Dairy Farming injuries

Dairy farming injuries are common and preventable

In an area like Cahir, farmers and farming families are a large part of our client list that we see daily. Dairy farming injuries are common. Over the years we have noticed that there are injuries that occur frequently among dairy farmers. Some of these injuries may be directly attributed to the milking process, given its repetitive nature. An activity that we repeat twice a day for perhaps more than 300 days a year certainly must be carried out in a safe manner to avoid injury!

The purpose of this short post is to highlight some of the common dairy farming injuries we see and to suggest ways in which you can help yourself, avoiding pain or disability.

Dairy Farmers’ Shoulder Pain

There are few farmers who have not experienced shoulder pain in some form over the years. Typically it presents to physiotherapy as pain, weakness and lack of movement. In milking, this is likely due, at least in part, to overuse of one side when putting on and off the clusters. Switching hands on opposite sides of the parlour will halve the workload on an overused shoulder immediately. It is something that takes a bit of practice and planning, but using the right hand for cows on the left
side of the parlour and then switching to the left hand for cows on the right has been shown to be efficient in terms of time in the parlour and reducing injury. It is often thought that physical work serves as exercise for our joints and muscles. In reality, doing the same physical work for years may not adequately prepare your shoulders for periods of
increased demand or times when the load you are carrying is heavier. We usually see farmers with excellent strength in certain ranges of movement, while lacking in others. Using the overhead bar in
the parlour to stretch my increase range of motion while elastic bands attached to the kitchen door handle can be used to strengthen. Both of these exercises can become part of your day – two minutes to stretch while the clusters are on, and two minutes to strengthen while the kettle boils.

Dairy Farmers’ Low Back Pain

It is estimated that at any one time 40% of farmers have some back pain, compared to 20% in similar age groups in other occupations. Lifting is usually cited as the main aggravating factor for this back pain which often leads to work disability that necessitated farmers changing work habits, getting help and needing time off work (Osborne et al, 2012). The types of pain can vary from a tired ache after a long day to the more acute, sharp pain of an injury. We see lots of farmers with backs that we would describe as strong and stiff. These backs usually manage well, but in times of extra effort – for example calving season with poor sleep and increased workload – may become overwhelmed and develop an injury.
People with backs like this we try to encourage to “get ready for spring”. Starting an exercise program during the late autumn and winter will pay dividends in that busy spring period and reduce the chances of dairy farming injuries. Incorporating this into your day could start with rolling down to the floor and arching your back
while standing in the parlour or on the farm, or knee rolls and bridges before you go to sleep at night. Remember the back is designed to bed, so ensuring you have good range of motion is the first step to getting your back ready to move. Looking at a proper lifting technique can reduce the number of injuries caused by lifting on a farm.

Fitness to Farm

We know that farmers now aren’t as physically active as they may have been previously – the quad bike has reduced much of the walking each day. This had led to an increase in obesity in farmers, which is a big risk factor for low back pain. Starting to get more cardiovascular fitness during autumn and winter will have you rearing to go for spring and lower your chances of dairy farming injuries. It may be walking or running that you can fit into your day – however lots of farmers feel they are on their feet all day so rather something like cycling
or swimming, or even one of our pilates classes. An exercise that involves you meeting up with other people not only keeps us motivated but prevents any isolation creeping in, thus helping both our physical and mental health.

Hip and Knee Pain

Long days on your feet, wellingtons in heavy ground and jumping in and out of machinery are the usual culprits for causing hip and knee pain – in addition to old hurling injuries of course! Both of these joints love to move and the hip in particular will benefit from some regular stretching – again easily done with some standing stretches during your day. Adding some squats to this regime will keep that knee in order also. An exercise bike or regular swimming are good ways to move the hip and knee without taking more weight on it and both can be done inside on the dark evenings so ideal in winter also.

Foot and Ankle Problems in Farming

Any farmer would be concerned about a lame cow, so make sure you give yourself the same care. Foot and ankle pain is common with the main problems coming from the long days in boots. Make sure to invest in good boots and to change them when the support is gone. In addition to helping the foot and ankle, this will help reduce wear and tear on the knee. Simple calf stretches against a wall help the ankle and heel drops off a step are easy to add into your day.

