on that foot and I’m going to fall backwards, then I know I don’t have enough forward momentum. And if I land on that foot and almost fall on my face, then I know I have way too much forward momentum.

Steven Sashen:

Interesting.

Justin Meissner:

And I want to be able to land and kind of stick onto my foot because it’s a good balanced position. It tells me that my body has shifted, the bones have stacked where they should be so that I can land on the foot to then push off and then land on the next foot.

Steven Sashen:

I’m playing with that in my head, and I don’t think I could do it at all. But as a sprinter, I can’t think of one stride that I take where I’d be able to stop in a single stride.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah, it’s an exercise. It’s not a skill set that I would tell someone to get really good at.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah.

Justin Meissner:

Right? When I would teach people how to walk, I do the same thing. I’ll have them walk for a bit and I’ll say pause. They’ll pause and I’ll say, “Don’t cheat.” If they’re going to fall, I want them to feel that they’re going to fall so they can tell, “My walking gait is funky, and I need to do something about it.” And then I want to be able to make that especially when I ran too.

Steven Sashen:

I just love the phrase that you just use, which is when I teach walking. Most people don’t think that that’s something that you … Most people don’t think they need to be taught running. They think, “Well, I can run.” But the idea that you need to teach walking, and you’re talking to someone who has a couple of blog posts about how to walk properly. So, I’m dying to hear why it is that you find that you’re teaching people to walk? Just dive into that for a bit.

Justin Meissner:

A lot of the background I’ve been going through in terms of my training is focused on locomotive behavior. So, basically how we’re bipedal animals and how we move forward and how we kind of just move around. If we understand that our bodies are locomotive in their nature, then my exercising should also be congruent to locomotive behavior. So, a really complicated way of me saying that there’s a certain way that I should walk that’s congruent to the way my body functions.

 

A lot of people find the path of least resistance that has nothing to do with natural walking pattern. I think for a lot of people it starts with the fact that they think their legs do all the work, and so they’re trying to just use their legs to walk forward. They are heavy footed. They’re making these big, heavy sounds. Their feet are super far out, they’re walking like penguins, whatever you want to describe the walking gait as. They’re doing these patterns and they don’t realize that it matters, that the way I walk is a whole-body exercise just like running is.

 

When I walk properly, I feel my whole body engaging in some way, shape or form from my toes up through my shoulders, really. And then people, when I tell them that, they’re like, “That sounds crazy.” And then I teach them, and they go, “Man, the way I used to walk, that was crazy.”

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, yeah.

Justin Meissner:

But then we can start running, then we can start lunging and we can start deadlifting because they understand how those translate to their behavior.

Steven Sashen:

Well, I think you just hinted at it. You know, one of the things that I noticed with people walking is most people don’t use their butts, they don’t use their hamstrings. These are two of the biggest muscles in your body. They’re called prime movers for a reason and people don’t use them. I just wonder how much of that is just totally …

 

Backing up to that thing of recognizing someone by their walk. The way we get some of those, I don’t know how much of it is genetic and how much of it is just imitating our parents unconsciously or something like that, or things like … I was an all-American gymnast way back when and I half-jokingly say, “I was a gymnast from the time I was 12 till the time I was 30, and then I’ve spent the next 30 years getting the gymnast out of my body.” Some of it was just when I was going through my formative years developing certain movement patterns that were ideal for gymnastics, not ideal for pretty much anything else. But I wonder how much of it is societal or social because you go to other countries and people walk differently.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah, I definitely think both things matter, right? Everyone has a different hip structure. The way the ball and socket joint sits for someone’s hips will give a terminal mobility position. That’s why I tell people, “Don’t worry if you can’t sit in a squat all the way down with your butt on the ground because you may just genetically not be able to. And that’s not because you’re wrong, it’s just bodies are different. And if that’s different, then that’s going to change the way my gait’s going to be too and the way my pattern is going to be.”

 

So, part of it, I think, is gait from that. The other part I definitely think it’s from parents because if you watch little kids when they first start to walk, they kind of do it right. Unless their parents put on a really thick shoes, then the kids lose it because they can’t feel their feet anymore.

