Top 5 Exercises To Keep Your Shoulder Healthy

In the shoulder, the higher the mobility, the lower the stability. However, this theory is not applied on a healthy shoulder. The shoulder is a complex joint that allows the arm moving in a circular motion, also, the joint has four muscles formed as a group called the rotator cuff muscles, which work in a balanced way to stabilise our shoulder.

The rotator cuff muscles
Let’s figure out the locations and the primary functions.

Refer to the diagram below, the rotator cuff muscles include the Supraspinatus (initiates the abduction), Infraspinatus (with the action of external rotation), Teres minor (helping the action of external rotation) and Subscapularis (with the action of internal rotation).

The rotator cuff muscles are important to us.
How can we protect it?
There are few tips to keep the shoulder healthy.

1. Keep a good posture
Chest open, engage core muscles by elongating the spine. Avoid ‘poking out the chin’ and ‘rounded shoulders’, so that the rotator cuff muscles work with proper biomechanics.

2. Avoid repetitive and heavy overhead activities
These are the predisposing factors to develop the rotator cuff tears or tendinopathy (previously known as tendinitis).

3. Regular exercises
Strengthening can prevent rotator cuff tendinopathy or impingement syndrome with age or degenerative changes.

4. Consultation
If you have any shoulder pain, stiffness or weakness, always seek the guidance of your physiotherapist. We can refer on if we think you need investigations or a medical consultation.


Top 5 Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

Here are some of the shoulder exercises which can train our shoulder stay strong and healthy. If any of these give you pain, see your physiotherapists for some easier exercises.


1. Wall Angels
Good to warm up your shoulder. Do it slowly and with control.

Start standing with shoulders and head touching the wall.
Draw the shoulder blade inward and downward.
Bend your elbow. Keep the forearm touching the wall.
Bring your arms up as high as you can get them, then return and repeat.


2 Scapular Retraction – putting arms in position ‘L’, ‘M’, ‘Y’, ‘T’
Improve the upper back and shoulder blade muscles strength. Too easy? Add some light weights!

Lie on your front with your forehead rested on a small towel.
Move your arms out to your sides then bend your UL in ‘L’, ‘M’, ‘Y’, or ‘T’
Keeping your chest and head in contact with the floor throughout, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and then arms off the floor.
Hold this position for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat.


3 Shoulder Elevation with Thera band
Shoulder elevation with shoulder stabilization.

Stand up straight facing a wall.
Loop a resistance band around both of your wrists.
Keeping this control with your shoulder blades, brings the arm up and down.


4 Gym Ball Wall Bounces

Raise the gym ball to shoulder height in one hand.
When ready, bounce the ball against the wall whilst keeping your elbow at shoulder height.


5 Arm Lift on Foam Roller
Arm strengthening exercise with cores muscle engagement.

Lie on top of a foam roller supporting head and buttock, draw shoulder blade inward and downward, flatten the lower back, feet on the floor.
Hold a pair of dumbbell and lift arms up and down.

Happy Feet, Happy Me!


Our feet are an extremely important part of our body. They provide us with important sensory information from our surroundings and provide essential strength and stability for the rest of the body to work from. If you have poor posture and strength in your feet, it could lead to pain and increase your risk of injury in both the feet and ankles, as well as further up in the knees and hips.

Over the last few decades, people are spending more and more time in supportive shoes and less time moving and working their foot and balance muscles. As a result, many people have stiff and weak feet with decreased balance.

So how do you turn these stiff weak feet into amazing ‘Happy Feet’?

Gradual exposure is key. Start with 5-20min a day of bare foot activity around the home or walking on grass. Build this up gradually over time. Be sure to incorporate a foot mobility and strength exercise program.



Try a couple of these foot exercises at home:

1. Big toe flexionWrap a piece of yellow or red TheraBand or a thick rubber band around your big toe.

  • Keeping the other 4 toes long and flat flex your big toe down towards the ground against the resistance band. Hold for 20 seconds and slowly release it again.
  • Try to work the big toe independently from the other toes.


