Although 34-year-old Andrew McCauley only established his business, ProCare Sports Medicine, last year in Cornwall, the story of his specialist sports physiotherapy service really begins about two decades ago on the northwest coast of Ireland.
Sligo, the city where Andrew was born and grew up the youngest in a family of eight, teemed with a variety of athletic activities. Along with swimming, rowing, tennis, golf and boxing, there were several organizations that offered traditional Gaelic games, such as hurling, and it also boasted a rugby union and even two basketball clubs.
Yet it was football that dominated the community’s sports scene with its popularity at all levels, from the League of Ireland Premier Division professional Sligo Rovers to the junior teams that captured the imagination — and participation — of youths like Andrew.
So at age 15 he had firmly set his sights on becoming a professional footballer, but a boyhood spent constantly on the playing field had resulted in repetitive physical stress and minor trauma to his muscles and joints.
“I got a lot of overuse injuries and saw lots of physiotherapists who all told me to stop training,” Andrew recalls. “And that’s when my life changed.”
The frustration he experienced as a teenager forced to abandon both sports and his career dream because there appeared to be no option to help him regain his athletic performance laid the foundation for the business he would later build. He explains:
“I’d been surrounded by sports and therapies for as long as I can remember. My dad was a Gaelic Football player and coach, as well as a reflexologist interested in alternative medicine; he had an open mindset. I was always fascinated by how the human body moved — and why I couldn’t play football for a living.”
Andrew embarked on a course of education over the next decade, first earning bachelor’s degrees in sports science from Liverpool University and in physiotherapy with honors from The Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.
“I studied and studied, specializing in coaching and overuse injuries whenever possible,” he says, labeling the latter “those recurring, niggling pains,” like tennis elbow or shin splints, that don’t necessarily sideline you but can hamper your performance. “It was a torture I knew well.”
Throughout his years of study, he conducted research projects in overuse injuries on diverse groups of active people from football players and runners to dancers.
Moving to Cornwall in 2009 after working in London as a physiotherapist for five years, including at St. Bartholomew's Hospital and Royal London Hospital, Andrew had an epiphany about his profession: “I realized physiotherapists are not trained exercise specialists, just as GPs know little about athletic performance, so I studied some more,” he says, explaining why he became certified in strength and conditioning.
He went on to get a master’s in sports and exercise medicine at Exeter University. “That’s one of the few places in the country where you can study sports medicine, which is a relatively new field in the UK,” Andrew notes.
Now ready to provide a range of rehabilitation therapy and education with the goal of speeding up recovery time and enhancing performance, the self-styled “Irish maverick” launched his ProCare Sports Medicine in September 2014 with a clinic inside a campus gym at the university.
Putting muscle into a web presence
Even before he opened the doors, Andrew knew he needed a strong web presence to support his traditional marketing approach of running bespoke educational workshops at schools and sports clubs.
“I opted to purchase my business domain from GoDaddy because I’d heard its customer service was fantastic,” Andrew says. “I was able to register the exact domain name I was after.”
Customer support was key for him because, while he can speak the different languages of scientists, fitness trainers, clinicians and even alternative therapists, he admits to a lack of fluency in computer: “As someone who isn’t a technical whiz, it’s good to know that one call can get any issue sorted out quickly and efficiently at any time of day or night.”
The freedom to focus on other things is important to Andrew, who’s married with a one-year-old son. He also just moved the business to its own premises at Jubilee Wharf this past June.
When he’s not at the clinic, he works as an NHS Extended Scope Practitioner (a senior clinician with advanced assessment skills), specializing in hips, knees and shoulders, and consults with surgeons, physiotherapists and GPs.
A man on the move
That’s why Andrew chose Microsoft Office 365 from GoDaddy to help him manage his business from anywhere while tackling his “biggest challenge” — balancing his client workload with promoting his services to new customers. He explains:
“As the sole employee of ProCare Sports Medicine, it’s naturally difficult for me to turn down sessions with clients. So I’ve taken the time to learn the skills required to successfully market the business, on both traditional and social media channels, which enables me to connect with potential customers in the area.”
Plans to expand the business over the next few years include internships to train young people to become physiotherapists with the goal of offering them employment once they are qualified. He’ll also be running more workshops to increase awareness of ProCare Sports Medicine.
“I started ProCare with the absolute belief that I can make anyone better,” Andrew says. “I believe in what I do, I know it works, and every day I get to change someone’s life — getting them back to doing what they enjoy, which is what I love: sport, fitness, movement.”