Steven Sashen:

Right.

Justin Meissner:

But you watch the little kids walk and you even watch them when they run, their mechanics are right, they are just too big and all over the place. The idea is as they get older, they hone in. But then, they watch us move and they realize, “Oh, you don’t need any of that. I’ll just do what I see my parents do,” then we start that pattern that way.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, that unconscious imitation thing is really fascinating because it makes no … I mean, you do it to fit in. You do it to be recognized. You do it to be part of your family, your clan. But at the same time, it’s completely nuts because so much of what you’re doing is undeniably … I mean, how could it feel right if you paid attention to it? But of course you’re at that age, you can’t pay attention to it.

Justin Meissner:

Exactly. And you’re right, it’s that age where we don’t really know better, right?

Steven Sashen:

Yeah.

Justin Meissner:

We just follow what we see. And then I think a lot of it too is … We have this position that people talk about called the anatomically correct position, which has nothing to do with posture. It was just so that we could easily see the body parts. But we somehow morphed this anatomically correct position to mean, that’s how I’m supposed to look when I do things.

Steven Sashen:

Interesting.

Justin Meissner:

But that’s not what that was really for. It’s not that straight spine isn’t bad, it’s just … What I tell people is there’s not a specific posture that’s bad for you, it’s the one that you do all the time. It’s going to be the one that’s going to make the most problems, and that’s going to go for any posture, the one that we think looks good and the one we don’t think looks good.

 

So, I always tell people vary what you do. When I walk, I’ll see other people walk. You’ll see people have that little bit of strike; you’ll see people who walked, like I said, that they’re penguins; some of that walk like they’re robots; some of that walk like they don’t know how the rest of their body is connected to their legs.

Steven Sashen:

Right.

Justin Meissner:

I always start by trying to explain that when you’re walking, your torso drives movement and your limbs are expressions of that movement. So, whether that’s throwing a baseball, walking, running, pushing, whatever the thing is, I’m always going to be thinking about my torso is kind of the engine starting point and those limbs are the extensors, they’re the ones that are going to express that movement.

Steven Sashen:

If we go back to the thing of little kids, and I love watching kids walk and run. For them, of course, the initiator of the movement is their giant head which, that thing leads, and they just have to try to follow.

Justin Meissner:

Right.

Steven Sashen:

In fact, when I teach barefoot running to people, one of the things that I love to do is we go out in the park and I go, “Just let your arms kind of dangle and don’t worry about it. Just lean your head and try to catch up with your head, but don’t let it. The moment you feel like you’re catching up, move your head in a different direction. Do it until you don’t care that there’s other people watching you because, by the way, they’re not.

Justin Meissner:

Right.

Steven Sashen:

They don’t care about you.

Justin Meissner:

Right.

Steven Sashen:

We’re on a track recently. There’s a bunch of little kids, like three to five years old. Not only did they have perfect form, but they have this look on their face when they ran that you rarely see with adults. I think it’s called smiling?

Justin Meissner:

Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, that’s a good one.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. I always tell people when I do running clinic, like, “I would, but I hate running.” I’m like, “So you probably should go. You probably hate it because you can’t do it, not because you hate the actual effort.” Some people don’t like exercise. I get that. But most people that I have, when they learned to run or do these things properly, they’re like, “Oh, that’s not so bad,” or “When I ran downhill, my knee doesn’t hurt.” “Well, yeah, because you’re not abusing it. You’re actually just using it.” So now, the physical feeling is good, so the emotional feeling is good.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, yeah. We gave some ideas for people, what to pay attention to when they’re running. Can you think of anything for the people to pay attention to when they’re walking?

Justin Meissner:

I mean, I would kind of use some of the same things. I don’t want my foot to just fall into the ground, but I also tell people think about what you’re doing. Like, are you sticking your leg all the way out in front, letting it land on the ground and then letting your body shift to the foot on the ground or are you landing your foot on the ground as your body is over that foot on the ground?

 

I always say, if you want to see how well people walk, watch them walk on a sidewalk they don’t know has ice on it.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, yeah. That’s good.