2. Trigger ball rolling of the plantar fascia

  • Using a firm ball roll your foot along the ball on the ground.
  • Try going along the length of your foot as well as side to side.
  • Pause on tight or tender sports for a longer release.

3. The perfect heel raise

  • Always hold onto the wall or a bench for this exercise, it is for strength not balance
  • With parallel feet slowly rise onto the ball of your foot.
  • Keep the middle of your shin bone or ankle joint directly above your 2nd toe. Be careful not to roll outwards.
  • Slowly lower the heels back down to the ground
  • Do not use momentum to help you raise your heel, you should not feel like you are rocking forwards and backwards on your heel.
  • Do as many repetitions as you can of a full height heel raise. Once you can do 20, try doing them on a single leg.

4. Balance

  • Challenge yourself daily with a balance exercise. Try feet together, one foot forwards one foot backwards, single leg.
  • Try balancing on a rolled up towel, a pillow, the edge of the gutter, a log fence at the park, let your imagination run wild!

These are a couple of my favourites that are included with many more exercises and fun movements in our ‘Happy Feet’ class. Come and give it a try!!


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


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. 


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

How to safely return to the gym post COVID

Now restrictions are easing and the gyms are back open, it’s really important that we transition our home workouts back into our gym routines safely, without overloading and injuring ourselves. It’s important that we restrain our excitement, for the moment, take an honest account of our loading in the past few months and plan before we return to lifting with heavier and regular weight again. Our strength will be reduced, so reduce your weight!

Warm up and cool down

Make sure you reintroduce a good 5-10 minute warm up before you commence your sessions. Try to target the area you will be training, if you are training an upper body resistance session for example, you should include some light weight or body weighted exercises targeting that area before loading up! It’s a good idea to have a dynamic stretch or use a foam roller if you have been static and sitting at work all day!

Cool downs are often neglected, however also very important now you are training again. Be sure to stretch after your sessions and grab the foam roller for a few minutes for your legs or upper back to reduce the extra tone that will build up in your muscles, just remember to wipe down after! #COVIDsafe.


If you haven’t been lifting during the past two months, your body loses strength far faster than you want to believe! Start conservative, reduce your weight to start and aim for higher reps.

Prioritise good movement patterns again first. It’s important to allow some time over the first few weeks for your stabilising muscles to remember how to lift again. If you load up too quickly these muscles can become tight leading to breakdown in movement patterns which can result in injury.

Contain your excitement; you can’t get back two months of minimal training in two weeks, so be patient! Aim for around 10-15% increase in load each week.

If you are unsure of your technique, book in a few sessions with one of our physiotherapists, or an exercise physiologist at the gym, for guidance around movement patterns. This can be much more cost effective than future dealings with an orthopaedic surgeon.


Rest is very important for any training, particularly if you are changing the loading (weight, frequency or type of training). Your body needs time to adapt and change. You most likely will experience some serious DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) during the first few weeks returning to gym. Listen to your body, it’s ok to experience these DOMS however, if you are feeling pain greater than 2 days post exercise, you should reign it in!

Space out your sessions, make sure you give the worked muscle group a solid 1-2 days recovery before loading up again. If you are training whole body workouts, have rest days between sessions, take time on these days to focus on cardio, stretching, trigger pointing and foam rolling.

It’s important to allow this rest for your muscles to recover and continue to build strength without being overloaded. It might be worthwhile booking in a few regular remedial massages in the next few months.

The biggest risk to injury is this period of load change and building up again. Listen to your body and make sure you follow up with your physio early if you are experiencing altered movement patterns and developing niggles greater than just DOMS. If you can extinguish these niggles early, it’s likely you can continue training and avoid any further time out of the gym.


