Core Strengthening Program

Core Strengthening In Under 10 Minutes 

By Aaron Woolley, Physiotherapist.

So many of us want that super strong core but struggle to find the time for a core strengthening program, including me. Well today you’re in luck because I have developed and willing to share an excellent core program I have developed to achieve a killer core in minimal time, and I use it myself. The purpose of this core program is build an incredibly strong and functional core not just that elusive 6 pack.

This program is suitable for almost everyone, ranging from the weekend warrior to athletes such as runners, swimmers, cyclists, footballers and golfers. I have put a lot of thought into this core program, making sure in flows with ease going from prone to side to supine, as well as making sure it includes key concepts like plank holds, torso flexion/extension, rotation and anti-rotation.

For those people out there trying to build your core strength after an injury (e.g. back injury) I haven’t forgotten you either. Once you are past the acute stage of your injury and cleared by your Physio the beginner stage should be suitable for you provided you have the adequate core and lumbar control. But please beware as the advanced and expert phases have not been designed for people with a history of lumbar spine injuries.

Disclaimer: There are components in these programs that require a significant amount of core and lumbar spine control. You must be able to maintain a neutral spine through these exercises otherwise you are risking injury (e.g. lumbar disc injury). The advanced and expert levels are only designed for highly fit and strong individuals with no history of back injuries. If this is not you please don’t attempt those levels. I would recommend you seek advice from the Physiotherapists at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast or your local health professional (Physio, GP, Chiro or Osteo) before attempting this as you may need some instruction about how to engage your core and pelvic floor muscles properly and maintain a neutral spine.


This level is suitable for people who are new to core training or starting a rehab program that involves specific core strengthening.

To complete this program do 2-3 sets of 10 repetition of each exercise.

1. Plank Knee Drops

Plank Knee Drops Core Strengthening

Starting on your hand and knees, engage your pelvic floor and core muscles.

Transition to the position pictured with control (hand and feet).

Hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position, then repeat.

2. Bird-Dog

Bird-Dog Core StrengtheningStarting on your hands and knees.

Engage your pelvic floor and core muscles ensuring you maintain a straight line from your head to your hips.

Raise your arm up and extend your opposite leg back, then lower them to the ground. Then swap sides and repeat.

3. Side Plank (Knees) with Leg Lift

Side Plank Leg Lift Core Strengthening

Lying on your side with your elbow under your shoulder, bottom leg bent at 90 degrees and top leg straight.

Maintain your shoulder position and keep your hips facing forward, lift your hips into the air. Hold this static position while doing the leg lifts

Then slowly lift your upper leg up and down for the prescribed reps. Then repeat on the other side.

4. Dead-Bug

Dead Bug Core Strengthening

Start by laying on your back with your hips and knees bent at 90 degrees and arms raised above your shoulders.

While maintaining control of your core and spine slowly extend one arm above your head and lower your opposite leg towards the floor. Then repeat on the other side.

The lower you drop your leg/arm to the ground the harder the exercise.

5. Leg Flutter

Flutters Core Strengthening

Start by laying on your back with your arms by your side.

Keeping your legs straight start slowly kicking your legs up and down.

Ensure your lower back doesn’t over arch or flatten into the ground (maintain a slight arch).

Keep your legs high and only lower one leg at a time. The lower your legs are to the ground the harder the exercise.



This level is suitable for people who have an active lifestyle and no back injuries. You should be able to hold a plank on your feet for 30-40 seconds to have success with this level.

To complete this program do 3-4 sets of 10 repetition of each exercise.

1. Plank Walk Ups

Plank Walk Ups Core Strengthening

Start in a plank position on your elbows and feet. (If on feet is too hard can adapt to plank on elbows and knees).

Maintaining your body control push up onto your hands (one at a time).

Then slowly lower back down to your elbows and repeat.


2. Mountain Climbers

Mountain Climbers Core Strengthening

Start in a plank position on your hands and knees.

Keeping your core and upper body controlled lift one leg off the ground and slowly bring your knee to your chest.

Return your leg to the starting position and repeat on the other leg. Repeat for the prescribed reps.

