“Choose the Challenge” – even chartered physios get injured.


Being injured sucks. Aside from the initial pain, it’s the need for patience while the residual soreness, stiffness and weakness recovers. A while ago I would have welcomed the lack of choice in taking a rest day but resting now just makes me impatiently furious. Anyone who knows me well, will recognise the deranged look I get when I haven’t exercised in a while. I need to exercise for my mental health, and, the safety of those around me!  Just to be clear I am no serious athlete, I had struggled to get to running 4-5k a few times a week without feeling like I’m dying. I had a vague plan for the summer of 2014, a few 10k runs, maybe a half marathon. But here approaching the end of September my legs have been reset to sedentary couch potato mode. The hardest step is indeed the first step out the door but the next one after that isn’t too easy either when you have been inactive for a while.

I fell and hurt my hip in April. When I first injured myself, I tried to self manage, I modified my training, reducing the time, changing the intensity, doing short intervals rather than just looking for a distance. While my usual running stride is more akin to someone (slowly) stepping on thumb tacks, this resulted in me being unable to stand without wincing for the pain in my groin and completely unable to side step. This isn’t a movement I’d ever thought I’d miss, I’m not  a soccer player  but you would be surprised how often you need to sidestep when it hurts like hell!

The ins and outs of the diagnosis and rehab is dull, the end result being strength and flexibility work. A certain Mr Kehoe aka ‘the running guru’ advised active rest for a few weeks, a walking program (the insult!), strengthening and flexibility work before I started running again. I was put out, I had got to the point of finding joy in movement and I missed it more than I ever thought I would. But I did it and the rest of his recommended recovery program. I built glut (butt muscle) strength; stretched my quads, while foam rolling my adductors (inner thigh muscles), a whole new dimension in self induced pain. Anyone unfamiliar but observing this, would think Im getting overly familiar with a 3 foot long plastic tube but it has worked, so worth the curious glances . Now I am essentially pain free. So I get to start again, creeping the fitness levels back up, and I am deeply resentful. I had this, I was reasonably comfortable with a 5k distance and now I am back to 60 sec walking 90 sec tediously slow jog. God damn! The running guru has just told me today that running isn’t easy, it is uncomfortable, it is a challenge. Essentially ‘suck it up you moany mare’. And this is the bit I missed the most about  running, the joy of knowing that I can, believing that it is possible, that I can meet that weaker surrendering voice, essentially tell it to ‘f*ck off for itself’ and choose the challenge.

So, while I am waiting on my new buddy, the foam roller to invite me out to dinner, (we did get to third base after all), I’m just going to stop complaining and keep doing.

Author: Joanne Dowds BSc MSc MISCP  CSCS RYT

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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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