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Applied Functional Science: The Core of Superior Physical Therapy

July 11, 2016

The Gray Institute (www.GrayInstitute.com) is the authentic source for Applied Functional Science, and is based on 30+ years of education, research, and development of how the body was made to function and how it truly functions. Throughout this time period, much advancement has been made with this understanding, as well as many educational venues and products to reflect not only the knowledge, but the application to better serve patients and clients in the areas of training and conditioning, injury prevention, and rehabilitation. One such advancement is the 3D Matrix Performance Series, which is a series of full‐body, functional workouts that are logically and sequentially organized for desired purposes (as reflected in each DVD title).

Prior to understanding the potent simplicity of the 3D Matrix Performance Series, it is best to appreciate the discipline of Applied Functional Science. Applied Functional Science takes into account the environments that we live in, the uniqueness of our bodies, and the intricacies of our inner being. In essence, Applied Functional Science is the appreciation of what drives us as humans to move, think, and act. The definition, according to the originator of this discipline, the Gray Institute, is as follows:

Applied Functional Science is the convergence of Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Behavioral Sciences that consists of the Principles‐Strategies‐Techniques process for functional assessment, training and conditioning, rehabilitation, and injury prevention that is practical for any and all individuals regardless of age or ability.


Applied Functional Science is based on scientific truths that serve as the foundation of the process. These principles, integrated with neuromusculoskeletal Chain Reaction™ biomechanics, lead to powerful strategies that guide the decision‐making process.

Applied Functional Science strategies are employed to properly and successfully manage transformational environments, utilizing effective and efficient techniques for desired purposes.

The key to Applied Functional Science is that it is rooted to and founded upon science (principles) – upon truth, not theories nor ideas. Truth does not change; our understanding of truth does. These principles serve as the foundation and anchor to why we do what we do (techniques). The importance is the linkage between principles and techniques, which is found in the strategies or the “transformation of the notion into the motion.” This, then, results in creating and managing environments that better serve any and all patients and clients for any and all purposes.


The 3D Matrix Performance Series is an environment, as well as an experience, in which movement facilitates the expansion of one’s functional threshold. A functional threshold can be defined as the body’s ability to successfully perform the multiple tasks required for what one needs to do and what one wants to do in life. Each edition (DVD) in the 3D Matrix Performance Series consists of multiple matrices that are blended together for intended purposes – also known as purpose‐driven exercises. A matrix itself is a three‐dimensional movement – consisting of the sagittal plane (forward and backward), frontal plane (side to side), and transverse plane (rotational) – that is organized in logical sequence.

All movement is driven, or initiated, by anatomical drivers (i.e. – hand, foot, pelvis, etc.), which in turn, elicit a Chain Reaction™ throughout the body. A common example of this is when the foot steps forward (as in walking). As the foot enters into the ground, the talus falls down and in on the calcaneus, creating subtalar eversion and abduction. This “torque conversion,” along with ankle dorsiflexion, allows the knee to then go through flexion, abduction, and internal rotation, thus leading the hip to go through flexion, adduction, and internal rotation. This sequencing of relative motions, essentially, loads the glute muscles (also known as the “power source of the body”). This goes to show that drivers, when given different tasks, load the body differently. How this is done, as well as the sequencing, becomes extremely important.

morning run

The concept of moving the body differently (using a variety of techniques / movements) in order to load the body differently for intended purposes is the heartbeat of the 3D Matrix Performance Series. Many different functional techniques / movements are utilized to better train and condition the body – such as reaches, lifts, lunges, squats, squat thrusts, push‐ups, jumps, jops, hops, etc. Also, many different positions are used throughout the techniques / movements – such as upright (bilateral and unilateral stances), kneeling, sitting, prone, supine, and side‐lying – as gravity (a key principle in Applied Functional Science) compresses the body, or loads the body, differently. What sets the 3D Matrix Performance Series apart from other arbitrary workouts is the logic that is threaded throughout each workout and the overriding necessity of including all three planes of motion. Traditional training focuses on isolated movements, where functional training focuses on integrated movements that are task‐specific.

Each edition of the 3D Matrix Performance Series is considered to be a middle‐of‐the‐road workout, meaning it can be tweaked up (made more difficult) or tweaked down (made easier) for the individual. Individuality (another key principle in Applied Functional Science) paves the way for the workout to be a fluid program, not a protocol. A prevailing strategy in Applied Functional Science is tweakology or the science of strategically and intentionally varying a specific exercise or activity for a desired purpose. This allows one to be successful at the workout, but also challenged accordingly in order to expand one’s functional threshold, as well as add even more variety to the workout.


The 3D Matrix Performance Series bridges the gap in educational DVDs offered by the Gray Institute. One of the institute’s main educational mediums is the Functional Video Digest Series, which is a series of 48 comprehensive DVDs (CEU‐accredited) that provides the most up to‐ date information for functional analysis, injury prevention, physical rehabilitation, training and conditioning, and performance enhancement. This series is heavily based on in‐depth knowing of human biomechanics and movement, and builds upon functional principles by explaining strategies and effective techniques for each individual topic. Another medium is the Fast Function Series, which is a series of 12 DVDs that explore, demonstrate, apply, and integrate elements of functional techniques. Whereas the Functional Video Digest Series is very “why”‐based (principles and strategies) with a filtering in of the “what” (techniques), the Fast Function Series is primarily “what”‐based (techniques) while rooting back to specific “whys” (principles and strategies). With this in mind, the 3D Matrix Performance Series is principally focused on the “what” (techniques) by focusing on and teaching a workout in its entirety.

Gary Gray, the founder of Gray Institute, wears two main beliefs on his sleeve: (1) we cannot heal anybody and (2) we cannot save anybody. He then transfers these beliefs into a powerful strategy: to create environments where healing and saving – transformation – can take place. The 3D Matrix Performance Series is one way to facilitate positive and powerful change in one’s physical health and wellbeing by teaching and demonstrating techniques based on Applied Functional Science.

gray institute

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