Matt Zanis is a physical therapist with a Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Duke University. In this multi-part series, Matt discusses how properly exercise recovery can improve both your progress in CrossFit.

There are many factors that go into the equation regarding strength and conditioning, along with a physical therapy plan of care. The key to solving this equation is your central nervous system (CNS) and understanding your own unique recovery needs. In this series, I will discuss some of the science behind CNS fatigue and over training, along with a number of factors behind understanding your own nervous system.

Many of the patients I treat as a physical therapist are involved in high intensity training like CrossFit or are firefighters and police men and women who put their lives on the line each and every day. These realms are so diverse. With increased diversity comes greater demand of the CNS since there is greater adaptation required. These individuals are similar in many ways including the constant change of job and environment related stressors like training programs, inconsistent sleep patterns, poor diet, and psychological challenges. However, each group still requires their own unique recovery needs.

These types of individuals are usually Type A or highly active most days of the week (either due to training schedule, job requirements, or both). What I try to convey to these patients is the understanding that unless you are properly recovered, training over and over again only slows down the whole strength gaining process. People come to me complaining, or boasting sometimes, about training heavy complex movement patterns day after day with some of these training sessions occurring less than 12 hours a part. They wonder why they are getting hurt or not making any progress. The answer resides within a complex interaction between our brain and body.

Many of us also forget that there are other stress influences in our lives other than exercise (money, kids, lack of sleep, poor diet, work, and relationships) that tax our bodies both mentally and physically. Continuous attention is needed in all aspects of our lives.

About Matthew Zanis, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, CSCS, Cert-DN

While completing his Bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training at the University of Pittsburgh in 2011, Matt worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball organization. During that time, he was accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Duke University in Durham, NC.

While studying at Duke, he attained his Olympic Weightlifting certification through USA weightlifting. Following graduation, Matt moved to the Phoenix area and completed his board certification in orthopedics and is currently a fellow in training through the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists. Matt specializes in analyzing movement patterns, improving mobility, sports specific strength and conditioning, and alleviating pain through manual therapy, mobilizations/manipulations, and dry needling. He also holds the CrossFit Mobility certification. Matt is currently working at T.O.P.S. Physical Therapy in Phoenix, AZ, and is passionate about helping prevent injury in athletes, correcting motor patterns, & rehabilitating patients after surgeries.  His area of focus is working with firefighters, police, military, and within the CrossFit community