Age is only a number

Recently I spoke about the benefits of exercise and injury prevention for everyone even those well into their older ages. People of every age benefit from exercise and injury prevention at every level but many people after a certain stage let their levels of activity fall away and its this gradual but long term situation where activity levels and different forms of exercise become obsolete in our lives which will only make things harder for ourselves in the future.

This concept that we suddenly reach a best before date is something that has never really made sense. We live for much longer and also work for longer into our lives. As such we should be more active in our later lives as well doing a greater variety of activities into our later lives. But sadly we have yet to keep up with this increase in our life spans with many people continuously doing less by the time they are over 60 years old. The link below shows a woman in her 70’s keeping up with a woman in her 20’s. They aren’t doing the same level of loading in their exercises but the quality of their movements is as good as each other showing that we often make excuses for why we don’t do certain things or as is normal we let injuries and pains persist and live with them even though they lower our quality of living.

Exercises involving resistance and loading where the whole body is involved have already been shown to help to maintain body function to a high level as well as to aid issues we often develop such as arthritis and muscle weakening. We as a population still seem to shy away from the activites that involve heading to a gym or asking people of expertise what should we do. This spans mainly from strength and conditioning still being relatively young in its presence in Ireland as well as the strong relationship we have to field and team sports. These sports often have an end date to many people ending these sports shortly after their mid 20’s and the specialisation that often happens in the training of these sports which often leaves gaps in what can be gained from solely doing them.

So we come to the main point, if age doesn’t really stop us from being able to do these activities and they have also been shown to help a number of health-related issues why do we still just accept this decline in our activity levels? Why do we happily accept the old story of, “well I’m getting on in age now”. There’s a phrase often used that we are only as old as we feel, so then we should never let ourselves be fooled into thinking old age means not being able to handle exercise. So take those chances and try new types of activites and training and always treat your body with the respect it’s due, it may be older now but it got you all the way here surely you owe it some TLC.

Saying goodbye to rugby…..Again!!

So where do I start? This year I returned to playing rugby for the first time in five years. I had been away from the sport as a result of a Talor dome fracture of my ankle which occurred during a rugby match of all things. I ended up doing the usual where I spent a very long time after getting my initial scan where the prognosis of the injury changed from week to week. After doing this for nearly 5 weeks I decided to stop going to the hospital and decided to sort myself out as I had reached a point where I had to meet with new doctors each week and have a new diagnosis each time. I spent the following year rehabbing my injury but had reached a roadblock. I wasn’t able to walk more than five minutes without my ankle swelling up and I would be in excruciating pain. At the time the ankle would lock up and cease when I was walking.

I decided to then get a scan which was quickly followed by surgery a month later after I finished my second year of college. I had my surgery which was meant to be quick keyhole surgery, lasting a little over two hours. Over four hours later and I woke up very tired and very sore. I hadn’t realised what was going on and after several days of severe pain, I had the written description of the surgery. I was shocked, to say the least, my surgery involved the removal of 2 pieces of cartilage, a new piece of bone, a shaved down Achilles tendon, a reconstructed deltoid ligament complex and 2 pins and wires now inside my ankle. As you might expect I was pretty surprised and also rehab time was slightly increased.

So after a long return after injury, complications, college, and rehab, I was able to play again. My first season back started off slow, taking a long time before I was able to play and keep up with the pace of the game like I once could. I had already thought that rugby was something I could never play again so to be able to return to it. The comradery and social aspect was also something that few other sports can equal when it comes to rugby. Sadly in my last game of the season, I picked up another injury.

The term ignorance is bliss could never have been truer in this instance as nearly immediately after the initial shock I knew exactly what had been injured in my leg. I sat in a daze on the side of the pitch as the last minutes of the game ticked down and I was carried to a car and driven home so I could make my way to a clinic to have my knee scanned. I sat in my little cubicle knowing that rugby was now sadly something not that I physically couldn’t do again but something I shouldn’t play again as I had become self-employed I suddenly came to a very abrupt realisation that I now couldn’t work and was now unsure as to when I could return to full work.

After chasing an MRI down for several weeks, I was able to get the results that I had already known in my own head. I had damaged my ACL, MCL, and cartilage. This would stop me from being able to do pitch side work with my teams for a long time but by the time I had received my results I had returned to clinical work out of necessity to pay the bills. I still have to wait to see if surgery is necessary but I have retired from rugby for what seems like the second time in my life but this time because I sadly realise that my life has changed in what I can and should do, which sounds terribly pessimistic but I love my job and I nearly took this injury harder than when I found out I needed surgery to my ankle previously.

I think it is more the choices you take, so I choose to be able to be an active therapist where I work in my own clinic, with my own teams and be involved with events all over the country, which is what my job lets me do. My job gives me massive amounts of freedom to enjoy the other aspects of my life around it. But I am not leaving rugby behind fully as I have also decided that I will train to do coaching so that I can still be involved with my club and be able to use what I have already learned with the teams I have worked with still enjoy rugby but from a safe distance from now on.

Giving Blood

Recently I gave blood. This is not something special or something new, or at least that’s what I believed when I went into the clinic. Due to my job, I understand the physiological makeup and function of blood and its importance but that is about as far as that goes. I’ve never received blood or been in a position where I would have to worry about it. I have had surgery and done all the rehab imaginable but I had thankfully never been in a position where I needed to receive blood. I have given blood Continue reading “Giving Blood”