Today we are talking back issues. The odds are that you have either had back pain in the past or at some point in the future you will experience some sort of back issue. It has become somewhat of an epidemic in our country and I am going to share with you my very own experience of dealing with back pain. I appreciate you taking the time to listen to today's episode and I also hope you can take the time to leave us a review on iTunes!
Curious to find out more about Athletes' Potential? Reach out to us at www.athletespotential.com.
On this week's episode we are joined by Kristin Oja of STAT Wellness here in Atlanta.
Kristin obtained her Doctor of Nursing Practice, Masters of Science in Nursing with a Family Nurse Practitioner focus and is a Registered Nurse. She is also an entrepreneur, functional and lifestyle medicine guru, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and lover of everything health and wellness! Passionate about taking a Personalized Medicine approach, Kristin focuses on uncovering the root cause of chronic illness and disease. Taking into account a patient's lifestyle, diet, genetics, environment, and stress, each treatment plan is unique and individualized.
We discuss why she chose this career, her practice, and much more on this episode!
Hey, what's going on everybody. Doc Danny Matta here with the Active Atlanta podcast, and this is episode number one. So first of all, thanks so much for listening. If you have worked with us in the past and you're listening to the podcast, I appreciate your willingness to spend time with us. If you've never spent time with me or any of our staff at Athletes' Potential, thanks for listening to the podcast.
I hope that you listen every week and my goal is for you to learn a ton about how you can really take care of yourself and live a really active, fulfilled life that's healthy, pain-free, and enjoy the people around you.
What I want to do in this first episode is really give you a clear idea of what I'm going to be talking about, who I'm going to be talking to, who this is for, and also, why the heck would you want to listen to me or any of the people that I'm going to be interviewing and sharing their approaches with you on this podcast.
So, first of all, just so we can save you a bunch of time, if this doesn't sound like you, no need to listen to the podcast. This podcast is for people that are trying to stay active, pain-free, healthy, and live a very active life around their family, their friends, and they look at their health as an investment. They want to actually be healthy, they want to be able to use their body long-term, and what we see is there's really two options: you either don't put the right things nearby and put the right context around what you're doing in your day-to-day life. Or you do, and the way that you look at long-term changes. It's a difference between somebody that's 90 years old, picking up their grandkids and somebody who's 90 years old, having to get helped out of a chair.
And sometimes, there's things that happen that are unavoidable, but what we want to do is give our body the best chance, the best chance to be pain-free, active, and really enjoy the one vehicle we have in life for as long as we possibly can. And we do know that these, decisions that we make on a day-to-day basis, well, before we're in our late years, really dictates what our life looks like at that point and to give you an idea of where I come from with this.
So, I've been a physical therapist for around 10 years at this point, and you know, my story is very similar to many of the people in our profession, and it takes a little bit of a turn a couple of years after I got started in the profession.
So what happened was I joined the army in 2007, and I stayed in until 2014. So I was a physical therapist in the army, directly attached to an infantry brigade, for a good number of those years where I was actually the person in charge of injury, treatment, injury prevention, and what they call it, human performance optimization.
So that meant that I was the strength coach. I was the person that was actually helping develop, certainly conditioning, models, training plans, things that people are going to be following to hopefully be healthy, but also not to get hurt along the way and be able to do their job, which is a difficult thing.
When you're talking about programming and training soldiers that are really going to be in austere environments and carrying heavy loads, and doing a lot of physical tasks that sometimes are unknown at the time. So for me, what happened was I started to really invest a lot of time and energy in learning this sort of hybrid strain conditioning as well as clinical skill sets.
When I left that job, I was put back into a hospital situation. So for me, like it's very common for physical therapists to be in hospitals or clinics. I'm not always attached to infantry brigades in the army. And when I got reassigned from Honolulu to Columbus, Georgia, I was put into a clinical setting, a traditional clinical setting where I was seeing both soldiers and I was seeing dependents and retirees.
So really running the gamut from a six year old kid, that's a competitive soccer player with an ankle sprain to a 90 year old World War II vet that was trying to get over a fall that he may have had. And what I started to do was look at applying the same principles of this hybrid strain of conditioning and clinical skillset that I had developed working with this infantry brigade with everybody across, across the gamut from the six year old, all the way to this 90 year old and everybody in between.
