Anthony Claffey is a Coru registered Physical Therapist who’s practice is very different to the norm. Anthony offers a bespoke service helping you move better so that you can free yourself from pain, increase performance and promote long term health.
Long term change is the goal, moving you away from unnecessary surgeries, from spending thousands on multiple types of treatment week in week out, to moving you forward towards where you want to be, free from pain, confident in your body and spending your money on the things you love and enjoy.
Anthony’s clients travel from all over Ireland and UK and some work remotely from abroad. Clients range from those who have tried everything and are still in search for answers, to people from all walks of life experiencing various types of pain, movement limitations, bunions, scoliosis, to athletes and sports people looking to improve performance.
Anthony helps you build a relationship with your body so that you can gain trust and understanding. With you in control you gain ownership of your body enabling you to promote your own self care, ultimately saving you loads of money.
Anthony’s superpower is his vision, his ability to see the things in your body that have been overlooked, untreated and ignored…The body shows the truth, you are today the sum of all the physical experiences which have taken place in your life, every injury, that broken toe as a kid, the fractured collarbone you forgot about aged 14, it is all there to be seen and investigated.
Old injuries don’t hurt and thus rarely are considered in the treatment space. We all want what hurts to be treated right? What if what hurts is not the problem? A.T Still, the founder of Osteopathy described all of these incidents as ‘insults’ to your body. When you damage something significantly, your body adapts to accommodate it by altering it’s structure. Sometimes these ‘insults’ live long in the body and an ankle sprain for example, from years back may need to be taught how to move well again so that the whole body can move well with it, thus helping to take the stresses out of the body, which only exist because of the body’s previous adaptations.
Anthony skills lie in identifying these overlooked parts of your body and helping you re-align your posture so that you can become more centred, creating your own inner freedom making day to day life effortless.
I am a person on a quest of self discovery, to study the human body, particularly in relation to our health and mastery of our movement potential. I've decicated my life to it and have learn't on this journey that what I share with others is what I am working on in myself. I am honored that I get to learn and grow from the people I work with.
Movement is a powerful tool that can facilitate change in people's lives. It took many years to realise this. I didn’t always move the way I’m perceived now, truthfully, until I was about 30 I moved like shit and had a body that felt like it was bound in chains.
I grew up playing football (soccer) on the streets of Dublin, passion for sport was in my family and my love of football started at a very young age. My childhood friends slag me to this day slag me because of my obsession with Ryan Giggs my football idol when I was a kid. I was a sprinter and a left winger just like Giggs and had dreams of playing for Manchester United. At the age of 12, I had ‘osgood schlatters’ on my left knee. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a bony bump on the shinbone just below the knee. Mine was the size of a golf ball and was the start of my knee problems. I still have the lump, its a lot smaller now and since I became free in my body it has never bothered me and is more of a party piece nowadays.
My knee used to swell up for no reason and I would be out of action for weeks at a time. I spent many evenings in the physio office of our local football team Bohemians FC (Bohs) with a mix of knee problems, repeated hamstring tears, always my left side. I remember thinking why me. It was so sore at the time that I couldn’t kneel down, in fact, I avoided kneeling all together and used to kneel only on my right knee and hold my left knee hovering off the ground.
As the years progressed I was stuck in a repeated cycle, left knee swells, out of action, crutches, back to football, ankle sprain, out of action, crutches, back to football, hamstring tear, crutches, on and on, always left side.
I was known for my left foot, my speed, a dribbler, and at the age of 14 could some how kick a football 70 mph (we had it tested lol). I had my first knee operation at 17 and from then things started to go downhill. Instead of ‘well done great game I heard you scored at the weekend’, it became ‘ah it’s your knee again'. I became increasingly frustrated and couldn't bear to sit on the sidelines watching my friends play. Eventually, I gave up football in my early 20’s due to injuries. All the time spent in and out of hospital and physio’s offices just wasn’t worth it.
I qualified as an electrician straight from school and headed off to Australia to experience the university of life. It was on my travels that I realised my teenage identity was all about football and now that was gone you could say I was kind of lost. Christmas Day 2007, I met my other half Noeleen on Coogee beach in Sydney, she was deaf and a native Irish sign language user. She became one of my biggest inspirations, not because she was deaf but because she had this drive, determined to do what she wanted, when she wanted. I love that about her.
I began to learn Irish sign language, a visual language I had to learn to listen all over again, this time with my eyes. This became a huge advantage when looking at other people in pain, my skill of reading body language enhanced so much that it literally takes me seconds to see someone is carrying more weight in one leg to the other and I can’t help wonder why, what happened in that person’s history that is making them stand that way. I know it too well, avoiding committing weight into my left leg for years subconsciously protecting my left knee.
Completing my first degree in Trinity College as an interpreter, the training was intense and heavily focused on simultaneous interpretation which meant our brains were primed to hear what a person is really saying, find the meaning and then translate this into sign language. These listening skills made it so easy for me to understand a persons story. It made me realise, I’d never really listened to what my body was saying. I’d lost that in my younger years and it was time to reconnect and take it back.
I was now inspired to follow my passion, do the things I wanted to do, I wanted my freedom and deep down wanted to feel free in my body. I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I ended up having an ACL operation on my left knee a year or two after been home from Australia and an arthroscopy on my right knee not too long after that. This was last stray for me, enough was enough. I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted answers and was sick of going round in circles. I wanted the truth.
