Squishing and Unsquishing

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Squishing and Unsquishing

Samantha Faulhaber





Here’s how this thought bubble trail went down:

  • Walking Maggie (my dog) without my phone.
  • Non-leash hand is free to swing more than usual.
  • Begin to feel fluid in my hand.


Remember from Katy Bowman and possibly the book The Last Great Walk that when your arms are allowed to have natural arm swing (read: not holding crap in your hands all the time like your phone – I’m just as guilty!) your hands swell up a bit from centrifugal force sending fluid down to the end of the limb.


Recall from Overcoming Gravity (get the 2nd edition) author Steven Low that the more highly vascularized tissues are the faster they recover from damage. (It goes muscles, bones (!), nervous system, tendons, ligaments, cartilage). More fluid exchange – more healing. Swing arm harder in hope I overcome my texting and scrolling overuse with delicious fluid resources.


Recall from lots of resources (FRC, Todd Hargrove at least) but probably first from Bowman again that lymph does not have a pump like the heart does, it is reliant on mechanical stimuli (read: movement) to get fluid exchange going. A lot of lymph nodes are balled up in your hip creases, armpits, and neck area – all places it should be almost hard not to move frequently, though your backup camera and all the other little conveniences that are killing you by making movement optional may have something to say about that.


Realize we are just sacs of increasingly smaller and smaller sacs of fluid that operate largely on hydrostatic pressure – the squishing and unsquishing of those fluid sacs.

And everything you do creates squish somewhere. Stuff that gets squished regularly is healthier than stuff that doesn’t get squished regularly, and all the stuff works better when all of it gets squished often. Annnnnd unsquished.

If you only exert squish without unsquish you get tissue remodeling [at a faster rate – enough frequency of inputs will all gradually change tissue construction]. Nervous system adaptations occur first, followed by physical adaptations to the lifestyle you adopt because your body adapts to the forces that are pressed on it. This is what people are talking about when they say sitting is the new smoking and other crap. Being still is the factor I care about, not the sitting per se.

Standing water add-on theory – imagine stuff that doesn’t get squished. Think of our universal distrust of standing water. Why? It isn’t fresh, there’s no movement and therefore not a lot of life that we have interest in involving ourselves with. When you don’t move, you don’t get the exchange of pressure and relief of pressure (squish/unsquish), and the fluid doesn’t get sucked out of there and replenished. It doesn’t move. It feels stagnant.

Stuff is affected by depth of squish! Applied pressure is felt differently at different levels, so manual therapists that know their salt take that into account when applying pressure, otherwise you have a guy or gal just raking you over and making you think massages are supposed to hurt and other nonsense.

“Hundreds of papers, including some 400 led by or co-authored by Bissell, have since provided critical clues showing that signals from physical forces outside a cell could dramatically alter a cell’s function.” (You can click this if you’re a nerd.)

So how do we squish things regularly and healthily? Move all of your joints around every single day, multiple times per day, and mindfully so at least once per day, in as many ranges of motion as you can. You have control over your own destiny. If you walk on uneven surfaces while carrying something, pull something out of the ground, and climb a tree daily you would probably cover all the ranges you need. Still feels amazing to inwardly focus first thing in the morning though even if you do all that. Tell the world you’re important via the time you prioritize getting your morning squish on.

I’ll leave you with a Bowman-authored excerpt from “Movement Matters” and advise you to buy “Move Your DNA”, also by Katy Bowman, then do FRC principles to further bridge the gap between your biology and the environment you live in.

“I’d like to suggest, at least in part, a solution: you need to move more than you do right now. You not only need to move more, you must also move better. You not only need to move more and better, you must also move with other people, and move through, around, and over some natural terrain. If you can’t convince your tribe to move more, you must create a new tribe. Which often requires (ironically) that you move. Move your job, or move jobs, move homes, or at least move furniture around or out of your home. Your contribution towards a solution to many problems, whether they’re related to illness or finances or loneliness or boredom or feeding the underfed or freeing the oppressed, can often be “move more.” Small and large issues alike can feel overwhelming, but often this is a result of trying to solve problems without changing anything about the life that created them. And so, allow me to show you how to move, for a better body, a better life, and a better world.”

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