Get fit for Spring

Dairy farming injuries can become less prevalent. Get yourself spring ready by adding 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise to your day – tough enough that you are a little out of breath, but not completely winded. Try to do this at least five times a week and preferably in a group – why not gather a few local farmers to do something together? Listen to what your body is telling you, stretch what feels tight, move what is stiff and strengthen what feels tight. Finally, managing your sleep and stress will significantly improve your mental and physical well-being as a whole.

Osborne, Aoife & Finnegan, G & Blake, Catherine & Meredith, David & McNamara, John & Phelan, J & Cunningham, Caitriona. (2012). An evaluation of low back pain among farmers in Ireland. Occupational medicine (Oxford, England). 63. 10.1093/occmed/kqs173.

Sporty teenagers and growing pains

New normal for sporty teenagers

Young sporty teenagers, who have been used to training several times a week, in school and with clubs, will be finding that since the Covid-19 restrictions came into place, their physical activity routines have been thrown up into the air. No longer are they going to training and matches and meeting their friends. Instead, it’s school at home and skills videos.

Sporty teenagers are not mini-adults and growing pains should not be ignored.

A change is as good as a rest

While the break gives an opportunity for injured players and athletes to recover from injuries, resting completely will not fix everything and certainly won’t prepare them adequately for return to sport. Strengthening weak muscles and stretching tight muscles in immature growing bodies will mean that they will better prepared to return to organized training whenever that is. Sore knees, sore groins, sore hamstrings and ankle sprains are all very common in sporty teenagers. Even for those youngsters who are not injured, if they would like to improve their performance in their chosen sport, a simple strengthening programme that can be done 2-3 times per week, with little or no equipment at home will help achieve this. Get in touch if need more specific advice regarding an injury.

Teenage athletes are not mini-adults

Every junior athlete or player is growing- slowly or quickly. These sporty teenagers are not mini- adults. Therefore, the programmes online doing the rounds at the moment, designed for adults, may not be suitable- particularly if the youngster is injured. Usually, there are growth spurts, and it’s often during this time that niggles/ injuries are reported. Athletics Ireland Physiotherapist Paul Carragher has developed a strengthening programme specifically for junior athletes from age 14 and older which covers hip muscle strengthening, squats, planks lunges, calf raises, some jumps and hops. There are 3 levels so there is plenty of scope to progress if someone finds level one too easy. There is also a mobility programme suitable for this age group that covers ankle, hip and upper back mobility. These areas are particularly important for running- so covers almost all sports. These are invaluable resources for this age group and really applicable to all sporty teenagers.

Please see the links below to these fantastic resources.


Sports injuries in lockdown

The restrictions imposed to ‘Flatten the Curve’ of the Covid-19 Pandemic have halted all collective sporting activity.  So, one might imagine that, sports injuries have disappeared too. Traumatic injuries, due to collisions between players have reduced but other injuries have come into view. Those of us out of work, or working from home and therefore not commuting, have more time to exercise. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? Not necessarily. Sore knee joints, Achilles tendon injuries, tight hamstrings, niggles of old injuries… all during the last few weeks of lockdown.

Sports injuries and sport physiotherapist
New exercise regimes may lead to sports injuries if undertaking too much too soon

Sports injuries in lockdown

Women and men participating at all levels of sport are finding that life without organised training doesn’t necessarily mean fewer aches and pains. Usually, they would go to work, train with their GAA club or soccer club twice a week, perhaps go to the gym, and play a match at the weekend. These players are finding that their exercise regimes are totally different now. The runners who usually struggle to get out 3 times a week are now ‘free’ to run daily. Take the gym and club training out of the routine and people are left with exercising at home or within 2 km. Lots of people are exercising a lot more now than they are used to. There is a lot more running being done than before. The lack of organized training for many means that they may not have done a warm or a cool down or a stretch since the organized sessions finished.

Reduce your risk of getting injured

There are a number of ways to lower your risk of sports injury during the lockdown. Firstly, keep track of what you are doing these days. You can compare it to what your exercise routine used to look like before the restrictions were imposed. There needs to be a gradual change in your training frequency (how many times per week), duration (for how long) and intensity (how hard are you working). Your body needs time to adjust to a new exercise so that the muscles, tendons and bones can change their structure to cope with the new demands. In running terms, there is a traditional 10% rule, which suggests that you should not increase your mileage by more than 10% per week. For novice runners, this might be a bit restrictive but 2 days off at least per week are very important to allow the body to adjust.