3. Side Plank with Arm Lifts

Side Plank Core Strengthening

Start in a side plank position on your elbow (or hand) and feet. If feet is too hard adapt to knees.

Maintaining your shoulder and body position, slowly lift your upper arm from your hip to above your head. Then return arm to hip and repeat.

Complete prescribed repetitions on both sides.

4. Windscreen Wiper (Knees Bent)

Wind screen wipers Core Strengthening

Laying on your back with arms by your side and knees and hips bent at 90 degrees.

Keeping your head on the ground and core/pelvic floor engaged slowly lower your legs to the side. Then bring them back to the centre and lower to the other side. 1 x left + 1 x right = 1 repetition.

The lower your legs go the harder this exercise is. Control is the key so don’t push it too far.

5. Russian Twist

Russian Twist Core Strengthening

Start sitting on the ground with you knees bent and heels on the floor.

Slightly lean your torso back maintaining good posture.

Slowly rotate your upper body to the left and right.

1 x left + 1 x right = 1 repetition.

NOTE: If you have a history of lumbar spine injuries swap this for a single leg glut bridge.


This level is suitable for people who have a long history of physical activity and train regularly. You should be able to do 5+ push ups on your feet to have success with this level.

To complete this core strengthening program do 3-5 sets of 10 repetition of each exercise.

Only attempt this level if you have excellent core strength, can maintain a neutral spine and have no history of back injuries.

1. Commando Push Up

Commando Push Up Core Strengthening

Start in a push up position (Hands and feet).

Lower your body to the ground while simultaneously bringing one knee to your elbow. Then return to start position.

Repeat lifting the opposite leg each repetition. Ensure you maintain you body control while lifting your legs.

2.  Pike with Alternating Legs

Pike Core Strengthening

Start in a plank position with one leg raised in the air.

Keep your core engaged, spine and arms straight push through your hands lifting your hips into the air.

Lower your body back to start position, swap legs and repeat for the prescribed reps.

(Note: Picture is showing pike with 2 legs on ground. You should only have 1 leg on the ground at a time.)

3. Side Plank Twists

Side Plank Twists Core Strengthening

Side Plank Twist Core Strengthening

Start in a side plank position on your hand and feet with one foot in front of the other. Top hand is raised to the ceiling .

Maintaining your body position rotate your upper body your upper arm under your opposite arm pit.

Return the start positions and repeat. Do on both sides.

4. Windscreen Wipers (Legs Straight)

Windscreen Wiper Core Strengthening

Start by laying on your back with your arms by your side and legs extended straight towards the ceiling.

Maintaining your core control and keeping your head on the ground slowly lower your legs to the side. Then return your legs to the centre and repeat lowering to the opposite side.


5. Bicycle Crunch

Bicycle Crunch Core Strengthening

Laying on the ground with legs straight just off the ground and hands behind your head.

Slowly crunch and twist bringing your opposite elbow and knee together. Repeat this movement on the opposite side.

1 x left + 1 x right = 1 repetition.



This level is only suitable for incredibly strong and physically fit people that have a long history of physical activity and train over 3-4 times per week. You should be able to do at least 10-15+ push ups on your feet to have success with this level.

To complete this core strengthening program do 4 sets of 30 seconds on / 15 seconds off (45 second round) for each exercise.

Only attempt this level if you have excellent core strength, can maintain a neutral spine and have no history of back injuries.

1. Commando Push Up with Clap

Commando Push Up Clap Core Strengthening

Start in a push up position (Hands and feet).

Lower your body to the ground while simultaneously bringing one knee to your elbow, then return your leg to the ground.

Explosively return to start position and clap your hands together.

Repeat lifting the opposite leg each repetition. Ensure you maintain you body control while lifting your legs.

2. Plank with Arm/Leg Reaches

Plank Reachers Core Strengthening

Start in a plank position on elbows and feet.

Maintaining your body position, extend one arm in front above your head and lift the opposite leg into the air.

Return to start position and repeat on opposite side.



3. Side Plank Twist with Elbow to Knee

Side Plank Rotations Core Strengthening

Start in a side plank position on your hand and feet with one foot in front of the other. Top hand is raised to the ceiling .