Justin Meissner:

Because the person that’s going to stay mostly balanced is probably the person who’s landing on their foot properly. The one who comically slings their feet up into the air and lands on their back is probably the person who stuck their foot out and then tried to put pressure on it. But the pressure isn’t down; it’s now at an angle which is going to, of course, not be so great on a smooth surface like ice. Or, if they slip and fall towards their face, I know I put too much forward and I’m pulling myself back.

Steven Sashen:

There’s a thing that I found myself doing recently, watching the Olympic trials. I don’t know when this conversation is going to air, but I hope people get the opportunity to watch the Olympics just to watch how people walk before and after every event in different sports because it’s really interesting to watch.

 

I tried to imitate some of them just because you watch them, and I go, “How are they doing that? That looks so weird.” Some of them I can’t do to save my life. My all-time favorite, look, again, I was a gymnast. I can’t walk like a female gymnast. There’s a thing they do that I can’t even describe it. It’s just such an unusual way of moving. And then if you look at some of the power lifters, again, I have no idea how they’re moving the way they are. And the reason that I’m curious about trying to imitate it is I also like, one of the suggestions I like to give people is if you feel like you’re doing it wrong, try to exaggerate the wrongness because that will bring that to your awareness.

Justin Meissner:

Right. Usually, I’ll do is I’ll over exaggerate the rightness so that if they won, they usually look ridiculous walking. When I do running clinic, we do this thing called Raptor runs. Just imagine Jurassic Park Raptor, seeing how they ran; and imagine a human kind of doing something similar.

 

The reason we do it, though, is because it encourages more proper mechanics. Everyone feels silly doing it, but afterwards, I’m like, “Did you feel that?” Most people will say, “Okay, I kind of get it.” “Now, I want you to run with that mindset but don’t be so cartoonish about it. Pull it back to a more natural pattern.”

Steven Sashen:

Oh, I love it.

Justin Meissner:

We’ll do the same thing when we walk. I’ll usually have them hold like a PVC pipe or something so they can feel this kind of shift through their torso as they’re moving, and I’ll have them do it really big. I say, “Once you make it so big that you can feel your weight is fully on your left foot and then fully leaves and goes to your right foot, and I want you to feel like that the steps themselves weren’t an effort to move forward, they just kind of move forward.” Because then, when I can feel that, just like you’re describing with the frozen shoulder, if I can help someone feel it, then I know they can handle it on their own.

Steven Sashen:

Right.

Justin Meissner:

Sometimes we have to do things that show them that they can handle it, and then they can go and handle it out fine.

Steven Sashen:

Oh, I love it. Are there any other sort of like key movement patterns? We’ve talked about sort of hinging thing with deadlifting, we’ve talked about running, we’ve talked about walking. Is there anything else that you want to touch on that you’ve noticed in people as kind of a biggie? I mean, those are three big ones.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. I mean, I just try and think about what is popular in the exercise world right now and what’s kind of turning … The popular thing is what we call the “functional” exercises because they’re, I guess, different somehow.

Steven Sashen:

I love that you put air quotes around functional because I can’t think of anything that’s less functional than some of those movements, the way they were done. I was on a panel discussion, actually, and it was actually talking about sort of natural moving things, like going out and playing in trees and doing whatever. I said, “Well, look, let’s call it what it is. No one’s walking down to the river and picking up stones and bringing them back to build a house. Nobody is climbing trees to get the berries. Nobody is doing these things that were the natural things. They’re all artifice in some way.”

 

Especially if it’s a functional fitness thing, and I’m probably pissing off some people who do functional fitness or teach it, but so much of the functional fitness came from developing machines to just allow you to do different movement patterns that don’t really simulate the original movement patterns.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. I usually tell people that a squat is just a made-up exercise for the fact that you don’t do things you used to do as a human anymore. That’s true for any exercise. They’re all made up with pieces of nonsense. In terms of how old they are, they’re not that old, technically speaking, for how long humans have been around and had been moving. But we’ve been doing squat-based things, right?

Steven Sashen:

Yes.

Justin Meissner:

It’s just, the way I squat to go like pick up a stone is the way I’m going to squat to be prepared to hunt; the way I squat when I’m with my family, they’re all different expressions of the same mechanics.