What I started to see was people who would make dramatic changes, dramatic changes in their functionality, in the achievement of their goals that they had, which many people are the same: they want to be more active, they want to do more of the things physically that they like to do, they want to be in less pain, and they want to be able to enjoy the people around them and the time that they have with them.
For me, this model, that we sort of established whenever I was in the army, I wanted to be able to take that model and share it with the civilian world, with the the city of Atlanta, where we decided we were going to move after I decided to leave active duty with the army.
So in 2014, We packed everything up, moved from Columbus, Georgia to Atlanta. I took a job also teaching for another group where I was teaching the same concept of movement and mobility and, and self care. And I ended up having an opportunity to teach internationally for a few years and really get in front of thousands of coaches and clinicians, and that information that we've shared, the process of teaching people how to take care of themselves and letting people invest in their own health and taking ownership in their own health, it's spread. It's something that I'm so happy to see. It has caught on it with what we do in Atlanta and plenty of other people that are doing similar things.
And what I really want to be able to do is not just share what we've learned, which there is an element of this where there's going to be topic-based episodes, where we're going to talk to you about, "Hey, if you have back pain, what are the first few things you can do?" "What do you want to think about?" "What do you want to be aware of?"
But not just that, I want to be able to highlight some of the people that we know that do amazing job, an amazing job with their specialty in the City of Atlanta. And over the last five years, I've gotten to know quite a few people that I just think are world-class.
And there's a lot more of them out here in Atlanta that I just don't know yet, but we will find them and let them tell their story, their philosophy and share it with you. And the goal is for us to have a medium where everyone can start to take better ownership of their health, of their wellness and, you know, we live in an interesting time. My grandfather grew up on a farm and he's 94. He has fought in multiple wars, he's a tough human being, but my life growing up and his life growing up, they look very different, very, very different.
And sometimes what happens is, with modern technology, things are more convenient. We start to move less and less and less, and we don't have to be as physically active for our profession. Many of us have gone the route where we've gotten professional degrees. We are, your profession, but that typically leads to: more educated you are, the more money you make, the less physical movement you typically have to do for your job day to day.
Think of it. If you were sitting here, listening to this, and you're an attorney, you've gone to school for a long time and you pretty much sit and read stuff all day and/ or prep to do things in court or whatever it is that you do. If you're an accountant, you sit and you look at numbers or you project financials.
If you're a physician, you're sitting here with patients, you're doing notes, maybe you're in surgeries, but there's very, very little active movement going on. You want to see somebody that has an active job. Watch an arborist, take a tree down and think to yourself, "how does that compare to my day today?"
You know, how does it compare to the things that you do as a catch 22 in our world, where the more education we have, the more professional training we have, the less there's a physical requirement for us in a day to day basis. And for many of us, we live a very sedentary lifestyle.
Now let's define that for a second.
So, a sedentary lifestyle is based on the standards of Australia. When I was down there, I had a interesting conversation with a physio that was involved with their national health care. He said they define sedentary lifestyle as anybody that's sitting more than six hours per day. It's one of their top health concerns just to help cut down on sedentary lifestyle.
Now, if you're sitting here right now and you think that, maybe I don't sit six hours a day, you gotta count commute, you gotta count time with the office, sit down and watching TV, sitting down, eating bathroom time. For some of you maybe is a little longer than the average. You got to add those minutes in as well.
Six hours is the standard, and for many of us, we accumulate that in half a day, between your commute and sitting by the time that you get through lunch. Now here's the really shocking thing about what's considered a sedentary lifestyle. No matter how hard you train outside of that, it's almost impossible to negate the negative long-term effects of having a sedentary lifestyle on things like metabolic disease.
And we know that those are things that long-term cause catastrophic issues in your health and things that we want to be able to affect and change. This is just one piece of the things we want to talk about, and to really give you an idea, there's sort of four key areas that we want to bring experts in.
And do topic based, heavily researched information, topic based episodes for you in these four key categories. Number one is movements. We kind of talked a little bit about this with sedentary lifestyle, but movement is just quantity of movement. So how much are you moving in the day is exercise, non-exercise based movement. Quality of movements. So how well do you move? How well can you get in and out of positions? Do you struggle to get off the ground when you're down there with your kids, do you need help from somebody to get back up? If you're having to sit, or they call it now, criss cross applesauce thing is what my daughter calls it, you know, being politically correct. Can you sit like that for five minutes and then get back up without your legs being asleep or without your hips killing you? Are you strong enough to get back up off the ground, all these things go into basic things of movement, quality and quantity.
