My name is Stephen. I am a chartered physiotherapist and I specialise in musculoskeletal and spinal medicine.

I am currently a senior physiotherapist in the Poynton Spinecare Institute base in Dublin. However, I didn’t always work in the field of physiotherapy. I’ve taken an often unconventional and meandering route to my current role.

I began my professional life as an actor, training at the Samuel Beckett Centre in Trinity College Dublin.

I then acted for many years, performing in theatres around the country, including the Abbey Theatre. It was during this time my love of movement and the body evolved. When I was in my late 20s, I decided to make a change and study physiotherapy. I graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in 2014.

I always intended to work in sports and musculoskeletal medicine from the outset of my physiotherapy training

Since then, I have worked in private practice, sports, Beaumont Hospital, vestibular rehab (dealing with balance and dizziness problems), toured China as lead physiotherapist with Riverdance and spent nearly four years in Macau as senior physiotherapist at the House of Dancing Water show. Here I looked after the health and wellbeing of over 100 international former Olympic gymnasts – high divers, dancers, acrobats, musicians and actors.

It has been a wild ride

I always intended to work in sports and musculoskeletal medicine from the outset of my physiotherapy training. I was determined to combine my love of theatre and performance by working with elite performers to help them through injuries and get them back to peak performance. It has been a wild ride from hospitals to stage shows and lots in between. So what does this have to do with working on farms?

Farmers’ backs

Well, my career to date has given me a chance to work with many types of patients with different medical conditions, surgeries, rehab protocols, working environments and other challenges along the way.

You would be surprised how similar farmers and dancers are

The most important thing I have learned is that whether you are a dancer or a farmer; a professional rugby star or a weekend GAA player, everyone is the same. The principles of injury management and rehab don’t change, even though someone’s goals, physical demands, starting and end points might differ.

You would be surprised how similar farmers and dancers are! Both jobs are physical, and if they are injured, often there is no one to fill in for them. They usually need to find a way to work around their injuries. The nature of their work can sometimes be seasonal, with peaks in performance, and they are often self-employed. Their work requires muscular strength and endurance, spinal flexibility, and a good baseline level of physical fitness.

I am delighted to begin writing this column

Due to the nature of their work, dancers often experience low back pain, neck pain, hip and shoulder pain very similar to farmers. So, you might think about swapping your farm boots for ballet pumps or vice versa!

I am delighted to begin writing this column for Irish Country Living. I hope you follow along as I delve into the world of fitness and farming, common injuries, and ways to manage them. Next month’s column will look at fitness in farming, how important it is and how to stay healthy and injury-free off season or in the later stages of your farming career when farms are often transferred to younger members of the family farm.