 

That’s where I start to play with this idea that the form isn’t necessarily what’s important, it’s what’s the goal and what’s the function. And so, if I’m doing an exercise … I can make any exercise more beneficial than it actually is as long as I understand why am I pushing this thing over my head? What’s the translatable thing for a human for this?

Steven Sashen:

Right.

Justin Meissner:

Okay, now I get it. Now I can apply that to the exercise. So, it’s not static, sterile, lifting a clean balanced weight. I can start applying that to challenging it. So, if I do a deadlift, maybe I should stand facing forward but twist to the side and try deadlifts a little bit at an angle. Not because that’s the right way to deadlift, but because I should probably know how to deadlift outside of this clean little box that I get at the gym.

Steven Sashen:

If you want to watch people freak out … I can’t remember what it’s called. You’ll probably know. It’s the deadlift where you straddle the bar and you’re at an angle?

Justin Meissner:

Yeah, I know what you’re talking about, but I can’t think of the name.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. For people, to describe it, just imagine that you’re standing in front of a bar and you’re going to deadlift it. You spread your legs wide and then you just take one foot and put it on the other side of the bar. Close the bar then twist your body just enough so you can just grab the bar with your hand straight below you.

 

It’s almost like you’re doing the weird, lungey kind of something movement to do it. It looks completely goofy and it’s so fascinating to do. People will think that you’re doing something wrong, and they will come up and correct you.

Justin Meissner:

Right. Right.

Steven Sashen:

That’s my favorite part.

Justin Meissner:

The amount of times that I … I always experiment with movements because I don’t really care about the exercise, I care about what am I trying to accomplish with this.

 

So, I really like experimenting with things that we may always … Our barbell, I don’t really deadlift a lot because I just don’t think it translates as cleanly to picking up anything else because it’s this nice, clean, easy handling bar. It’s got even weight distribution; it’s big and long, it’s shiny. It makes sense for Olympic lifting and for sport and for certain styles of training, but I’d rather deadlift like, let me go see if I can pick up that big stump, let me go see if I can pick up that weird awkward looking chair. Can I deadlift it?

Steven Sashen:

Right.

Justin Meissner:

Because if I have more variety of how I deadlift, then I’ve got a thousand ways to deadlift that are all using the same mechanics, and I have probably a higher probability of doing it better and safer than the person who’s only ever picked up the same type of thing a thousand times.

Steven Sashen:

I think what you’re describing, though, runs so contrary to the way human beings like to think, which is we want it to be simple. We want to just know how do I get from here to there? And then we try to look to somebody who we think has gotten there and try to imitate them.

 

I mean, the notion that you would have to come up with some new way of deadlifting every time you decided to do some exercise is so contrary to the way humans are wired. That’s just the fascinating creative process that you’re going through that I know for some people they would just find it terrifying because they wouldn’t think they know what to do. But I also imagine, after trying it for a little while, it could get very exciting because you have more ranges of motion, more degrees of freedom, more things to play with and try.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. Ultimately, what I tell people is at the beginning it is a little bit like you have to start taking those baby steps to trust your body. It’s more about what I feel. That’s the thing I’m trying to get better at coaching people when I work with clients and athletes and whoever I’m working with, that I want you to be able to see what something looks like but I want you to be able to feel what you’re supposed to feel. Because if you can feel it, the intent behind it is the important thing. Ultimately, I can tell it’s a thing a million different ways, I just need to make sure that I always use my glutes and my hamstrings. The rest of it just doesn’t matter as long as I still use that part of my chain.

Steven Sashen:

Right.

Justin Meissner:

Then when we get there, it’s a lot easier for the person to realize, okay, so if I want to lift up a log press, I didn’t know how to deadlift it because it’s different than a barbell, but I’m still using the same muscles, so I just need to know how I can feel those when my lift it, then I can go and do the same with the box. I can do the same with the table, I can do the same with a person. It doesn’t matter as long as I understand that chain really well.