I became a personal trainer and remember attending a course in London on human movement and we were in a room with a concrete floor and part of the movement was to kneel down. I felt like such a fraud, a personal trainer supposed to be teaching exercise and movement yet I was afraid to kneel down and tried to hide it from everyone else in the room. It dawned on me that it had been 14 years since my left knee had properly touched the ground. Weird how we can so easily forget these things.
I’d tried many therapies but I never really got the change I wanted. I was determined to find the truth so I became a human guinea pig. When I would kneel down I could never touch my bum off my feet. I couldn't understand why, it just didn’t make sense. I was desperate. You name it I tried it, I slept on the floor for a month to see if it would help with my back pain, I use to tie bands around my hips and squash my muscles with barbells in the hope they would soften so I could move easier. At one stage I even tried shouting at my knees. As you know when you’re desperate you’ll try anything.
After some time, I realised I was going round in circles. I had tried everything, what have I overlooked? I thought, I’ve nothing to loose if I just do the exact opposite. So I did. I stopped everything, I even stopped going to the gym. I started to listen to my body. It might sound simple but I learnt to stand and just do nothing, no control, no tensing of muscles, just stand, letting gravity take the weight of my body, I began to feel heaviness in my bones and a softening in my musculature. I dug deeper, I learn to breath with my diaphragm, the way we are designed to breath and again, the muscles of my back relaxed and gave me some space. For the first time in about a year of trying I could hold myself in a handstand against the wall and not feel like someone was sticking a knife in my back. I changed how I slept and how I perceived my body. I started to study the nervous system and the neuroscience of pain, the more I understood and the more I asked my body for help the more I got back in return. I wanted more, I wanted to master this and knew I needed to help myself before I could help others so I signed up to do my second degree in Physical Therapy.
Finding my Inner Freedom
In 2015, was my first time attending Anatomy in Motion taught by my mentor Gary Ward. It was life changing for me. I distinctly remember the moment on the course smiling from ear to ear knowing I’d found the answer I’d been looking for. This accelerated the change in my body so fast, literally making changes to my posture and how it moved in a matter of minutes. I wake up each morning feeling like I could do a back flip out of bed. I get told how flexible I am yet I don’t stretch. I laugh when I get told I move like a 10 years old gymnast. If only they had seen me a few years ago lol
What I love so much about Anatomy in Motion is that it is not a type of technique, it is not a treatment style. Anatomy in Motion is a thought process, a way of looking at the human body, a way of understanding how all the bits work, how they move together, how they integrate together and how to assess it. In the words of Gary Ward ‘it shouldn’t even have a name’. To excel at it, self discovery and engagement in a process of assessing ones own body is a must. I see it as my own self care. It is why I live it and feel it in my body everyday. Knowing every inch of my own anatomy enables me to help navigate other people’s bodies to resolve their pain. It enables me to help people with things that seem really complicated, or those who were told there is no answer. I believe there is always an answer and having a map of every movement capable in the human body I can help you find it.
Ignored - The human foot - the forgotten body part
Gary Ward was the first person to introduce me to the human foot. In particular how the 26 bones of the foot have a requirement to move and how these bones interact with the shin bones and how it has such an influence on the knee, up to the hip, pelvis, spine, skull etc. The whole body is connected. When I seen Gary explain how the foot moves and interaction with the knee. I said duhhh it’s so obvious when you see it, why wasn’t I shown this when I was a kid? I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now so I’m very grateful for my journey and that I get to do what I love and share it with others.
My journey of self discovery still continues to this day, it is one of my most enjoyable past times, spending time in my own body. When I was 14, I chipped my jaw bone on my left side and for a number of years found it hard it open my mouth wide enough to bit an apple. In October 2018, I flew to Lisbon to re-sit Anatomy in Motion and somehow a conversation about chewing food came up and I remember saying ‘I only chew my food on the left side of my mouth, actually all my fillings are my left side too’. I was able to bite my teeth together on my left side but my teeth didn’t touch on the right side, I found this very strange especially for someone who loves to explore their own anatomy and study the human body.
Knowing how the body moves I knew if I rotated my head to the left my jaw will be left behind and move to the right side. (try it yourself, rotate your head left and you’ll feel your lower jaw move into your right cheek and vice versa moving your head to the right). Anyway, I rotated my head to the left and could feel a pause in my jaw as if it didn’t want to move, or didn’t know how, so I guided it with my hand and away I go I can bite my teeth together on the right side. I then let my body experience this by keeping my teeth together and allowing my centre of mass to move over my right and left feet. Instead of trying to explain the details, I’ll show you how my body responded. I though I was seeing things too but when I walked up and down I could physically feel my legs being straighter.
I have been bow legged as long as I’ve known and the difference to me is huge. Speaking of ‘insults’ living in our bodies for such a long time. In Lisbon I was 34, that’s 20 years of been overlooked, ignored and untreated. I now chew food on both sides of my mouth and even my dentist has notice how my teeth are straighter. The human body is amazing.
Where you’ll find me when I’m not in my practice
You’ll generally find me outdoors, in my bare foot, travelling, climbing, reading, handstanding and have a laugh with friends and family.