Ex-Boro defender hoping to bring Premier League standards to his new post as Hartlepool United's strength and conditioning coach
Stuart Parnaby's playing career was blighted by injuries.
A calf injury in the opening stages of a Hartlepool United reserve-team win at Scunthorpe in September 2015 proved the last straw, with the former Middlesbrough defender retiring from the game aged 33.
Parnaby soon put the disappointment to one side though and set about focusing on the next chapter of his career.
And now he is bringing Premier League standards to his new post as Hartlepool United’s strength and conditioning coach.
Parnaby – who has also set up his own business called Parnaby Performance – aims to help athletes across a range of sports improve their core strength and fitness and the Pools first team are among those to benefit.
“Strength and conditioning is something that I’ve always embraced, and it’s something that has come into the modern game more and more,” said Parnaby.
“People know I had injuries and I get called injury-prone, and I understand that.
“But people don’t see what you do to try and keep yourself fit.
“So I’ve always been in the gym on a morning doing stuff, and I’ve come to understand what you need to do and when you need to do it.
“Some lads don’t get injured – that’s just the way it is, but my goal and Craig Hignett’s goal is to prevent injuries and have as few injuries as possible.
“It’s just about getting the mentality across that just because we are playing in League Two, don’t treat yourself like a League Two player, treat yourself like a Premier League player.
“Do everything you can, look after what you eat when you are at home and go in the gym.
“With the facilities we’ve got at Maiden Castle there are no excuses for the lads not to do that.
“We are trying to clamp down on things like muscle injuries, and anything the lads can prevent themselves.”
Durham-born Parnaby, a UEFA Cup finalist with Boro a decade ago, was signed by Colin Cooper but injury trouble plagued him, making only a handful of appearances for Pools.
Now he is keen to use “every avenue” possible in his new venture and that includes seeking advice from Middlesbrough - whose medical, strength and conditioning team won department of the year in the Football League.
“The game has changed over the years and become more scientific,” added Parnaby.
“From when I started, pre-season was all pretty much based around endurance work and long running, and I don’t think that benefited my body in the long run.
“It took a bit of a pounding, whereas now everything is short, high intensity stuff and explosive.
“That’s the way the modern game is now.
“You can see that from the European Championships – everyone is an athlete.
“There are certain players who can get away with not being a massive athlete, but that’s pretty much what the game revolves around now.
“Players like Gareth Bale and Ronaldo are the best examples; two of the most dedicated players on the planet.
“Lads at this level can look at them and aspire to be as good as they possibly can.
“If they can get on top of it now there is no reason at all why they can’t play at a higher level if they get themselves into better shape than anyone in League Two.”
Despite his injury record, Parnaby reflects on his playing career with pride.
“I can’t complain about my career at all,” he added.
“I’ve been very lucky, but I worked bloody hard for it.
“I played in some unbelievable teams and with some world class players and loved every minute of it.
“It’s nice to look at the past sometimes but that’s gone and now I’ve got to crack on with what I want to do now, which is this.
“I love it. I’ve got qualifications to do and I might do a degree.”
And he is already making his mark at Pools.
Impressed Hignett added: “Stuart has been great, he did the role for free for a long while and the lads have taken to him.”