Active Atlanta Podcast: Episode One with Danny Matta
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 to enjoy the people around you. What I wanted 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, and who this is for. And also, why the heck would you want to listen to me or any of the people that I know 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 say 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.
There’s things that happen that are unavoidable, but what we want to do is give our body 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. We do know that these decisions that we make on a day to day basis, well before we're in our late years, really dictate what our life looks like at that point.
So, to give you an idea of where I come from with this: I've been a physical therapist for around 10 years at this point and 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. I'm 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 called Human Performance Optimization.
So that meant that I was the strength coach. I was the person that was actually helping develop strength and 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, 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. And when I left that job, I was put back into a hospital situation.
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 I got reassigned from Honolulu to Columbus, Georgia, I was put into 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 WWII vet that was trying to get over a fall that they may have had.
And what I started to do was look at applying the same principles of this hybrid strain and conditioning and clinical skill set 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 would make dramatic changes in their functionality and in the achievement of their goals that they had.
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. And 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 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, and 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 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 with 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, and it's something that I'm so happy to see. It has caught on with what we do in Atlanta and plenty of other people that are doing similar things.
What I really want to be able to do is not just, you know, 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 also want to be able to highlight some of the people that we know that do an amazing job with their specialty in the city of Atlanta. Because 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. The goal is for us to have a medium where everyone can start to take better ownership of their health, of their wellness.
You know, we live in an interesting time. My grandfather grew up on a farm and he's 94 and 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; right? And sometimes what happens is, with modern technology, things get more convenient and 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, but that typically leads to the 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're 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.
Now, if you're a physician. You're sitting here with patients, you're doing notes, you're, 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? How does it compare to the things that you do?
It's 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 on 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 an interesting conversation with a physio there who was involved with their national health care. He said that they define sedentary lifestyle as anybody that's sitting more than six hours per day. One of their top health concerns is to help cut down on sedentary lifestyle.
Now, if you're sitting here right now and you think that, “I'm borderline. Maybe I don't sit six hours a day.” You've got to count commute. You've got to get count time in the office sitting down and watching TV, sitting down and eating, bathroom time. For some of you, maybe he's 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 our 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. And 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.
Number one is movements. We kind of talked a little bit about this with a sedentary lifestyle, but movement is just the quantity of movement, so how much are you moving in the day? Is exercise/non-exercise based movement, quality of movements? 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? You don't? Do you need help from somebody to get back up? If you're having to sit where 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 like 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 tenets 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, what we should be eating, what those things are, how much should we, how often should we, fluid intake -- all of these things, or 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 stress in their life: If you have a few kids; and you have a hectic job; you have a mortgage to pay; you've 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 stress yourself, and have a basic framework of how to actually stay healthy and 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 are 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, “Oh no, it is what it is. It's just part of my life. I just have a stressful life.” Well, maybe, but there's also probably some really, really fairly straightforward 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 sleep. 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.
I had a sleep physician tell me this one time. He goes, “Danny, it would be like me trying to talk people into having sex more - iit should be something everybody likes and would want to do more of. But yet, nobody wants to focus on sleep. Nobody wants to try and get better at sleep. Nobody wants to actually spend the time in bed, have a nighttime routine, set the stage to actually get meaningful sleep.”
And, for many of you listening to this, if you have children, you know firsthand, if your kids get a bad night's sleep, or your kids go to bed late, wake up early, whatever it is, I mean, they're little turds. They're a pain in the butt during that time, and we are just adult versions of that, but we can control our emotions better.
But if you really look at what's happening to us from a neurological standpoint in terms of our efficiency, our health, our ability to recover from injuries and from sickness, things that really can cause long-term negative implications on our health and wellness for cancer, neurological 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 get to.
So we have nights where, 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. 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 trained coaches and clinicians and I was usually gone two or three times a month. So, I was traveling a lot. I wasn't sleeping much. I was putting a bunch of hours in and, over the course of about two years, I 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 just like, “Oh, it's not that important. You know, like I've got other things to do.” But, the lack of efficiency I had because of neglecting long-term sleep probably slowed me down more than it actually helped. 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 basics that you can get into, in all of these areas. And, like I said, some of this is going to 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.
We would 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 in there, their unique knowledge, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, is 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 mean, 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, like some of these nasty neurological diseases that we know are strongly connected to gut health and stress management, these really bad musculoskeletal issues where people have long-term arthritic changes in multiple joint replacements. Then, they lose their ability to be independent, and at that point it's, honestly, kind of a sad existence.
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. You know, 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 e walking around with them -- or great-grandkid or whatever, 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 physically unable to, if you're dependent on other people. And having a long-term perspective on your health and wellness, not as a cost, but as an investment.
And we're all so quick to get a new vehicle. We're so quick to get the -- I'm gonna get this new BMW, you know, switch it out for the old model cause he's got some new bells and whistles, where you get one body. That's it. One body. Your one vehicle in life.
You can get a new car every month if that's what you decide 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. And if you really want to get scared off from doing it, just YouTube “hip replacement” or “knee replacement,” and you'll never want that to happen to you. 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, 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.
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, “You know what? The status quo, what's normal, I don't want to be that. I want to be more than that. I want to enjoy my life on my terms, 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, and I said, “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, “Look, I don't want to be in this environment anymore. I think there's something else that I'm supposed to do. I'm going to move to Atlanta. I'm going to take a position teaching this stuff, that I'm so passionate about, and I'm going to open a practice in a CrossFit gym on the Westside 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 to kind of mesh this clinical and strength skill set, 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 that 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 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.
A great example of this is a friend of mine who recently went to a podiatrist. He thought he had a foot fracture. He'd been training 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,” and 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 never even wore. 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 them 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, you know, 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 what 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 long-term diseases and problems that happen that can 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 loads the gun, habits and lifestyle pull the trigger.” 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.
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 first podcast 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 gonna do. And that's the goal, is to really help you live as long and 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; to create these habitual changes that lead to true long-term health.
So, yes, that is it. I'm excited for this one. You know, I've had two other podcasts and I still do another one. I have a couple of hundred episodes underneath my belt with conditioning coaches in mind, 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, and have really never lived anywhere more than about three years. I've been here for five. So this is where our roots are at this point. I may not be from Atlanta originally, but hell, 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, 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.