Aiveen Lavery talks to Donegal Woman about her career in physiotherapy and the importance for women of all ages to stay active.

Aiveen Lavery is a Chartered Physiotherapist at JT Physiotherapy and Reformer Pilates, Letterkenny and Derry. Aiveen has always been a keen sportsperson and currently plays for the Derry City Senior Ladies team and also kitted out for the Under-19 Northern Ireland Ladies Football team.

She attained her first-class honours degree from Teesside University in North East England and has completed a number of external courses to aid her professional development, including Matwork Pilates, Reformer Pilates, Pitch Side Management and Manual Handling of the Shoulder and Thoracic spine.

Aiveen’s experience also includes occupational and mental health and work focused preventative rehabilitation services. Here, she talks about her career in physiotherapy and the importance for women of all ages to stay active.

Have you always had an interest in sport?

Aiveen: I’ve always had a keen interest, especially football since I was about 3 years of age. I played in boy’s teams until I was about thirteen and then I joined a girls team in Derry called Institute.

What has been the highlight of your sporting career?

The highlight for me was when my club, Derry City Ladies, won the quadruple in 2015. Another highlight was when I got 2 caps with the Northern Ireland Under 19 football squad.

You’re a Chartered Physiotherapist at JT Physiotherapy. What’s the most common complaint you hear in the clinic?

One of the most common complaints coming through the door is probably back pain. The prognosis with most back pain is very good and a lot of my treatment plans are based around education and exercise.

Reformer Pilates seems to be having a bit of a ‘moment’ among both a younger and older audience. What are the benefits of Reformer Pilates and who would you recommend it to?

Reformer Pilates is a great form of exercise for all age group from athletes to those who may not be as active as they’d like. JT Physiotherapy is the only clinic in the northwest to offer Reformer Pilates and because of our two key locations in Letterkenny and Derry, we’re easily accessible to people from all over Donegal.

The benefits of Reformer Pilates include body awareness, strength and mobility.

In your opinion, what do you think are the barriers to sport for women?

Time! A lot of women find it difficult to participate in sports due to lack of time and this may be because of work, housework and childcare. We run Reformer Pilates classes early mornings, lunchtimes and late evenings, so this is one way to overcome these barriers.

Lack of self-confidence can also be another reason, as a lot of women are less confident about taking part in sport and exercise. This could be due to body image and the negative perception of their participation. As a physiotherapist, I am in a good position to help women overcome these barriers daily and encourage them to take part in sport and exercise.

What are your top 5 pieces of advice to women in Donegal to keep fit and healthy?

Do the simple things well and often – for example, walking 20 minutes per day can have huge health benefits such as reduced risk of preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Be mindful – practicing meditation or mindfulness for as little as 10 minutes per day can reduce levels of stress and in turn, help promote a better recovery from exercise itself.

Move often – repetitive activities or prolonged positions can be a big factor in the lead up to a lot of back and neck pain. Moving little and often throughout the day and taking breaks from repetitive activities can help reduce your risk of having a problem down the line.

Get into a routine – having a routine will make exercise a lot easier. This can be tricky initially, especially if you are starting a new exercise regime. Seeing and feeling the difference that exercise can have will help make this easier, so stay positive and stick to it.

Go outside – National Geographic declared Donegal as one of the coolest places in the World for 2017. We have some of the best scenery and beaches on our door step so why not make the most of it.

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