Steven Sashen:

I wonder, maybe think of it like if I was going to turn that into a workout. I would take a bar and put … Because you need to have something to give you some bit of resistance, but like the barest amount that I could think of and then literally just, probably having to go in slow motion to see what it’s like to lift that relatively lightweight thing, just enough to give you a little feedback in as many different ways as I can, just to see what it’s like and see which ones I do like and which ones I don’t like. And I would be especially curious about the ones that I don’t like.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. It’s interesting to do that because you’ll, again, your body’s always in full expression. If you’re doing a heavy deadlift, you’re going to be using your core, you’re going to be using your lats, you’re going to be using your whole body to lift this thing, right? So, it’s not just your chain, it’s just those are in support of the primary movers of that exercise.

 

So, as you go and, let’s say, maybe twist a little bit to your right to do your deadlift, things will change. I’m more to my right side, that probably means I’m going to use more of my right side. So, I’m going to probably feel more of my right glute, I’m going to probably feel more of my right lat and feel more of my right shoulder to support the weight as I lifted up in this position. And then I might say, “Okay, I might pick it up in my right side.” Can I go to my left and can I put it down on my left side and then do the same on the other way or stagger the feet? What kind of position can I put myself in that’s not like a yoga crazy position? I want to be in some realm of safety and … I don’t want people to go out there and-

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Justin Meissner:

… scaring the world with exercises. But I think we shouldn’t be afraid to see a movement that we maybe don’t understand. Rather than say, “Well, that’s just bad for your back.” I usually tell them, “It’s maybe bad for your back, but my back’s fine when I do it.” But I understand why people feel that way when they see it.

Steven Sashen:

You know, one of the things that’s related to this that just popped into my head from a conversation I had recently is that there’s these things that people have done to make adaptations based on their own physiology, their own morphology that have become, what’s the word I’m looking for? Not standard issue. Common … Well, I can’t think of the word. I’ll just do the example and hopefully you’ll think of the word.

 

I’ve talked to a bunch of people who are going to CrossFit or they’re going to certain gyms where they’re doing certain kinds of powerlifting moves or Olympic lifting moves, and they think that they need to be wearing lifting shoes. I say, “Why?” They go, “Well, they have a hard soles like wooden soles.” I said, “So is the floor.” They go, “Yeah.” “So, it’s the floor, but it’s elevating your heel.” “Yeah.” “Well, why do you think someone came up with that?” They’re like, “I don’t know.”

 

Well, it’s pretty easy. Their femur was probably long so they had a hard time squatting with their foot flat on the ground, so they took the floor and changed the angle of the floor, and now everyone thinks they need to wear lifting shoes because that guy did.

 

Again, I don’t know what the word is when it becomes common wisdom or whatever that is. But again, I see so many of these things that are clearly somebody came up with some way of doing something for them, and now everyone just copies it.

Justin Meissner:

Exactly. I mean, it’s like with diet and nutrition, right? Someone did a diet-

Steven Sashen:

Oh, God. Yeah.

Justin Meissner:

… and it worked for them. So now, everyone thinks it works for everybody and it doesn’t. The same is true for those kinds of things. I always tell people that it’s not that a shoe with a cushion on it is 100% the wrong thing, but the intent behind why it was created in the first place is completely lost, and the reason for it, I think, has been out proven with a function of the foot, right?

Steven Sashen:

Oh, wait. It’s even better. I’m betting, you actually don’t know why shoes have big, big padded elevator heels. Tell me why you think of this.

Justin Meissner:

So, again, well I think it’s because people are running heel toe, they’re hurting their knees and their shin splints. They put a big cushion on the heel. Solves the problem.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. It’s even better than that, right? So, back in the day, Bill Bowerman at Nike was getting all these runners who were getting Achilles tendonitis. He was sharing an office with some sports podiatrist, they might have been orthopedic podiatrist, I never remember which is which, and he said, “What do you recommend?” They said, “Well, clearly these runners they have been wearing higher heeled dress shoes, so their Achilles have shortened. They need a higher heeled running shoe to accommodate that. That’s when they came up with wedge heel.

