How to Safely Return to Exercise post COVID 19

One of the most challenging things people are finding when they are recovering from COVID-19 is managing fatigue. Fatigue, like breathlessness and lack of mental focus make up some of the symptoms post COVID that last mid to long term post infection. These symptoms can come and go over time and can impact our ability to complete activities of daily living, limit social interactions and limit the return to healthy lifestyle habits like exercise.

Most of us are aware that physical activity is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and should be part of our daily routine. But how should we tackle this safely after being infected with COVID 19? 

But How Do I start??

If you were hospitilised due to COVID-19 symptoms OR had symptoms of myocardial injury such as chest pain, severe breathlessness, palpitations or syncope, you should be assessed by your doctor or medical specialist first.

If you had mild symptoms of COVID-19 it is advised to rest and recover for 10days from when symptoms started. When you have been symptom-free for 7 days and you are no longer requiring medications such as paracetamol, you may start your journey back into exercise. 

Here is your 4 phase guide. Aim to spend 1-2 weeks in phases 1 and 2, then a minimum of 1 week per phase for 3,4 and 5. 

**Please remember, STOP EXERCISING IMMEDIATELY AND CONTACT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF YOU experience chest pain or palpitations, unexpected breathlessness or signs of blood clots such as red,swollen calves.

Phase 1:  Extremely light intensity activity. Start gently back into body movements such as flexibility and breathing exercises, balance exercises and gentle walking. You should be able to hold a full conversation throughout the exercise.

Phase 2: Minimal to light exertion. Start increasing your movements but keep the intensity to a level you can still hold a conversation throughout. Activities might include household and light garden tasks, gentle walking, balance or yoga exercises, stretching and light strengthening activities. Once you can perform all your activities of normal daily living easily AND walk 500m on the flat without feeling fatigued or breathless, it’s time to progress to phase 3.

Phase 3: Moderate intensity aerobic and strength exercise. Start increasing the intensity of exercise from a gentle walk to brisk walking, cycling, jogging or swimming. It’s a great idea to start with 2x 5minute blocks of exercise and build these up. Try exercising at this intensity every 2nd day allowing recovery in between. When you can tolerate 30min of moderate exercise in a session progress to phase 4.

Phase 4: Moderate intensity aerobic and strength exercise. 30min sessions of building intensity. Allow for a rest day every 2 days where you should stretch, or roll and release tight muscles. Progress to phase 5 when fatigue levels are as pre-COVID levels.

Phase 5: Return of pre-COVID level of exercise. Hard to Very hard intensity exercise as you are able. Be sure to manage training load with moderate and low intensity exercise days as well as rest days in your training program to manage risk of overuse/overtraining injuries.


Citing article : Returning to Physical Activity after COVID-19. BMJ 2021;372:m4721


Meet Our Team: Jessica

We’ve recently welcomed Jessica Clarkson to the Stafford Physiotherapy and Pilates

What motivates you?
I am motivated by staying physically active, continuing education, and interaction with people. I feel it’s important to have healthy and positive habits that you can share with others.

What’s your favourite 3pm snack? A cheeky vanilla slice and an iced coffee! Thanks to my gran, this tasty treat has become a staple every time I visit her.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I enjoy the client interaction, problem solving and most of all, having a skill set that can assist clients with pain relief.

What’s your favourite part of the day? 100% Early mornings! Summer or Winter, Queensland has the best mornings which are highly motivating for physical activity followed by a good coffee.

If you weren’t a physio, what would you be? If I wasn’t a massage therapist studying to become a physiotherapist, I would love to do environmental sciences

What’s your favourite restaurant/ cafe? Phat Pho Vietnamese in Tenerrife & Little May espresso in Montville.

Would you rather dance, or do karaoke? Karaoke often occurs in my car, while dancing often occurs out on the trails where I can’t be seen ha! I would do karaoke to Mumford and sons, Vance joy, Of Monsters and Men, Billy Idol, Tv on the radio or The National.

Meet Our Team: Raine

We’ve recently welcomed Raine Mitchelson to the Stafford Physiotherapy and Pilates team. Raine will be working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday mornings. 

What motivates you?
I am motivated by small gains, anything that keeps us progressing. Ability to do an activity for a little bit longer, or a little bit faster, or to get a little bit more enjoyment out of something.

What’s your favourite 3pm snack? I like kit kat the most, however, i have such a sweet tooth so anything sweet is fine with me.

What do you enjoy most about your job? I like being around and working with different types of people.

What’s your favourite part of the day? the nighttime, I’m a bit of a night owl.

