Shrugged Collective

Barbell Shrugged —  Learning to Appreciate Your Body w/ Jen Esquer —  310

Jen Esquer, DPT, PT, has been on a ruthless ongoing journey to learn about the body and movement since she was a child. She was a professional gymnast until age 16, studied yoga and pilates, studied physiotherapy, and is continuously exploring and learning more . is creator of and The Optimal Body Preventing Pain & Injury Optimizing Lives.

Dr. Jen is also the creator of The Mobility Method, which is designed to give the everyday person the opportunity to take themselves through a basic screening process and self-diagnose limitations. In addition, there are various modules to help individuals address their own personal needs, whether it be their neck, back, shoulders, etc.

In this episode, we learn why the neutral spine doesn’t exist in the real world, why foam rolling gets misunderstood, how much of training has become robotic, why you need to have more appreciation for your body, and much more. Enjoy!

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Developing awareness in movement

Jen Esquer is not your everyday physical therapist. Jen left her clinical PT job to pursue her own outside the box approach for helping people eliminate pain, gain mobility, and giving them more freedom in their movement practice and life. She is well-known for her Instagram challenges and concise, informative clips on various mobility techniques.

Jen’s approach stems from her ability to connect with her clients. She encourages a deep level of mindfulness and the development of awareness in movement.

“Why aren’t we moving into restriction, moving into our body in better ways to prevent injury, so that you can go kill your workout, so you can squat lower and heavier.” — Dr. Jen Esquer


  • Gymnastics and Pilates —  Gave Jen a solid foundation in her understanding of how the body works in different positions, as well as the importance of the core.
  • Appreciation is a huge part of the mentality that Jen aims to instill in her clients — She is constantly encouraging them to recognize the things that they can do, which helps to set the stage for a mindful approach to movement and mobility.
  • The neutral spine doesn’t exist in the real world — Jen encourages people to explore movement beyond the “neutral spine” and to develop strength and stability in “less stable” positions. As it turns out, in a squat for example, even when the spine is thought to be “neutral”, it is actually flexing to at least 23 degrees – which means it’s not neutral, but it’s not a bad thing!
  • Much of training has become robotic — Studies show that individuals who can demonstrate a wide movement vocabulary are much less injury prone in sport compared to those who move in a technical or robotic fashion.
  • Foam rolling gets misunderstood — Foam rolling definitely has its place, Jen is a huge supporter, but she disagrees with some of the fallacies around it. Namely the idea that all tissue needs to be smashed to loosen or that scar tissue can be “broken up”. Most of the benefits come from the muscles learning to relax.

“Touch is amazing! Do you need to DIG into the tissue? I don’t think so.” — Dr. Jen Esquer

Connect with Dr. Jen Esquer

Doug Larson Fitness

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Train smart,

Mike, Doug and Anders

Mike Bledsoe

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