Maintaining your body position rotate your upper body your upper arm under your opposite arm pit.

At the top position touch your upper elbow and knee together. Return to start position and start next repetition. Return the start positions and repeat. Do on both sides.

4. Reverse Crunch to Wiper

Reverse Crunch Wiper Core Strengthening

Start by laying on your back with arms by your side on the ground. Your legs should be straight just above the ground.

Maintaining your core and keeping your head on the ground lift your legs up to the ceiling.

Then slowly lower your legs to the right and left, followed by returning to the start position.

5. Toe Touches

Toe Touches Core Strengthening

Start by laying on your back with arms extended towards the ceiling. Your legs should be straight just above the ground.

Keeping your arms straight, engage your abdominal muscles to raise your upper body off the floor, trying to touch your toes with your fingers, then lower to the start position.

Progression: Alternate touching opposite hand and foot together. Don’t attempt if you have a history of lumbar disc issues. Swap in a bicycle crunch instead and make sure you maintain a neutral spine.

I hope you enjoy this core strengthening program. If you would like some help developing a personalised core strengthening routine the Physio’s at Robina Physiotherapy on the Gold Coast are here to help. Contact us on (07) 5578 7233 or BOOK ONLINE.

Image credit: Telehab.

Exercise After COVID

Exercise After COVID Pt 2 (April 2022 update)

Exercise After COVID Pt 2 (April 2022 update)

By Aaron Woolley, Physiotherapist 

Australia is making its way through another COVID-19 wave. Thankfully it appears that our health system has sustained this wave extremely well so far. But with another wave means more people getting ill, isolating, recovering and trying to return to exercise.

For the majority of people this should hopefully be a relatively easy task. But we are still seeing people having ongoing health issues long after COVID has passed.

When I wrote my first part of this blog there wasn’t very much peer reviewed evidence to follow for guidelines. Now there is some more information available as we are able to see how other countries are progressing that were technically further along in the pandemic than Australia.

Below I will provide a new infographic from the British Journal of Sport Medicine which provides some further insight in how to return to exercise after COVID-19 infection. The overall premise and much of the guideline appears to remain unchanged but it has broken the progress down into a few extra steps. I feel this would extra helpful for those that may be recovering a bit slower or perhaps in a vulnerable or elderly population. But first here is a quick recap on the risk categories of patients with COVID.

Low risk – includes:

  • Mild or no symptoms resolved within 7 days
  • Upper respiratory infection only
  • Younger patients (aged <50 years)
  • Recreational exercise goals.

Intermediate risk – any or more than 1 of:

  • Patients who experienced prolonged symptoms or fatigue (>7 days)
  • Ongoing shortness of breath or chest pain, which did not require hospitalisation.
  • Dyspnoea (breathlessness)/chest pain with illness
  • Elite and/or endurance athletes
  • Older patients (aged >50 years)
  • Those with pre-existing co-morbidities that may affect recovery eg asthma, chronic fatigue.

High risk:

  • Individuals who required hospitalisation / ICU
  • Patients with any evidence of system involvement outside the respiratory tract
  • Prolonged shortness of breath or chest pain at rest or with activities of daily living
  • Significant cardiac co-morbidities, history of cardiac disease, or abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG) or blood test findings during the illness.

Low risk patients should be able to return to exercise after COVID without requiring any further investigations. Although intermediate and high risk patients may need further investigations (e.g ECG) and monitoring. Therefore it is always recommended you consult your local medical professional before starting your return to exercise after COVID.

Exercise After COVIDFigure 2 Adapted from Elliot et al 2020

IMPORTANT NOTE: If any symptoms occur (including excessive fatigue) while going through the return to play protocol, the athlete must return to the previous stage and progress again after a minimum of 24 hours’ period of rest without symptoms.

I hope you found this update helpful and get back into exercise after COVID. If you need further assistance the Physio’s at Robina Physiotherapy on the Gold Coast are here to help. Contact us on (07) 5578 7233 or BOOK ONLINE.