If you weren’t a physio, what would you be? I would probably still be working in sales or in public health. somewhere where i can still help people and work with like-minded individuals.

What’s your favourite restaurant/ cafe? The yellow deli in the blue mountains

Would you rather dance, or do karaoke? I’m happy to do both, i don’t have a favourite song but anything with a beat is good.

Read more about Raine here. 

Christmas Gift Ideas

How’s your Christmas shopping going? Are you all prepared or more like me and scrambling for what to buy with just a few weeks left?
Whether you’re looking to treat yourself or loved ones, we’ve pulled together a list of useful gift ideas to encourage healthy lifestyle choices – truly, a gift that keeps on giving!


Gift idea 1: Wheat bags
If you’ve heard “my back hurts” or “my neck hurts” too many times this year, a wheat bag might be the gift for you or a loved one. Our physiotherapists commonly recommend using heat to relax tight muscles, reduce joint stiffness and improve flexibility! Applying heat promotes healing and reduces pain by increasing blood flow to the area. Our microwaveable wheat bags come in a range of colours and sizes for necks, lower backs, and shoulders (wraps over neck and both shoulders).

Sizes and prices: Neck $25, Back $39, Shoulders $58.




Gift idea 2: Rock tape
Need something for that injury-prone person in your life?
Rock tape is a kinesiology tape that has the ability to stretch lengthways. We often use this tape during our physiotherapy treatments to support joints/muscles, encourage normal range of motion, and improve the flow of fluid or swelling – it’s great for all types of injuries. Rock tape is comfortable, allows for unrestricted movement, and lasts up to 4 days. It comes in a great range of colours that should match any outfit!

Drop in to purchase a roll ($22) and ask one of our physiotherapists about how to apply safely.




Gift idea 3: Trigger balls
Know anyone who loves to exercise but is always tight and sore?
Trigger balls are ideal for self-massage or trigger point release, which is a great way to relieve pain from tight, sore muscles. Trigger point release involves applying sustained pressure over a tight area or “knot” within a muscle. This helps to reduce pain, improve flexibility, and increase blood flow to the muscle. This can be very effective for a wide range of muscle groups, including hamstrings, gluteal muscles, shoulder, lower back and calves.

Just $5.40 each in a range of sizes and colours, the perfect stocking filler!



Gift idea 4: Pilates socks
Good grip on the Pilates reformer is very important, not just for safety and, but also to get the most out of the equipment during class.
We have a huge range of styles ranging from animal print, stripes and spots to neutral colours. They are all available in sizes small, medium and large. These socks have non-slip grip applied to the underneath which makes for safe use on our equipment.

Drop in and pick up a pair for $17 each.


Gift idea 5: Foam rollers
Need a gift for someone who loves to exercise?
Foam rollers are an absolute necessity as far as home exercise equipment goes. Like trigger balls, these can be used to roll over a particular muscle group, especially useful when trying to self-release a larger area like the quads or calves. Performing self-myofascial release after training helps speed up recovery and reduces risk of injury. They can be used to mobilise your upper back, open up your chest and can also be used in a wide range of core strength and stability exercises. If you want any ideas of uses for your new foam roller feel free to ask one of our physiotherapists the next time you’re in the clinic.

We currently have a range of colours and sizes in stock: Short $20, Long $45.




Gift idea 6: Pilates program 10 packs
Looking for the perfect gift to promote a healthy lifestyle? …or a gentle hint for dad before he goes for a second helping of glazed ham?
Pilates is one of the safest and most effective ways to increase strength, improve mobility and prevent injury. Better still, it can be tailored to people at any age or fitness level. This makes it an ideal form of exercise for anyone, especially those with chronic health conditions or those who have an injury preventing them from other forms of exercise.
Stafford Physiotherapy Centre has been offering clinical Pilates for over 10 years! All of our physiotherapists are trained in both Pilates assessment and teaching. We run small 60 minute group classes (maximum of 4 participants) so that our physiotherapists can keep a close eye on you. We usually run classes 3-5 times a day – we have classes from early morning (7am), throughout the day and into the evening, as well as Saturday mornings.
We require an initial assessment and follow up appointments (these are one-on-one) prior to joining classes – to allow us to assess any injuries, strength or flexibility imbalances, joint mobility, balance and core strength. From this information we prescribe each person an individual program which we go through with you in the follow up session.
The majority of the program involves exercising using a range of equipment; including our reformers, trapeze table, wunda chair, ladder barrel as well as smaller apparatus like swiss balls and foam rollers. Click here for more information on Pilates.
Pilates program 10 packs are currently $420 for existing patients, or $500 for patients new to the practice.
Most private health funds will cover our Pilates appointments and group sessions.