If you’d like one of our physiotherapists to help your injury-free return to the gym, please call or book online.


This post was written by Mitch Esdale, Physiotherapist at Stafford Physiotherapy and Pilates. 

Baby and Me Exercises

No matter how much you’d like to exercise, it can be very difficult to squeeze into the day when you’re looking after a wee bub! Rather than using precious nap time (if there is such a thing!), or trying to keep bub occupied playing on their own, Lucy has put together some simple modified exercises that you can do at home with your baby!

Lunges (see pic above)

Baby can lie on the floor on tummy or back. You can dangle a toy over them to keep them entertained while you lunge up and down.

For extra resistance you can hold baby against your chest facing in or out, depending on age and head control. You could even use a baby sling or carrier. For an added arm challenge hold baby away from your chest.



Baby can lie on the floor on tummy or back. Tickle baby’s toes when you get to the bottom of the squat before you stand back up again.

For extra resistance hold baby against your chest facing in or out, depending on age and head control. You could even use a baby sling or carrier.


Chest press

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on ground. Hold baby around chest and use their body weight as resistance as you press your arms straight up towards the ceiling.


Tabletop Legs

Rest baby on their tummy on your shins. Hold this position and practice breathing or pelvic floor exercises.



Position yourself on your hands and knees and then lift one arm and/or leg. Baby can lie on their back under you, or an older baby could sit facing you and be entertained by your moving arms.

Push Ups

Position yourself on your hands and knees and lay baby between your hands. When you lower your chest down kiss baby or blow a raspberry on them. If you’d like an extra challenge, lift your knees and hold your weight with your toes.

Everyday Exercise – Part One: Socks

With people spending much more time at home, social sports cancelled and gyms closed, we thought we would help you still get your exercise in, with a bunch of exercises you can do at home using simple items you’re almost guaranteed to have around the house! Introducing our Everyday Exercise series!

Part one: Socks

Gym closed? Can’t get hold of weights for a workout because everyone sold out weeks ago? Never fear, you can get a pretty solid workout with just a pair of socks on your polished wood floor or tiles. Check out these 12 exercises to get your body working! You can follow the video, and there are written descriptions below to assist.

1. Mountain Climbers

In a long plank position, slide your knees towards your chest, alternating legs.

2. Knee Tuck

In a long plank position, slide both knees together towards your chest and back out.

3. Cross Mountain Climber

From a long plank position, slide one knee in towards your opposite shoulder, alternating legs.

4. Plank Jack

In a long plank position slide your legs out and in again with straight legs.

5. Pike

From a long plank position, keep your legs straight and slide them in towards your hands, lifting your hips up towards the ceiling.

6. Arm Slides

On your hands and knees or plank position, alternately slide one arm forwards as far as you can. Let your chest drop but keep your support elbow straight. Lift your chest again pushing your support arm into the floor as you return.

7. Arm Circles

On your hands and knees or plank position, alternately slide one arm forwards as far as you can, letting your chest drop but keep your support elbow straight. Then circle the hand out to the side before returning to the middle as you lift your chest again pushing your support arm into the floor.

8. Thread the Needle

On your hands and knees or plank position, slide one arm underneath the other reaching through to the other side letting your upper body twist.

9.Hamstring Slideouts

On your back, knees bent up and feet on the floor. Lift your hips up into a bridge then slide both feet out as straight as you can get while keeping your hips lifted off the ground. Lower your hips to bring your meet back to start again.

10. Scooter

Standing with your weight on one leg in a mini squat, slide the other foot back keeping the stance knee pointing straight forward and your hips square.

11. Curtesy Lunge

Slide one leg across behind the other while lunging with the front leg. Alternate sides.

12. Side Lunge

Stand with your weight on one leg in a mini squat. Repetitively slide the other out to the side and back in again. Keep the stance knee pointing straight ahead.


If you’d like a personalised home exercise program, please call or book online to see one of our physiotherapists.


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