 

Cut to 30 years later when one of these doctors is in track meet with a friend of mine, and my friend says, “This idea that you guys came up with, the big wedge heel, has become ubiquitous.” It’s in every athletic shoe ever made since this idea took off when Nike did it because it was unusual and different, not because it was necessarily better. He said, “What do you think about that?” His doctor said, “Biggest mistake we ever made.” He said, “We had no evidence for this Achilles shortening idea. We were seeing everything through a prosthetic meeting lens, and that was just what we came up with. What we really didn’t know, and we see what the effect has been now, yes, biggest mistake we ever made.”

Justin Meissner:

That’s fascinating.

Steven Sashen:

Who knew?

Justin Meissner:

Right.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Not surprisingly, Nike doesn’t like it when they talk to people.

Justin Meissner:

Right. Weird, right?

Steven Sashen:

I have one friend who used to work for Nike. He commented about something in an article about a Nike product. He hasn’t worked for them for quite a long time and he still got a call from their lawyers saying, “Yes, we know that we are not contractually obligated to do anything with or without a company, but if you say another word, we’re going to kick the living crap out of you. It’s like, wow. I’m paraphrasing only slightly.

Justin Meissner:

Right.

Steven Sashen:

Anyway, in the last couple minutes that we have, this has been totally fascinating. I just love the basic idea that we’ve really taken a deep dive into of just using your attention and awareness to pay attention to the different ways you’re moving because of the reasons that you’re doing it more than for the specific, even necessarily the specific outcome that you’re thinking of, getting stronger or getting faster or getting whatever. But breaking it down in a way to really figure out what the optimal way of exploring that movement is, I just think that’s totally interesting.

 

Look, admittedly, lately post COVID or what seems to be post COVID, as I’ve been getting back on the track and doing running, I’ve been really experimenting with what are the things that I want to do to get stronger in ways that I know I need to get stronger as I’m becoming older, and that’s fading away slightly. It’s really given me a lot to think about for the stuff that I want to do and like doing.

Steven Sashen:

Even with machines. I saw this one exercise, there’s a guy on a Roman chair which, for people who don’t know, it’s just basically a 45-degree angle thing that you lean against and you can bend your hips. But he did something on the Roman chair I’ve never seen before. He spread his legs wide and turned his toes out. It was a whole different movement than if you just have your toes pointing forward, legs close together and just starting to experiment with these things to see what’s really working for whatever your goal is. It actually got me really excited to go play in my home gym tonight.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. I think, to me, the word that I use all the time is intent, right? It’s always back to what’s the intent, what’s the goal and does this line up with the intent? And so, if people understand how to move their bodies well, which I think is the biggest task, is just getting really aware of how to articulate the muscles and the tissue. When someone says, “Well, my left glute doesn’t fire.” I’m like, “Cool. Go push my car up a hill, I guarantee you it’ll fire. You just don’t know how to do it anymore.” We just lost-

Steven Sashen:

Sorry. Did you ever hear, I know you hear Joe Rogan. Someone asked him to describe fighting, and he has this great line. He says fighting is the art of using your muscles to throw your bones at people.

Justin Meissner:

That’s good. That’s brilliant.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Well, the glute firing thing, one of my favorite things is I just stick my finger in their butt and just make that not so annoying. They have to tighten their glute to do that, and it’s like, that’s firing. Now you know.

Justin Meissner:

Yes. You can do it. Surprise.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah.

Justin Meissner:

The amount of times I’ll bring that kind of thing up where I’ll say, “Well, if it didn’t work, you wouldn’t be here right now because there’d be a lot of other things stopping you and we’d have to go over those things.”

Steven Sashen:

But to your point, though, it is very doable to decondition something or to get used to not using it efficiently or effectively or as fully as possible. Like when I’m working with people at walking, backing up to that one, I’ll have them have one foot on the ground, lift the other foot just like a half an inch off the ground and say, “Don’t do anything with the leg that’s off the ground and move forward.” Basically, they push their grounded leg bike like they’re skaters. I go, ” Yeah, you can only do that by using your glutes.”

Justin Meissner:

Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

They go, “Oh.” And if you just repeat that, one leg to the other, you’ll like Frankenstein’s monster for a few minutes, and then you just even it out and suddenly you’re using your legs correctly.