Number two, what are you putting in your body now? I'm not saying you have to eat like a monk and you never have a gram of sugar in your life. What I'm saying is we have to understand the basic tenants of nutrition and what we put in our body and what that means to our long-term health.
And you can make a strong statement that this is one of the most important things that people can do from a long-term health and wellness standpoint. So, basic nutrition, basic food, information of like what we should be eating, what those things are, how much we should eat, how often should you be eating, fluid intake, all of these things.
What are the basics of nutrition from there? It's stress management and guys, I think this is where we can really get some really interesting people on board and have them share their opinions. And when we look at stress management, many of us deal with this.
I don't know a single person that doesn't deal with with stress in their life. If you have a few kids and you have a hectic job, you have a mortgage to pay, you got taxes, the car breaks down, you have to get a tree taken out of your backyard, all these things, they just lead to this sort of stressful environment that if you don't understand how to manage, may stress yourself. And have a basic, a basic framework of how to actually stay healthy, manage stress in a really positive way and not letting that spill over into your relationships with your friends and your family and ruin, in many cases, those relationships.
This is stress management and our ability to actually cope with our own emotions, our own stress levels that we're going to have on a day-to-day basis. And many of us are really, really bad at this, and it's something that we usually just totally neglect. We think it's "oh, no, it is what it is, it's just like part of my life, I just have a stressful life." Well, maybe, but there's also probably some really, really, fairly straight forward strategies that we can start to implement on a habitual basis.
They're going to help you manage those things and then negate much of that from these long-term negative effects associated with that. Now, the last core tenant that we're going to talk about is going to be sleep. So sleep is one of these things that I don't know why it's such a difficult topic for people to get a grasp on for them to really start to optimize their sleep, to start to get healthy sleep.
I had a sleep physician telling me this one time, he goes, "Danny, it would be like me trying to talk people into having sex. More like it should be something everybody likes and would want to do more of."
But yet nobody wants to focus on sleep. Nobody wants to try to get better at sleep. Nobody wants to actually like spend the time in bed, have nighttime routine, set the stage to actually get meaningful sleep. And for many of you listening to this, if you have children, firsthand, if your kids get a bad night's sleep or your kids go to bed late, they wake up early, whatever it is.
I mean, they're little turds, you know, they're a pain in the butt during that time and we are just adult versions of that. We can control our emotions better, but if you really look at what's happening to us from a neurologic standpoint, in terms of our efficiency, our health, our ability to recover from injuries and from sickness, things that really can cause a longterm negative implications on our health and wellness for cancer, neurologic diseases, our body's immune system, and hormone system, in many cases, is resetting and rebuilding indexing things, healing ourselves.
When we're asleep during these certain depths of sleep that many of us do not prioritize enough to even get to. So we have nights for months and years where you're asleep, but you're not really hitting levels of sleep that are beneficial for you, or maybe you're not even there long enough, or maybe you're just sitting there watching Game of Thrones for a few hours before you go to bed. And then, you're so riled up from watching the last episode of whatever, that you can't actually fall asleep.
And then now you're in bed for a long time, but you're not actually sleeping now. I'm not going to harp on this anymore because we're definitely going to get into some basics of these things and ways for you guys to really start to set the stage, to have some quick wins in your health and your wellness and sleep is one of those things I'm very passionate about because for years I neglected my own sleep.
When we first started our business, I got out of the army in 2014 and I don't know, some of you may have your own business. But, it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. And it was one of those things that, I had two young kids at the time, I didn't know if it was going to work.
So, my answer was, I'm just going to work as hard as humanly possible. And at the time, I was still traveling internationally and across the country, teaching on movement, mobility topics, just training coaches and clinicians, and I was usually gone two, three times a month. So I was traveling a lot. I wasn't sleeping much.
I was putting a bunch of hours in over the course of about two years, I had just basically ran myself into the ground. I was tired all the time, I was short with people, I really wasn't myself. And the biggest variable that I had to change was to structure proper sleep into my day, and make it a priority, because at the time, I wasn't, and I thought it was one of those things, it's just like, "oh, it's not that important." You know, I've got other things to do, but the lack of efficiency I had because of just neglecting long-term sleep probably slowed me down more than it actually helped. And in the long run, you just can't do it.
