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Smoldering Setback: A Firefighter’s Journey to Stay Healthy

For Matt Yost, being in shape isn't just part of his healthy lifestyle. His job and people’s lives depend on it. 

As a firefighter with the City of Charlotte, this triathlete and former college athlete makes physical activity and health part of his daily regimen.  Matt’s regular workouts, including teaching indoor cycling at Flywheel Charlotte, help keep him in shape for job-related skills and training like pulling hoses and dummies in full gear, lifting heavy hose packs on his shoulders and climbing stairs.

Just like an athlete, a firefighter has to be properly equipped and skilled, and be in peak condition to handle the physical nature and quick reaction time the job requires. Handling critical situations, whether fighting fires, medical emergencies or other accidents, means firefighters needs to constantly maintain and improve their strength, stamina, balance, coordination and speed.

When he suffered a severe ankle sprain, torn ligaments and a head injury while responding to a call several years ago, Matt faced an uphill battle to maintain the physical condition he needed to be efficient in his job. His complete ankle reconstruction surgery with Dr. Sebold involved reattaching ligaments to the bone on both the inner and outer ankle, a very complex process.

“I had to get back to normal as quickly and safely as I could, so we started with physical therapy at OrthoCarolina, getting my range of motion and strength back,” he says. “I had to recover enough to be able to fight fire at the fitness level I was used to before the accident.”

Matt’s PT included aquatic therapy on the underwater treadmill at OrthoCarolina’s Eastover office, which allowed for early motion and strength-building without interfering with the healing process. He worked diligently through the therapy process, made a full recovery and continues to fight fires, teach cycling classes, and participate in other physical activities he enjoys such as basketball, running, FlyBarre and strength training.

“I’m fortunate to be able to serve the community in the capacity that I do, stay in shape, and do work that I love. I don’t take any of that, or my health, for granted,” he says.  “Optimal fitness will vary from person to person, but overall it’s a combination of lifestyle, nutrition and habits, and definitely physical fitness.”

June is Men’s Health Month. Anchored by a Congressional health education program, the observance is celebrated nationwide with a goal to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encouragement of early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Watch for more men’s health stories this month, or share yours by emailing logan.stewart@orthocarolina.com.  


Matt is a great subject to use in your article. It is good for the public to recognize the constant physical training that these firefighters must pursue in order to maintain the fitness that is required for the job. This training must be an important part of their life.
- Judy Blair
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