Ben Rowles - our in-house physiotherapist - takes some time from his day-to-day duties for the NHS in Ormskirk to have a chat with Daryl Dominguez, covering such topics as ankle surgery, mental health, and the importance of maintaining a balance diet.
Portrait: Reece Leung
Can you give us a quick introduction please, Daryl?
My name is Daryl Dominguez, I’m 29, and I ride for Vans, Statue Hardware, Severn Goods, Route One, Baglady, and Nyishar. I teach skateboarding, build ramps, and have worked in restaurants, bars, and even theatre spaces. I also co-founded the non-profit organisation Skate Nepal in 2016.
During a typical week, what sort of things do you undertake to look after your physical and mental health?
I try to take a very holistic approach to health and wellbeing; in other words, I try to stimulate lots of different angles. For mental health, I often meditate, and I keep a journal, as I find it very therapeutic and cathartic. When I can, I go on long walks in nature too, though I live in London at the moment so, as you can imagine, open spaces are few and far between. In more physical terms, I do yoga from time to time, and I stretch a lot. I love cooking too, so I’ve been learning how to make some healthy meals, and then observing how they make me feel, that way I can get the best out of my diet.
Focusing on meditation and keeping a journal for a moment, how do those two practices help with your mental wellbeing?
I find keeping a journal allows me to truly open up to myself. It helps me to process certain emotions, as well as articulate thoughts and ideas. It can be very beneficial to have what is often construed in your head expressed into something physical. I find it can release you of things you don’t necessarily need to hold onto, and once your thoughts are on paper, you can see them from a different perspective.
Meditation helps me slow down. London is just too damn fast! Big city mentality is often obsessed with progress, and striving forwards through struggle and hard work, so it’s quite rare that we actually take time to sit with ourselves, be still, and find contentment within that. It’s very rare we actually appreciate and hold gratitude for what’s right in front of us, because we’re always looking too far into the future, and then when we do spend time with ourselves, it’s usually in front of a screen. Meditation helps me take that step back; it reminds me that life isn’t just hard work and graft.
Yoga is sort of an extension of this, as it helps with the slowing down process, and helps connect me more with my own body, to really appreciate and nurture it. Yoga also keeps me lovely and flexible, as I never know the next time I’m going to scorpion at the bottom of a crusty bank (laughs).
The only good hippy...is a wet hippy. Photo: Rafal Wojnowski
Can you tell us a bit about your interest in food? How much of a role do you think learning to cook meals from scratch plays in eating a balanced diet?
I can’t really say when my passion for cooking started. I always used to have homies show me local dishes when I was traveling; I tasted a lot of different cuisines that way. As my interest in health grew, it was only a matter of time before I looked into food. Now I try to marry the enjoyment of cooking with a nutritionally balanced diet that works for me. Learning to cook just made sense to me; it’s way cheaper, so much healthier, and you get to learn about the connection between yourself and the nourishment you get from what you consume. Not to mention meal prepping saves time, especially when cooking in bulk! I also really like cooking for people; it’s a sincere labour of love. In terms of cuisine, I’d say Korean is my favourite. Korea really left a mark on me in recent years, and was one of the last places I visited before COVID happened. My favourite Korean foods to cook are bibimbap, kimchi, and tteok-bokki.
You also mentioned screen time, such as scrolling through social media. Do you have any tips on how you limit the amount of time you spend on your phone?
Every now and then I used to just delete social media off my phone when it all got a bit much. Social media is not an inherently bad thing, but personally I feel that looking at it is quite a hypnotic habit that’s easy to fall into. The time away from social media would set me straight for a bit, and that would usually last a week or two, but sometimes it could last months depending on where I was in life. As someone who makes a living from skating to some degree, it’s not very realistic to take such a long break, especially now Skate Nepal is taking off again. Something I would recommend is not looking at your phone for the first couple hours when you wake up, and the last couple of hours before you go to bed. It’s really important to properly wind down and relax in the evening.
It's rare we actually appreciate and hold gratitude for what's right in front of us.
Can you tell me a little bit about your recent foot injury, and the surgery that you are currently waiting for?
My left ankle really impedes me at times. I have had a talar osteophyte for more than ten years. It’s basically a bone growth on the left ankle that causes pain in the joint, especially on heavy impact. This is what’s known as a ‘hot pocket’. It didn’t really bother me for a very long time; I had it even when I was going through a Zero Dying to Live phase, jumping down big stairs all the time. But in recent years it’s become worse, with some hot pockets even taking me out for weeks.
It’s quite a common injury amongst skateboarders, and the surgery is basically just chopping the bone growth out. The MRI showed no further complications in the joint, tendons, or ligaments, so fingers crossed it remains that simple. I went through the NHS and spoke to a consultant who booked me in for surgery after they had assessed the injury. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as I got booked in for surgery straight after I finished filming my last part, and by the time the part comes out, I will already be in the rehab stage. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to finish some projects before going into surgery, so it’s only right I now respect it and give my ankle the care that it needs.
What sort of things do you think will help you to get back to skating post-surgery?
Pacing myself properly, getting rest to start with, and then slowly building myself back up. I think my physio programme is about three to four months, but in addition to that, I want to be blasting yoga, riding my bike, and generally keeping active. I will eventually need some form of high-energy activity too, so I might try doing something like boxing for a little while, to get some energy out. I'm basically hoping to replace all of the energy outlets that skateboarding releases for me, but I already know that nothing is quite going to do it (laughs).
Lastly, what health advice would you like to give to the younger generation of skateboarders?
Be open about your feelings, firstly to yourself, and if that becomes difficult, please just talk to someone. The hardest person we have to face is often the one in the mirror, so do whatever you have to, to make sure you feel comfortable in your own skin. Your perspective is the most powerful tool you own. With skateboarding, really remind yourself what it is that you love about it, and have faith in that. Share those things with others as much as you can, because that joy isn’t just yours to own, it’s ours to share.
Photo: Rafal Wojnowski
Meditation and keeping journals are useful ways to process thoughts and feelings. If you are struggling with mental health, please speak to a friend, family member, or a healthcare professional, and make that first step in getting the correct support.
Learning to cook is a great way to try out a variety of foods, and can lead you to a healthier, balanced diet.
Take a break from your phone and social media. Reduced screen time on an evening can make for improved sleep.
The earlier an injury can be assessed and treated by a healthcare professional, the better the long-term outcome. In most cases, the correct guidance can help you heal faster, and should see you skating for longer!
Follow Ben - @benrowlesphysio
Follow Daryl - @daryl.d0minguez