We need to sleep. It's that simple.
And so we're going to talk about some, some basics that, you can get into in all of these areas. And like I said, some of this is gonna be topic based, some of this is going to be specialists that we know in the area, and some of, you may know people that you think are awesome and we would love to talk to them as well.
And, and we really appreciate it. If you decided, "Hey, this person would be amazing," if you can line up a time to talk to them and share their story and their unique knowledge, just email us info at athletespotential.com. It's the best place to send that and just let us know who they are and you can make us a warm introduction or share their contact information so that we can get in touch with them.
Because our goal, really, is to highlight all the people that we've met, that we think can be really helpful, and I look at it as helping you create this cohort of people that you can call on and utilize when need be.
To create this ecosystem of health and wellness providers that have your best interest at heart and want to help you really stay healthy, investing in your body and be able to really enjoy it long term.
Because I think that maybe I'm a bit biased compared to many other people because I've seen the gamut of things that have come through my clinic and hospitals that I've been in, and really nasty stuff. Some of these nasty neurologic diseases that we know are strongly connected to, for instance, gut health and stress management, these really bad, musculoskeletal issues, where people have long-term arthritic changes in multiple joint replacements. And then they lose their ability to be independent.
And at that point, it's honestly kind of a sad existence, and I know for many of you that are listening to this, I like to think that you're probably more aware of your health than the average person.
And that's the kind of people that we want to help.
We want to help people that want to be an outlier. I don't want to just be the average person that once you get to a certain age, it's just, "Okay, well, I'm just going to sit in this recliner and wait to die." And as morbid as that sounds, as bad as that sounds, it's reality for a lot of people. I want to be the guy that's 90 years old, picking his grandkid up, and walking around with them at that point. But active, enjoying my family, enjoying my friends around me, and still enjoying the world around me as well, and you can't do that if you're dependent on other people.
And having a long-term perspective on your health and wellness, not as a cost, as an investment. And we're all so quick, to get a new vehicle. We're so quick to get the, you know, "Let me get this new BMW, switch it out for the old model because it's got some new bells and whistles."
When you get one body, that's it. One body. You're one vehicle in life.
You can get a new car every month if that's what you decided you want to do. If you have the money to do so, you can get a new part in your body. It's called a joint replacement and it's a difficult thing to do. I don't recommend doing it. If you really want it to get scared off from doing it, just video search, "hip replacement," or "knee replacement."
You'll never want that to happen to you. And I've sat in on these surgeries and trust me, I don't want some guy dislocating my hip, cutting a piece of it out, hammering another piece in, and then suturing my leg back up, and then having to be on the receiving end of all the rehab that goes into just getting somebody back to a normal state.
And in many cases, those things are avoidable. Sometimes they're not, and there's great surgeons that can actually do those surgeries really well when it's necessary, but our body is designed to be around for a hundred years without those things happening, without us needing these additional, certain reasons unless they're absolutely necessary.
But, if we set the stage to be healthy, just to manage stress, eat good food most of the time, to sleep, and to move well and to move often, we're independent, we're healthy, we're happier because we get a chance to enjoy the people around us.
And that's really what it comes down to. In my opinion, health is a vehicle to get you there and allow you to enjoy whatever it is that you want. And we have a unique opportunity to see these amazing people and what they're capable of, and things that people say they shouldn't be doing at their age.
And for them, just to say, "what the status quo, what's normal. I don't want to be that." You know, "I want to be more than that. I want to enjoy my life on my terms, you know, and I want my body to be as healthy as humanly possible, along the way so that I don't have to limit myself for the experiences that I have or the time I have with other people."
And that's the goal of this podcast, and frankly, that's the goal of our practice. When I got out of the army five years ago and decided to open our business, it was something that I didn't know if it would work. I told my dad, I told my family, here's my plan: I'm going to get out of the army. I had been in for around seven years and I was looking at getting promoted to Major, really, in the next one to two years. And I told them, I said, "look, I don't want to be in this environment anymore. There's something else that I'm supposed to do."
