Shawn Sherman & The Square 1 System For Optimal Mobility


As a big fan of bodywork for performance enhancement and general healthspan and lifespan benefits…

…I was intrigued when heard about a new bodywork technique that claims to repattern your body neurologically and retrain your broken muscles for optimal mobility.

I was contacted about Shawn Sherman—the founder of the Square 1 System—by a man named Adam McDowell, a coach and trainer who reached out through his Instagram. After looking into Shawn’s work, I thought I ought to try it for myself and flew both Adam and Shawn out to my house in Spokane, Washington for a few days.

Shawn Sherman earned his Exercise and Sport Science degree from Penn State University and operates a private practice in Western Springs, Illinois, outside of Chicago. Shawn holds numerous industry certifications and therefore understands what and how the conventionalists think and believe. Over the past 25 years, Shawn’s understanding of movement has evolved from that of an apprentice level to a level of mastery by continually seeking answers to his questions. Because he now intimately and thoroughly understands the most basic components of movement, Shawn brings an unparalleled perspective to the table. Not only does he consistently deliver absolutely amazing results to his clients, but he also teaches his students to be able to do the same. Additionally, Shawn has consulted with hundreds of elite athletes from professional organizations including the United States Olympic Team, the Chicago Cubs, the San Francisco Giants, and many more.

Shawn Sherman’s Square 1 System addresses the deep source behind why your body compensates, bringing your movement system closer to where it was designed to be. Most clients experience positive results within the first session, with no pain and minimal soreness. The Square 1 System typically yields much longer-lasting “effects” than conventional approaches to pain. Because you can’t actually make a body impervious to all forms of stress, Shawn says that future “breakdowns” are just part of being a living, breathing human being, but with this form of bodywork, you can maintain health and mobility with periodic maintenance.

After a big feast at my house (it’s standard practice to put the Traeger Grill to work with guests in town) Shawn worked his magic on me for a couple of hours with a form of therapy that is definitely unlike anything I ever talked about before on a podcast. While it was an awesome experience and I learned a lot, Shawn’s approach is kind of hard to explain, so I’m including the video below to give you a firsthand look at what we did together.

During my discussion with Shawn Sherman, you’ll discover:

-What is the Square 1 System?…05:30

-Pre-treatment checks on Ben the patient…12:30

  • Range of motion checks
  • Right leg doesn’t turn in as well as the left
  • The patient’s intuition is often incorrect
  • Quick muscle test
  • Looking for load response more than force production
  • Locomotion helps the nervous system get more organized
  • AK/CK – Applied Kinesiology/Clinical Kinesiology
  • Mimicking ground forces to find where the break is
  • Ben’s issue was the T-spine; was fixed on the spot with the test
  • Continually looking for the flaw throughout the test
  • Cervical extension is an issue

-How basic, seemingly simple patterns can cause problems…31:27

  • Closed eye squats: 70-80% of squatting is visual
  • It is not to make you squat better but to teach your brain to say “I’ve got this, I can take this in stride”
  • The test is to keep on exposing you to the provoking pattern until the brain stops telling you that that movement is “not so good”
  • It’s a matter of setting up puzzles for the brain to solve
  • Patterns/skills you get with practice but doesn’t mean you need to; play with mental triggers
  • Neural systems cannot distinguish between types of stress – mechanical, emotional, thermal…

-Customizing triggers for an individual…44:06


  • Activities during the day that keep the left and right hemispheres of the brain connected
  • Once exposures are cleared, it stays that way for a long time
  • The body and the brain self-regulates
  • Eyes up and left is organizing response, eyes down and right is disorganizing response
  • It’s good to customize if you want more details but organizing the pattern does the trick most of the time
  • A simple corrective exercise is head back nasal breath/head forward nasal breath

-What is going on during corrective exercise to fix the movement…59:20

  • Reward chemicals are released/spiked-up when synapses are formed during corrective exercise
  • The vagus nerve plays a potential role
  • Other activities can be incorporated to customize the response, like foam rolling, massage…
  • It comes down to trigger or train
    • If accepted, train
    • If it is a trigger (not accepted), cannot progress until it is controlled

-Test after using functional activity equipment (bow)…1:15:02

  • Improved after corrected left eye dysfunction

-How to identify activities that produce pain…1:17:14

-And much more…

Resources mentioned in this episode:

– Shawn Sherman:

Adam McDowell @movingmuscle

– Podcasts:

– Other Resources:

Upcoming Events:

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