Justin Meissner:

Right. Well, and even to that, the way we push things away from us is with the front of our body. So, push up uses pecs, biceps, that sort of thing. But when I pull things to me, I use the back side of my body, which is the same thing for my legs. If I want to push, quads; go on a walk, run, move in a forward momentum, it’s the backside of my body that does the work.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, that’s great.

Justin Meissner:

When we understand that, then it’s like … Again, if I understand what my bustles do, we don’t need to have these PhDs, as normal people, to understand the body. But if I understand the task and what my muscles are for, then I know, okay, if I’m going to lift up this box and put it up higher, lifting it using my legs; getting up over there, I can use my shoulders, my back and my core. And then I just know, okay, well, I know how to use those, so I’ll just go lift up the box.

 

That’s what we kind of do with walking. We get to the point where it’s like, “Well, now you know. Just go walk.”

Steven Sashen:

Right. I love it. This has been super, super fun. If people want to find out more about this, to dive into this kind … I don’t know why I’ve used the phrase dive into 500 times in this chat, but it’s the one I’m using today, apparently. If people want to find out more about what you’re doing and take a deeper dive into it, how can they do that?

Justin Meissner:

I live here in Idaho. I have a website, the woadwarriorior.com.

Steven Sashen:

The roadwarrior.com.

Justin Meissner:

Woad Warrior.

Steven Sashen:

Sorry.

Justin Meissner:

W-O-A-D. It’s a Celtic term.

Steven Sashen:

My apologies.

Justin Meissner:

No worries.

Steven Sashen:

No, I was just doing it with the inverse of a weird list. And I knew it too, which, I don’t know why I said it wrong when I said it. So, thewoadwarrior.com.

Justin Meissner:

Yes. Or they can find me on Instagram, which is what I use a bit more these days, @innate.strength.

Steven Sashen:

Very sweet. When they go to either of those places, what will they find?

Justin Meissner:

My website, they’ll find a guy who’s focused on making you fight dragons, not literally. I’m all about fitness for anything, so you can do anything.

Steven Sashen:

I think it’s a sad state of affairs that you have to qualify that with not literally.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah.

Steven Sashen:

There are no literal dragons to be found on your website.

Justin Meissner:

Right.

Steven Sashen:

And on your Instagram?

Justin Meissner:

My Instagram is where I do a lot of informational and educational stuff. Right now I’ve been focusing on tips for squats, so patterns that I want to see to make a squat better, but still focused on the idea that it’s not about my form, it’s about what’s the task and can I make the task happen.

Steven Sashen:

Oh, I like it. Squatting is one, I think, that is so important and so misunderstood and so full of mythology and propaganda and fear and terror and all manner of things. It makes me smile.

 

My dad who was not physically active at all, up until the time he died when he was in his 80s, the two things he was kind of most proud of, he could get his legs into a lotus position and he could squat and not putting barbell. Just like feet flat on the ground, but touching the ground correctly. He was just so proud of that, and I enjoy thinking about that.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah, I think the squats … Ultimately, all exercise, I always joke, we’re just picking stuff up and putting stuff back down. That’s what most of what people do. So, we don’t need to overcomplicate this thing.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah.

Justin Meissner:

When people squat, they’re like, “I want to do it right.” I’ll usually jokingly say, “Then just do it right.” Don’t overthink it. Your body will probably want to do it right, it’s you thinking about it that’s going to make you do it wrong. Unless you’ve never thought about it, in which case, then they have no motor unit recruitment to understand what they’re going to do, but-

Steven Sashen:

Well then, they just need to slow it down. Again, the awareness thing, I think, is so critical because if you slow it down, if you feel like you don’t know how to do it and you don’t force yourself too much, slow it down, use a lightweight or no load at all and just pay attention, you’re developing that skill of being able to pay attention to proprioceptive role which is so underused in our daily life.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. I always tell people, if you really want to get good at an exercise, learn to do one rep over the course of 60 seconds and you’ll be the best at that exercise because you spent so much time in every tiny little aspect of it.

Steven Sashen:

Every little movement. Yeah, boy, you just gave me a flashback. I used to do 60-second pullups. They’re utterly miserable and wonderful at the exact same time.

Justin Meissner:

Yes. Yes, they’re quite the experience.