"I'm going to move to Atlanta. I'm going to take it. I'm going to take a position, teaching the stuff that I'm so passionate about. And I'm going to open a practice in a CrossFit gym on the west side of Atlanta, in a room that has no windows, in an area where I know nobody, I'm not from here. And I'm going to work with people in a setting in which I'm going mesh this clinical and strength skillset, and I'm not going to directly take insurance."
And my dad and many of my friends with good reason told me it was probably a bad idea. And as I say it out loud, I think to myself, "yeah, it sounds like a bad idea," but I just felt that there were enough people out there that wanted to actually do things the right way, not do things based on your insurance company.
And let's be honest. These people don't care about you. They don't care about me. They want to be as profitable as possible, give you the hardest time possible. So they have to pay for the least amount of, insurance claims that are out there and pay all of their investors and stockholders as much as they can.
And that doesn't mean, okay. That that's the right thing for your health. And because of the context of our healthcare system, we have to decide to take our own health into our own hands and look for the right choices from people that are doing things based on what's best for the client, best for the patient, not what insurance says you're supposed to do, or what insurance says you're supposed to be able to get reimbursed for.
Great example of this is a friend of mine recently went to a podiatrist for a foot fracture. He'd been trained to run a marathon. Scan came back clean. He just had a little bit of soft tissue issue going on there, but he was a little bit worried about it and turned out it was fine.
The podiatrist tells him, "Hey, I want you to wear this brace." My buddy goes, "well, I'm probably not going to wear it." And he goes, "well, just take it anyway. Just in case it gives him this brace." Two months later, he gets a bill from this group for $850. And as he looks at the office visit, which is like $400 and the brace that he was given by this guy that told him, "Hey, just take it anyway."
$450 for a foot brace that he didn't need anymore.
Why? Because that guy is getting reimbursed for it, and that is not an ethical decision. That's something that this person probably has to do because that's what insurance is going to reimburse for. So anybody that comes to there, with foot pain, probably gets one of these dumb ass braces that nobody's going to wear in the first place. And this is where we're at with insurance. It's a crappy place to be. It's a reason why we're as transparent as we humanly possibly can be. So if you work with us, this is the context I'm working with you.
I don't care what your insurance company says I can and cannot do, or I'm going to get reimbursed for. We follow our clinical practice act to the letter, but we do what's best for our clients. Not what insurance companies say we should get reimbursed for because in many cases, they do not match up with what you should actually be doing.
And that is an important thing as a consumer to realize that you have choices and those choices really should be in prevention in stopping some of these really nasty, longterm diseases and problems that can limit your body's ability to move, but neurologically limits you, but also can put you in a terrible, financial position that accumulates, and you either are proactive about it, or you get surprised by it one day.
And we just don't know because genetics loads the gun and habits pull the trigger, and I had a doc tell me that one time-and I thought it was so striking-and he said, genetics load the gun, habits and lifestyle pull the trigger. I mean, I guess you can kind of test for this stuff at this point, but lifestyle habits, we just don't know how many bad choices we can make before that trigger gets pulled.
What we want to do is help you really live as healthy a life as you possibly can avoid as much as you possibly can in terms of the negative things and be able to enjoy all the positive things that we know that we all value so much in life. And I hope that this podcast's first episode, gives you an idea of what you can expect from my interviews that I'm going to do with our special guests, with the topic-based episodes that we're going to do.
And that's, the goal: is really help you live as long as healthy and happy and actively as we possibly can. By helping you understand how to create a framework of investing in yourself and doing the right things for yourself on a day-to-day basis, it creates these habitual changes that lead, really, to true, long-term health.
So guys, that is it. I'm excited for this one. I've had two other podcasts, one I still do. Another one, I have a couple of hundred episodes underneath my belt with training/conditioning coaches, and I'm excited to get back into this and share this with the Atlanta area.
Atlanta is not my home, but it really is now. I've never been anywhere longer than we have been in Atlanta. I grew up in a military family. I really never lived anywhere more than about three years. I've been here for five, so this is our roots. At this point, I may not be from Atlanta originally, but how many of you probably aren't. I don't know many people that are from Atlanta that still live in Atlanta. If you do, you're like a unicorn. You're very rare here, but regardless, I'm excited for this one.
Thanks so much for listening and as always guys, thanks for staying, thank you so much for listening to the active Atlanta podcast and we'll catch you next time.
Dr. Danny and staff's views on performance improvement, injury prevention and sometimes other random thoughts.