Make the best of your warm up

Warm-up before and cool- down after exercise to help with your flexibility and mobility and prevent sports injuries in lockdown. The GAA-15 warm up is a 15 minute warm up that is designed to prepare you for hurling and football training. Do it these days before your run. If you haven’t done it before now is an ideal time to implement it.

ActivateGAA is another excellent short agility and strength programme designed to be used as a warm up and improve performance in GAA. If you are usually a team sports player and you have taken up running in this crisis period, these programmes are crucial to maintain your sports specific strength and mobility, reducing your risk of injury on your return to team training.

Athletics Ireland have some excellent videos on their Youtube channel for sprinters, throwers and jumpers. These videos are relevant for anyone who plays team sports too. As always, start easy and build up slowly.

Rehabilitation of old sports injuries

Finally, it’s a great opportunity for those of you dealing with niggling/ old sports injuries to work on your strength to ensure you are better after the restrictions are eased. Exercises that you have been prescribed in the past for your dodgy knee/ ankle/ shoulder need to be recommenced. If you start now, you may well have 12 weeks of rehabilitation done by the time you get back to playing with your club. Contact us for an online consultation if you need advice on an old injury or a new one.

In summary, with your changed exercise routine, change your dose of exercise gradually, do a warm- up and cool –down, sleep and eat well and do your exercises for your weak areas. Have fun!

Below see some links to the excellent resources online to keep you healthy.

This the Ulster GAA warm up , an excellent resource for any GAA player.


Postnatal Exercises and Physiotherapy

Congratulations to all the new parents, happily making a new cocoon with a precious bundle of joy. A new baby brings many changes to the household, not least in terms of the impact on the body of a new mother. In this time of social distancing, there may be less opportunity for new mothers to meet up with other mothers and discuss the changes and challenges of life with a small baby. Postnatal exercises will be an important part of a healthy recovery.

postnatal physiotherapy
For new mothers, difficulties are common so looking after yourself is important .

What’s normal?

Regardless of how your baby was delivered, many mothers experience difficulties in the weeks and months afterwards. Up to half of all women experience weakness in both the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles after pregnancy and up to a third still have a tummy gap at eight weeks post-birth. This can cause instability or poor core strength leading to women developing pelvic or back pain or bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction. In addition, up to one in eight new mothers experience postnatal depression and many women have had some depressive symptoms during pregnancy. Appropriate specific postnatal exercises will help with these symptoms.


At Cahir Physiotherapy we are happy to offer the MummyMOT. This is a post-natal checkup for women at any time after delivery, from six weeks to six years. Our specialist women’s health physiotherapist can assess, treat and help you manage many of the difficulties you may be encountering. This service has now moved online and we can offer the same expertise over our telehealth platform.

Postnatal Exercises

Physiotherapy can assess how your body now moves and functions. Postural changes in the last few weeks of pregnancy, along with the poor postures associated with feeding and carrying a growing baby put significant pressure on your spine. We can look at your posture, advise on positional changes, postnatal exercises and supports that may be useful.

Abdominal separation

Weakness of the abdominal muscles may further contribute to the back or pelvic pain. We can assist you in checking for an abdominal separation, diastasis recti. A comprehensive postnatal exercise program will promote correct recruitment of these core muscles. This will support you as you return to exercise.


Following the delivery of your baby, there may be a period of incontinence. The length of time this lasts, and the severity of the incontinence will vary with every woman. This is a symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction which can also cause problems with bowel and sexual function. We can discuss these symptoms sensitively and devise a plan tailored to your specific needs – there is no need to suffer these symptoms alone!

Daily exercise

Daily exercise is particularly important for your physical and mental well-being at this time. A walk is safe from as soon as you feel able. Gently progress your distance and speed if you wish. Returning to more strenuous exercise regimes is generally six to eight weeks after delivery, or later if you aren’t ready. Ideally, we suggest you wait until after you’ve had the six week check with your GP or MummyMOT with us. We will then prescribe progressive exercises to help you feel strong and healthy.