Initial assessment is $150 and follow up session $145.


Gift idea 7: Massage Voucher
Looking for something for that aunt that always starts a fight at Christmas lunch? How about that tightly wound mother-in-law who doesn’t like your pavlova recipe? What could be better than a massage!?
Massage is a highly effective management strategy for subacute/chronic low back pain, exercise induced muscle soreness, and many soft tissue injuries. Physical benefits of massage include: reduced muscle tension, improved circulation, increased joint mobility and flexibility and improved recovery of soft tissue injuries. Massage also reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body, whilst promoting the release of endorphins – a natural brain chemical that promotes feelings of wellbeing.

Prices as per session length: $65 for 30 mins, $85 for 45 mins, $95 for 60 mins, or $145 for 90 mins.

New GLA:D® Program for hip and/or knee osteoarthritis coming soon!

Juhi, Matt and Sandra recently undertook the GLA:D® – “Good Life with osteoArthritis: Denmark” course and are now certified GLA:D® physiotherapists. We will soon be launching our in-house GLA:D® Program – a 6 week program of education and exercise designed to help reduce the symptoms of hip and/or knee osteoarthritis. Over the 6 weeks patients will attend 2 education sessions and 12 supervised exercise sessions, each of about 60 minutes.

GLA:D® is an evidence-based approach shown to help people of all ages with mild, moderate and severe osteoarthritis by reducing pain, increasing mobility and enhancing quality of life. Often surgery such as joint replacement can be avoided and, if having a total knee joint or hip replacement, completing the GLA:D® program prior can lead to a quicker recovery.

The GLA:D® exercises can be personalised to each individual participant, continued at home and repeated as and when you feel you may benefit from them.


Click here to read more about our upcoming GLA:D® Program.


Click here to express your interest in our GLA:D® Program and we will contact you once it has launched. You can also call us on 3857 5815.




Does your back feel stiff? Read on to find out how you can improve your thoracic mobility…

Our daily habits make us very prone to stiffness in the thoracic spine, which often makes it hard to stretch, bend or flex your spine, and can lead to back pain and tension. We spend a great deal of time through the day in thoracic flexion (forward bending) e.g. when showering, sitting at a desk, looking at our phone, preparing food, eating, doing housework, etc. 

Unfortunately, our usual daily routines rarely require us to extend our thoracic spine so, unless we go out of our way to do otherwise, we are often stuck in a forward position. Over time this leads to a fixed flexion posture and can be hard to reverse. It becomes especially hard to reverse as we age and, if not addressed, often leads to a great deal of debilitation in later life. 

Poor thoracic mobility can also have flow-on affects into the neck, shoulders and lower back. With our thoracic spine in a flexed position, we are more likely to overload the neck muscles, impinge the shoulder joints and place more pressure on our lower back, especially when sitting through the day. Natural movement, combined with joint mobilising exercises for the thoracic spine can help offset poor habits and help us to improve overall posture and prevent movement restriction later in life.

The following exercises can almost all be done with no equipment, with a couple of exercises only requiring a foam roller and a broomstick.

1. Cobra pose

Start lying face down with toes pointed and hands on the floor underneath your shoulders. Push up through your arms and extend spine as far as you can, ensuring you also lift your head and look straight ahead. You can lock out your elbows if able, otherwise if this feels too extreme you can rest on your forearms. Hold this position for 10 seconds before returning to the starting position. The aim here is to get as much extension through the spine as possible. Repeat 5 times and remember to keep breathing as you stretch.


2. Archer stretch 

Lie on your side with your hips and knees bent to 90 degrees, keep your knees together as you arc your top arm up towards the ceiling and continue all the way around onto the floor. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times. The aim here is to get as much rotation through the spine as possible. Do the same lying on the other side. 


3. Child’s pose 

Get on your hands and knees, drop your bottom back onto your heels while keeping your palms firmly planted on the floor. Let your head drop between your arms and push your chest to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. You can get a wider stretch by pushing your knees out to the sides so your legs form a V.



4. Cat cow stretch

Get on all-fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly below your hips. Alternate between arching and curling the spine. The aim here is to move your spine through its full range of motion in each direction. Repeat 10 times in each direction.







5. Roller Thoracic extension 

Lying down on a foam roller, with the roller sideways underneath your body, extend back over the roller as far as your feel comfortable. Roll up and down trying to extend the spinal segment above the roller as much as possible. If this feels too intense or uncomfortable you may want to work on the cobra stretch more until you gain more mobility. 