Steven Sashen:

Yes. There’s like three different points where you find yourself wondering, “What am I doing?” and then you’re like-

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. Right. You’re like, “Why did I start this?” But now, you can’t stop.

Steven Sashen:

Exactly. This is a really horrible idea that I love. I’ve never thought to do that with certain exercises just because they seem like they’d be too terrifying, but that’s only because I have this tendency, and maybe it’s just a sprinter’s tendency to do a little too much too soon just to try to prove a point especially now that I’m 59. You know, if I can’t do stuff like a 39-year-old, it makes me very unhappy.

 

I was literally, I was looking at this workout from 1912 earlier and it was saying only elite competitive athletes can do this one. I’m going, “Oh, I got to do that.”

Justin Meissner:

Right. That’s sold.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. You talked me right into. I’m going to try that one. Not the one two stages earlier. That’s probably what I should be doing at least first until I see if I can do the last one. But, no, I just want to try that last one.

Justin Meissner:

Right.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. In fact, that’s actually been the hardest thing for me about getting older, is listening to those things in my head where it says, “Yeah, you can just do that,” and just ignoring it. Or taking that as like, as a sprinter, I got good knowing that when I have the thought, “Alright, I’ll just do one more,” that’s my time to leave the track. But there’s so many domains in my life where I don’t have that skill yet to walk away. Hopefully I get smart. Honestly, this conversation has given me a lot to play with where I can be smarter and still have that same kind of fun that I’m looking for by doing the best I can.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah. I think you can definitely still explore movement. It’s just, as we age, it changes how the exploration is, right? And so, it’s exciting in the sense that it’s new exploration, right?

Steven Sashen:

Yeah.

Justin Meissner:

Because there’s things you could do, and now you can’t so now you get to find, “Well, what now can I do?”

Steven Sashen:

Yes. Yeah. Funny … I mean, look, I love squatting heavy weights and I love dead lifting heavy weights. I’ve also got a broken spine and it’s a bad idea. Finding the things to do instead that are similarly satisfying is actually a really interesting exploration. I will confess, I bought one machine explicitly for that. It’s a reverse hyperextension. I love that machine because it gives me those things that I was looking for from squatting without having to put my spine in a compromised position.

Justin Meissner:

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I do enjoy fitness tools. Because people always ask me, “So, do you never use machines?” “Well, I don’t own any because they’re expensive, so I don’t use them.” But can you use them for cool things? Definitely. There’s really cool things you can do with anything. Like if you don’t have stuff at home, if you can’t afford a home gym, great. I guarantee you can find a log somewhere you can find a rock. You probably got boxes in your garage you need to clean out. Like, go do stuff and you’ll find things that will be exercise.

Steven Sashen:

Yeah. Yeah. By the way, I mean, post COVID there’s, I think … I knew guys who owned a store selling fitness equipment and they couldn’t keep stuff in stock. I’m predicting in six months, there’s going to be a deluge of stuff on Craigslist for pennies on the dollar.

Justin Meissner:

Yes, and then I will buy them.

Steven Sashen:

Exactly. You read my mind. Well, dude, this has been a ton of total pleasure. I just want to thank you once again. I hope people do come and check out what you’re doing because there’s obviously lots of ways that people can benefit, and keep me posted about that. Let me just sign off … Anything last before I do the sign off?

Justin Meissner:

No. I mean, as always, I always tell people your body’s capable of doing way more than you think it is. Just be ready to explore those things and not afraid to try new things.

Steven Sashen:

Brilliant. So, for everyone else, thank you again. If you want to find out previous episodes go again t. If you have any questions or recommendations of people you think should be on the show or if you just want to tell me that you think my head is somewhat firmly placed up my butt or anything in between, I don’t care, if you want to talk, drop me an email move@jointhemovementmovement.com. What else? You know when you get to that site, you’ll find all the previous episodes, the place you can engage, ways you can give us a thumbs up or like or subscribe. Or hit the bell button, the bell icon on YouTube, to find out about new episodes. You can opt in to find out about upcoming episodes. I will learn how to speak before the next time I do this. I guess most importantly, just go out and have fun and live life feet first.

 

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