Cocooning exercises for Over 70’s

During the crisis of Covid-19, freedom to move outside your home has been restricted; however you still have the freedom to stay active and healthy within your own cocoon. Here are our tips for cocooning exercises.

Home Solutions

For many of you exercise in the past would have been going for a daily walk outdoors. Now you are faced with the challenge of substituting this practice with an alternative. This poses many questions. What exercises should I be doing? Is there a safe way to exercise? How hard should I be working? What equipment do I need? These restrictions are undeniably difficult on one’s physical and mental well-being. On the days where it all gets on top of you, go easy on yourself. Read a book, phone a friend or listen to some music. You will have better days ahead where the sun is shining and you feel energised; these are the days you should embrace getting active!

Cocooning exercises

Cocooning exercises

Good active cocooning exercises will help maintain your balance and strength. Home exercises aim to maintain your muscle strength while also continuing to challenge your balance. Balance proves essential in reducing the risk of falls in an older population. If a new regime isn’t for you instead strive to remain active in your daily routine. Get out in the garden more; cutting the lawn and hedges are great ways to increase your cardiovascular fitness. Indoors; household tasks such as brushing or mopping floors or washing windows also require a certain level of exertion. If you are suffering with lack of motivation or low mood then getting physically active is exactly the medicine you need. When we exercise a chemical called Serotonin is released in the body which helps to regulate mood. This is known as the ‘happy chemical’ because it contributes to well-being and happiness.

How hard should I exercise?

Aim to exercise at a level that suits your ability and fitness level. Should you have adverse effects during exercise stop immediately and seek medical advice. While exercising you should strive to work hard enough so that you are breathless but still able to have a conversation. Resistance exercises are not only important for maintaining bone health but they also  help reduce Sarcopenia; which is the loss of muscle mass and function.

Warm up and Cool down

There are two key things to remember when doing cocooning exercises; firstly warm up for at least five minutes which can be as simple as marching on the spot. Secondly, always perform a proper cool down after exercise (which can be the same as your warm up but at a slower pace). This ensures that your heart rate and breathing rate return to normal after exercise. Have a clear floor space in your home where you exercise (approximately 2 metres squared) to reduce the risk of falling. Despite popular belief no high-tech equipment is needed; two cans of beans or bottles of water and a chair are sufficient. When exercising wear loose fitting clothing and a pair of comfortable flat shoes with laces for safety or alternatively exercise barefoot. To gradually progress exercises begin by increasing the repetitions (number of each exercise), followed by the sets (number of times you perform the exercise) and lastly the intensity (how hard you work).

Exercise works

If you are unsure that you are a suitable candidate for unsupervised exercises I would advise you to contact your General Practitioner, in particular if you have an underlying condition. Bear in mind that for most conditions e.g Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease or Osteoarthritis exercise will usually have a positive rather than a negative effect.  Then get in touch with us. Good nutrition is also an important part in keeping a healthy body and immune system. Should you feel like you are lacking interest in food try eating small amounts more often.

Finally, during these unprecedented times take control of your physical and mental health by staying active as possible at home. Contact your GP if you are unsure about starting a new exercise regime and remember that a warm up and cool down are essential when performing home exercises. Stay home, stay safe and stay active!

A PDF leaflet containing suitable exercises for those cocooning has been issued by The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists. Please click on the link to access: https://www.iscp.ie/sites/default/files/documents/HSE%20COMMUNITY%20PHYSIO%20LEAFLET.pdf. A video outlining the same exercises is also available https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JG9unCq-yM&t=26s. For more information on lack of appetite access the following link: https://www.indi.ie/news/1351-eat-well,-be-well,-stay-well.html.

Working from home- good habits to get into

Covid-19 has brought a range of changes to our daily lives, and many of us are getting used to working from home. The first day or so of this seemed ideal – rise a little later and work on the laptop from your pajamas on the couch. In reality, these changes may have an effect on our physical well-being.

Working from home pains
Working from home can mean a less than ideal desk set -up and less structure to your daily routine.