6. Thoracic rotation with stick 

Rest broomstick on shoulders and place hands on top of stick at each end. Rotate the spine to the side as far as possible, trying to point the stick to 12 o’clock if able, hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times in each direction.



7. Thoracic side bends with stick 

Rest broomstick on shoulders and place hands on top of stick at each end. Bent to the side through the spine, trying to point the stick down towards the floor as far as possible, hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times in each direction.

If you’re struggling with back pain, stiffness or just want to help your body grow stronger and healthier, call or book online to have an appointment with a member of our team today.


This post was written by Greg Holmes, Physiotherapist at Stafford Physiotherapy and Pilates. 

Conditions we love (Ally): Headaches

We should start with a disclaimer… We don’t love these conditions themselves; we love treating them!

Headaches a

nd migraines can be a very debilitating condition suffered by a large percentage of the population (1 in 20 people!). They can range from mild pain, lasting just a few hours, to severe throbbing pain causing the sufferer to be unable to leave their house for days.

I have been fortunate enough to learn how to diagnose and treat headaches from Dean Watson, the founder of the Watson Headache Approach. I have found it to be a very rewarding method of treatment with the main aim of treatment being to identify the cervical (neck) joint that reproduces your area of headache pain.

Typically, people come into the clinic with a headache and through the assessment of the upper cervical spine segments we usually find the joint that intensifies the exact head pain they get. They are then so relieved when maintaining pressure on that joint referring to their headache pain that their head pain resolves. It is this ‘reproduction and resolution’ of head pain that is so powerful in desensitising the brainstem, which is the underlying disorder of headache and migraine sufferers. 

I love that it is a drug free intervention that is successful in reducing headaches in 80% of headache or migraine sufferers. I especially love it when I can relieve the headache of someone who has been suffering for years and thought that they just have to put up with it forever. I find it to be a very systematic and reproducible method of treatment that does actually work, with results starting from the very first session. 


Here is my favorite headache exercise. It is best done when you are just feeling the onset of head pain or any associated symptoms that precede your headache.

Hold this for 20seconds or until the headache subsides.

Repeat up to 5 times in a row.

If you’d like a to see Ally or one of our other physios regarding your headaches (or any other issues!), please call or book online.

This post was written by Allyson Flanagan, Physiotherapist and Clinical Pilates Instructor at Stafford Physiotherapy and 


To help knee osteoarthritis + other knee conditions

Did you catch our recent blog post on knee osteoarthritis? It can be a real pain in the backside, preventing you from moving as much as you’d like or doing the things you love. Surgery is very much avoidable if we commit to strengthening exercises. So, to get you started, Sandra has shared her favourite knee exercises.

The important muscles to strengthen for a healthy knee are:

  • Quadriceps at the front of the thigh
  • Gluteus medius in the buttock that help control hip rotation and knee alignment.
  • Hamstrings (back of the thigh),
  • Gluteus maximus (buttocks)
  • Calf muscles
  • Foot muscles in the arch


  1. Wall squat (for quadriceps) OR
  2. Mini squat with band OR
  3. Knee extensions over a towel
  4. Wall stand (standing clam) for gluteus medius
  5. Sit to stand with slow lowering back to sit
  6. Step up and step down
  7. Single leg calf raises
  8. Foot doming


< Wall squat

Can be done against the wall or with a ball behind your back. Feet should be about 30cm out from the wall and about 10 cm apart. Slide down to 60 degrees with your knees going over the second toe (you don’t have to go down to 90 degrees). Hold for 6-10 seconds and slide back up. If there is pain in the knee joint, you are too low. If you can’t do this one, try the knee extensions over a towel.

Mini squat with band >

Put an exercise band around your instep on both feet and take your feet slightly wide so that there is tension. Perform a small mini squat short of pain, keeping the knees in good alignment over the second toe.

< Knee extensions over a towel

Place a towel or foam roller under the knee. Keep the knee on the towel and raise your foot until your knee is straight. Hold for 6-10 seconds and slowly lower.

Wall stand >

Face side on to the wall and push your knee to the wall, while taking your weight on the other leg. Hold 6 seconds. To progress, push into the wall with your knee, then lift your foot. You can place a small, soft ball between your knee and the wall. For an advanced exercise, add a bend in the supporting knee. Keep your shoulders and hips facing forward and don’t lean on the wall.

Sit to stand

Choose a higher chair for beginners. Sit and then slowly stand, making sure your knee goes over the second toe and doesn’t sway inward. Lower slowly and you can pause just before your bottom goes onto the seat. To progress, try doing it one legged, but your knee must remain in good alignment over the second toe. You can also try it on a lower chair for an additional challenge.

