Coffee, exercise and varicose veins!?

Guest Blog from  Joanne Dowds, chartered physiotherapist and Yogi.

It is very difficult to not exercise. I never thought that would be me saying/typing that. I am resurfacing after a period of prolonged stretch of enforced lack of exercise aside from walking and while I should be chomping at the bit in truth I’m just considering getting back to it. That isn’t to say that I haven’t missed moving and wasn’t frustrated by the lack of it in my life. To back track, at the end of September I had a small procedure on varicose veins (that sounds like it wasn’t painful – it was, very, but for a short time so in the grand scheme of things I’m considering it small) elective procedure which developed a (much more painful) wound infection- my leg looked part of a Halloween costume.


I knew something wasn’t right when I started craving cream of chicken soup and white buttered toast – carb cravings and systemic illness, am sure there is some physiological reasoning there.  I would have hoped that I would use this time  productively, clean, meditate, read, write, discover,  etc etc  but the alternative of a few weeks on the couch, social media, box sets and family sized packs of Revels, scattered between courses of antibiotics, was much more appealing and I started to feel better. Well better enough to start regularly brushing my hair and to go back to work. But I haven’t got back to any meaningful exercise. As of last Thursday evening I declared myself back to health but I still haven’t moved in any meaningful way. Enforced stillness was driving me mental, and it’s not just because the couch is only a 2 seater so it’s not great for reclining! Perhaps it was because it wasn’t a choice I made but was made for me. At the time  I felt like I was turning into a big stiff mess but now I am pontificating on why I haven’t exercised despite complaining when I wasn’t able to exercise and about how crap I felt when I wasn’t exercising. All from my semi recumbent position on said couch. Yes- I am annoying!

On reflection, I think my reluctance is because I’m a bit scared. Little bit scared of hurting myself but probably more scared of realising how far I currently am from where I was and the fairly hard work that needs to happen (by me) to get back there. It is also fair to add that all the while I was shovelling confectionery in my gob I was terrified I would pile on the pounds as I hadn’t done anything more strenuous than walking in nearly 2 months. Perhaps I can thank the fever for the static weighing scales as for a few days hobbling round the corner for coffee was my only exercise and human contact. The fear level is only going one way….. UP!  So I needed to deal.

Since last Thursday I have had some thoughts and a little activity, with more in the planning. My bike which was rusting away against a lamppost has gone for a service; I have bought a yoga class card and washed my sports bras! I have also discovered that I, quite accidentally, have an extensive collection of jam jars. I knew somewhere deep deep down I had hipster potential!

And my thoughts, well I think I have a crazy trainer lady in my head who gives out if I don’t tick off my fitness regime. I am not sure what circumstances has given birth to her but I have given her the power to annoy me and the shrill Norn Iron accent. The sane reply is I was sick, I am better now; returning to exercise is one of the last steps towards everyday normality.

There are some lessons I need to keep learning – I need to realise and then do what is right for me as circumstances change, therefore being ok with resting while ill is one of them. Taking the time for self care is the most important task any of us can undertake. The see-saw of rest versus exercise continues to occasionally cause my emotional health to bounce all over the place. Like all of us supposed adults, only I can make sure that I get what I need.

Gym ready!

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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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