Working from home infrastructure

Many of us are working from couches, kitchen tables or small desks. Correct sitting posture while working at a desk is vital to avoid back and neck pain. Laptops, despite their name, are not best placed on our laps. Place your computer on a secure surface at a height that ensures you are looking straight at the screen. In addition, your forearms should be supported on the desk and not be reaching for the keyboard. Your chair should have some support at the lower back and be at a height that allows your eyes to be level with the monitor and your feet to touch the ground – or a step under your feet for those of us a little shorter! The position of your workspace is important; the corner of a room with limited light and fresh air will hasten the onset of mental fatigue, reducing your productivity and creativity. We are available to advise you on your workspace via our tele-health platform.

Sleep and breaks

Working in this environment may lead to unusual working hours. You may be tempted to start later in the morning and finish later in the evening. This often leads to two problems – poor sleep habits and lack of breaks during the day. Maintaining (or improving) your sleep pattern is important during this period. It is recommended that we go to bed and get up at the same time every day. During our work day, breaks often are missed when working from home. You will miss the conversations with colleagues or even the lunchtime walk. Take regular breaks during your day and incorporate a telephone call to someone to avoid isolation and perhaps use this time to get some exercise to invigorate you for the remainder of the day.

Physical activity

Movement while working from home can be very variable. Some people will use the time to get an extra walk in and subscribe to online workouts while others will go from sitting at a work station to sitting in front of Netflix. Moderation is key in all cases. For those who are more sedentary, standing and pacing while on the phone keeps the blood flowing to legs and gets a few steps in. A walk in the morning to mentally plan your day is an ideal start, especially with this improved weather. Those who are filling every gap in their day with exercise should ensure it is something that they are familiar with or are easing in gently if it is newer. Increased intensity workouts should be interspersed with stretches or yoga. As always, we are available to discuss a suitable exercise regime for you, or to look at any niggles you may have picked up over this time.

Parkinson’s Disease Exercise class

If you have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), you may be wondering what your options are for keeping well. One of the most important aspects to staying well is exercise. Targeted specialised exercise for Parkinson’s Disease will be even more beneficial.

The mainstays of management of Parkinson’s Disease are medication and exercise. Many symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, for example, slower movement, will be targeted specifically in this class. Men and women of any age are welcome. One must be independently walking to be suitable for the class.

We are commencing a class specifically designed for people with Parkinson’s Disease. The class is designed and led by a physiotherapist. It runs for 8 weeks and it will take place on Mondays at 5pm. Prior booking is important, as we will do a thorough individual assessment specific to Parkinson’s Disease of each participant before their first class. Contact us for any further information 0527445477.

Mummy MOT

Recently, Caroline O’ Connell traveled to London to attend a course on the Mummy MOT. Mummy MOT is a comprehensive post natal check up for new and not- so- new mothers. It blends in seamlessly with Caroline’s considerable experience to date in treating mothers with post- pregnancy issues. Phone the clinic on 0527445477 to book in with Caroline.

For new mothers, and especially first-time mothers, life can be a physical and emotional rollercoaster. Most of the attention is given to minding the new arrival and tending to it’s every need. The Mummy MOT is an assessment for mothers. It is a specialist postnatal examination for women following both vaginal and caesarean deliveries. It will assess how your posture, pelvic floor muscles and stomach muscles are recovering after birth. And if they’re not, the Caroline can provide you with exercises and treatment to help in your recovery and to return to exercise safely.

Pool Session After Training or Racing

Pool Session after Training or Racing

After a tough race or match a great way to feel good again is to go to the pool and do gentle exercise there. It helps to promote blood flow through tired limbs. It also soothes sore joints and muscles by moving them without the impact of hitting the ground. It’s what’s known in the sports world as a recovery pool session.
We used recovery pool sessions a lot when I worked as the Irish Hockey team physiotherapist. They were particularly useful in training camps and tournaments. The Cahir Senior footballers used them after every match last year when we had matches several consecutive weeks.

physiotherapist tipperary pool sessionWhen to do pool recovery?

If you have had a particularly hard race or match, the day after is ideal timing to do a pool recovery session. It’s also a useful tool to use on a weekly basis if you are doing hard training to help prevent injuries.

When not to do pool recovery?