^ Step up and step down

Choose a small step to begin and slowly step up and lower (knee over second toe)

Calf raises >

Beginners start with 2 legs – go up for 3 seconds, hold, then lower for 3 seconds. Progress to single leg and increase the number gradually. You should aim for 25-30 single leg calf raises. Avoid very hard surfaces like the tiles in the bathroom. Don’t rock forward as you raise up.

< Foot doming

This can be done standing or sitting. Put your foot flat on the ground and then lift your arch, keeping your toes down straight.


Things to note:

All exercises should be done in a slow, controlled manner; don’t build up momentum, rock forward, turn your body.

Keep the knee in good alignment – if the knee swings inwards, the exercise needs to be modified.

Keep the head and neck in good alignment too!

During the wall stand and wall squat, make sure the arch of your foot does not collapse inwards – lift your arch.


If you’d like one of our physiotherapists to help you with some personalised knee exercises, please call or book online.


All about knee osteoarthritis + how we can help (part one)

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is a common chronic joint disease that causes pain, stops you doing certain activities and can cause you a lot of stress and distress. The symptoms can be pain, stiffness (especially after rest), swelling and tenderness. Often people find it harder to squat, kneel, walk up stairs, get up from a low chair and some have pain that stops them from sleeping.

Research shows that strengthening exercises improve pain and function. Surgery is not inevitable if we look after our knees by supervised exercise that progresses within limits.

Physiotherapists are the best heath and exercise professional to advise you about your knee exercises, where to start, how to adjust the exercises if your pain flares and how to progress your exercises safely to prevent further damage. We have studied the anatomy, the pathology (disease), the latest effective evidence based exercise regimes and we know how to treat the symptoms.


Physiotherapy can help in a number of ways:
  • We can conduct a thorough assessment of your knees and provide you with an accurate diagnosis as well as education to help explain why you are experiencing your pain and stiffness
  • We can mobilise (move) the joints of the knee. This can be for pain relief, to increase circulation to the area or to stretch tight structures.
  • We can teach specific strengthening exercises for the hips, knees, ankles and feet; especially the quadriceps and gluteals. This can improve joint alignment and correct muscle imbalances
  • We can strap the knee to improve movement, reduce pain and decrease swelling
  • We can use dry needling and western acupuncture to help release tight muscles around the area and relieve pain
  • We can use cupping to help release the ITB (iliotibial band) and other tight muscles
  • We can advise you on what activities that you can do that you enjoy (even if it is modified)
  • We can give you strategies to cope with the pain (like relaxation and distraction, local heat or ice).

Osteo = Bone Arthro = joint Itis = inflammation
Chronic = pain that persists for over 12 weeks
Femur = thigh bone
Hamstrings = Thigh muscle at the back that bends the knee
ITB (iliotibial band) = fascia at the side of the thigh that goes from the top of the thigh to below the knee.
Muscle imbalance = Often the inner (medial) thigh quadriceps weakens and the outer (lateral) quad pulls the knee cap towards it. This can happen for people who don’t exercise and for people who do a lot of fast exercises and no slow weight bearing exercise
Patella = knee cap
Quads (quadriceps muscle) = front thigh muscle that straightens the knee
Tibia = shin bone
Total Knee Replacement = a surgical procedure to replace the weight-bearing surfaces of the knee joint to relieve pain and disability Parts the tibia and femur are replaced to create an artificial joint.
Knee Reconstruction = surgical procedure to replace the torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). This is not done for Knee OA.
VMO (vastus medialis obliquus) = the inner part of the quadriceps (front thigh muscle) that helps stabilise the knee cap

Matthew Reed physiotherapist at Stafford Physio and Pilates

Meet Our Team: Matt

We’ve recently welcomed Matthew Reed to the Stafford Physiotherapy and Pilates team. Matt’s claim to fame is that he has treated members of the royal family! Now he’s joined our team and is ready to give you the royal treatment! 

What motivates you?
Keeping up to date with the latest research and trends in physiotherapy. This motivates me because the more I continue to learn, the more my patients benefit in the long term.

What’s your favourite 3pm snack? Peanut butter straight from the jar.

What do you enjoy most about your job? Making a difference to people’s lives by optimising their body to move pain free and efficiently.

What’s your favourite part of the day? Getting in an early morning surf (pic for inspo).

If you weren’t a physio, what would you be? A skipper on a charter boat in the Mentawaiis.

What’s your favourite restaurant/ cafe? The Yiros shop.

Would you rather dance, or do karaoke? Karaoke with some daggy dance moves to spice up the performance. Suspicious minds, Elvis.

Read more about Matt here.