A physio with a passion

A love of sport and a passion for helping people led to Clare Carrick becoming a physiotherapist - and she has a growing chain of clinics across East Anglia. She tells EMMA LEE how her globetrotting adventures inspired her approach to health and wellbeing.

They say that travel broadens the mind. And that's certainly true for Clare Carrick.

Clare is a chartered physiotherapist with a growing chain of clinics across Norfolk and beyond. After qualifying and working for a couple of years she decided to go off and see the world.

Her travels took her to Fiji and the Cook Islands followed by New Zealand and Australia – and it was while working there, in sports physiotherapy with world-renowned rugby payers and other top sportsmen, that she was inspired by the approach to rehabilitation and wellbeing she saw.

On her return to the UK, Clare decided to take the plunge and set up her own practice, incorporating some of the techniques – initially working out of her spare room.

Fast forward a few years she has more than 3,000 registered patients at her Back in Motion clinics at Eaton, Wymondham and Diss.

And, a woman with big ambitions, she is launching the model further afield in the form of a franchise.

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Clare, 33, grew up in Norwich and is a former Hewett School pupil.

'I always wanted to do something medical related,' she says – and physiotherapy was the ideal way to combine that passion and an interest in sport.

The competition for places to study physiotherapy is intense – you have to get top grades at A level. Clare won a place at Manchester University and qualified in 1998.

After graduating she worked for the NHS in Norwich and Northamptonshire and in the private sector, then at the age of 24, she decided it was time to broaden her horizons. It was to prove an eye-opening and life-changing trip.

In Australia Clare trained at the Clinic Pilates Centre in Melbourne and went on to work with internationally renowned rugby players in New Zealand like Jona Lomu and Tana Umunga.

She was particularly interested in the way that movement and exercise and other therapies can work alongside traditional physiotherapy, with the emphasis on rehabilitation and was keen to bring the ideas to Norfolk.

'I never thought I would get homesick, but I did,' she says. 'I came back from working in New Zealand and I was just so enthusiastic about physiotherapy and the way it had been delivered in New Zealand and Australia and what I had seen.

'I decided I wanted to set up a practice. I was young enough to start something and see where it went and if it didn't work out it wouldn't matter,' she explains. 'I think the travelling has rounded my experience off.'

Back in Motion started from humble beginnings, in 2003, with Clare working out of her spare room at Wymondham.

But it rapidly expanded to a purpose-built clinic in the town, which not only had treatment rooms, but a gym with state of the art fitness equipment.

Clare and her team treat a huge variety of conditions, most common among them are spinal conditions and chronic back and neck problems.

She is passionate about the benefits of pilates, which builds up strength and improves posture through low-impact stretching and conditioning exercises. She says that when people suffer an injury they can change the way they move because of it and it becomes a habit. However, that habit can sometimes exacerbate the original problem and people get stuck in a circle. Pilates can be beneficial because it encourages good habits such as good posture which have a positive benefit on health and wellbeing.

Back in Motion patients are treated using a mixture of physiotherapy, pilates, massage, hydrotherapy and acupuncture, specially tailored to them.

'I think a lot of people are scared about how to exercise if they've got a bad back,' says Clare.

But she has seen that exercising within their limits under supervision can reap rewards in people's rehabilitation.

'It's a holistic lifestyle change for the long term, not just a quick fix,' she says.

Clare also works regularly with local businesses and the public sector providing occupational therapy to their employees.

Clare is active in the local sporting community and with three colleagues she pioneered FAST – the Fundamental Athlete Support Service which delivers sports training in the community to schools, colleges and local clubs.

She is also a member of the England Institute of Sport and treats Olympic athletes from across the eastern region.

It's been a busy time for Clare. As well as launching Back in Motion as a franchise, a few months ago she gave birth to a daughter, Lauren. How does she do it?

'I have the full support of my husband and my family. Without them I wouldn't have been able to achieve what I have done so far,' she says.

For more information about Back in Motion phone 01953 604331, visit wwwback-in-motion.co.uk or email info@back-in-motion.co.uk