If you have a significant injury after a race or match the injury takes priority and you should use the POLICE regime instead see here- protect, rest, optimum loading, ice, compression and elevation and see a Chartered Physiotherapist for expert advice.

How long should a pool recovery session last?

You should be in the water for no less than 20 minutes to get the maximum benefit.

How does a pool recovery session help?

Being immersed in the water helps the body by promoting blood flow back to the heart, particularly from the legs. The pressure of the water on the less helps to reduce any minor swelling of the legs that developed post exercise. In the water the body weight going through the legs is less due to the buoyancy effect. This helps because one can move tired limbs and joints through a full range of movement without the same impact as you would have on land.

I can’t swim- what can I do instead?

A pool recovery session is equally as valuable if you can’t swim- just walk in the water instead of swimming.

How to do a pool session?

Get into the pool for at least 20 minutes- up to your waist if possible. You may walk, lunge or swim in intervals separated by some static stretching. Here’s my version. If you can’t swim just walk widths of the pool instead of swimming lengths.

  • Swim 6 lengths/ walk 6 width of the pool
  • Leg swings 1 – Stand holding onto the edge and swing leg side to side in front of you x 10 each side
  • Lunge 10 times on each leg
  • Calf stretch and quads (front of thigh stretch) 2 x 20 seconds each side
  • Swim 3 lengths/ walk 3 widths
  • Leg swings 2 – stand side on to pool wall and swing leg front to back x 10 each side
  • Walk with high knees- marching- type walk 10 steps each leg
  • Hamstring stretch or buttock stretch 20 seconds each side
  • Swim 3 lengths/ walk 3 widths

Pilates for Teenagers

Pilates for Teenagers?

Even now I remember the feeling of a heavy school bag on my shoulders and tired, achey muscles after a football match. Teenage bodies undergo stresses from changes in posture and growing as well as the demands of school and sports. I wish I had known about Pilates rather than being told to hurry on and stop complaining!!

Was I truly a lazy, grumpy teenager or was my back really sore after the soccer blitz? Would I have tidied my room if my legs didn’t ache from football training? I might even have sat up straight at the table if I actually knew how to sit comfortably in correct posture!
Imagine having the chance to stretch those overworked muscles and relieve the dreaded growing pains, all while moving to good music with people your own age?
The feeling of strength and power that comes from using our muscles properly gives us an advantage on the playing field and prevents pains and aches, now or in the future!

Why Pilates for Teenagers?

Pilates is a wonderful way of providing whole body exercise for both the non-athletic and the competitive sporty teenagers. Pilates is a great way of getting reluctant growing teenagers to participate in exercise because it caters to their various ages, fitness levels, and athletic abilities. A Teenage Pilates class comprises safe exercises to help increase flexibility and coordination while also improving strength, balance and performance in sport. It is the form of exercise that works the entire body with emphasis on function. It is fantastic for the growing years, supporting good body alignment. Pilates helps teenagers gain awareness of their own body and understand its workings. It helps to improve the way their body functions, looks and feels – and knowing their body inside and out leads to greater self-esteem.

Why Teenage Pilates at Cahir Physiotherapy Clinic?

Pilates for Teenagers CahirAt Cahir Physiotherapy Clinic our Teenage Pilates has been specifically designed by us- Chartered Physiotherapists- to help suit the demands of the teenagers we see in the clinic. As such, we understand that both non-sporty teens and competitive teenage athletes benefit from exercises that specifically target posture, alignment, core strength, coordination, balance and flexibility. For all teenagers, improving these attributes builds a positive self image. For teenage athletes, the Teenage Pilates class are beneficial for prevention of sports injury, rehabilitation post injury and improved sports performance. 

When are the classes?

The classes are run on Wednesdays at 4pm at Cahir Physiotherapy Clinic. The classes are based on fun small group setting -maximum 8 participants per class. Call the clinic today 0527445477 to book your place. Parental or guardian consent is mandatory.
Marie Aherne is a Chartered Physiotherapist who has been teaching Pilates for 4 years. She is a graduate of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and is currently undertaking a Masters Degree in Sports Physiotherapy at University of Bath. She is the  Chartered Physiotherapist to the Tipperary Senior Football team.