  1. Elliott N, Martin R, Heron N, et al. Infographic. Graduated return to play guidance following COVID-19 infection. BJSM 2020; 54:1174-1175. [Accessed 19 January 2022]
Ergonomic Office

Office Ergonomics

Office Ergonomics

By Corinne O’Connor, Physiotherapist.

Over the past few years so many of us have shifted our work space from an office building to working from home, at least part of the time.  And that usually involves finding a workspace that works.  The problem is that without a good set-up, we are more prone to pain and injury.Desk Pain

Office Ergonomics – what exactly is that?

Ergonomics derives from two Greek words: ergon, meaning work, and nomoi, meaning natural laws. Combined they create a word that means the science of work and a person’s relationship to that work.  In practice, ergonomics is about designing and arranging things in a workspace so  that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.

Our bodies are designed to work most efficiently in certain postures.  Our spines are designed in an S curve, and when this curve is maintained, all the muscles work most optimally.  When we overextend or flatten this natural curve for prolonged periods of time, we put more strain on our muscles, nerves, ligaments and skeleton.Human Spine

Chair selection 

It is well worth investing in a good quality office chair which allows you to adjust the height, back rest and possibly even the tilt of the seat.  Some chairs have arms and some don’t; this is personal preference, but keep in mind that chairs with arms may not always allow you to pull in close to the desk.  Some office chairs are designed with adjustable height arms which means you can adapt them to your individual build and need.

Chairs are definitely not a one size fits all option.  We all have different dimensions, and our thigh length means that some seats may be either too deep or too short for good support.  Like you would store-test a mattress before you choose one to spend 8 hours a day on; the same should be said of office chairs. Ergonomic Office 

Find an office supply store where you can be like Goldilocks and try a few chairs until you can say “this chair is just right!”  Make sure you test it under a desk to make sure any arm supports don’t restrict you from moving in close.

Desk Selection/Set-up

In reality, most of us have a desk that we make do with when setting up a home office, and this article will assume that.  But it is important that the desk space allows the screen to be set back far enough and directly in front as you pull your chair under the table.  Looking at a screen in sustained neck rotation will likely eventually give symptoms around the neck and shoulders and possibly nerve symptoms in the arms. If you use more than one screen, set them up towards the back of the desk to minimise the degree of rotation of the neck.

There should be adequate leg room so declutter under the desk.  Being able to move our legs around while sitting improves circulation.

If you spend all day at your desk, a stand-up desk may be a good option for you, allowing you to change postures regularly through the day.  This is good for muscle, joint and ligament health.

Finding the right chair vs desk height combo

Ideally, think in 90 degree angles.  With a straight back, your hips, knees, ankles and elbows should be at around 90 degrees.  In practice, start with finding the chair height that allows your shoulders to be relaxed and not elevated or depressed when your arms are resting on the desk to operate the keyboard.  Once this chair height is found, if your lower limbs are not at approximate 90 degree angles, a footrest may be needed. Ergonomic Desk Set Up


Computer placement is so important!  Did you know that most people have their screen way too low in relation to their eyes?  Ergonomically, the top of the screen should be in line with your eyes when you are sitting straight.  Use some books under the screen if you need to (if you pick the right ones, they will make you look even more competent at work!!!).  If you are on a laptop, consider getting a laptop stand and a wireless keyboard and mouse to achieve the same effect.

Did you know that most keyboards have little adjustable feet under them?  Flicking these feet up puts your wrists in slight extension which is more efficient for typing.  Make sure too that your keyboard is far enough back on the desk that you can have support under your forearms.  You’d be surprised how much neck and shoulder pain is caused by overused neck and shoulder muscles from typing without the forearms supported.

A good ergonomic mouse and/or mousepad may also be helpful in protecting the operating arm from injury due to sustained or repetitive movements.

Documents and Phones

If you work from documents when using your computer, putting them on a document stand not only improves your posture, but also means you are less likely to spill your coffee on them!

If you spend a lot of time on the phone, a headset or at least using a handsfree speaker will reduce the temptation of poor posture.   

Microphone Icon

Have you ever thought about using voice to text to save on typing effort?  Incidentally, did you know your mobile probably has a little microphone at the bottom of the text message screen where you can speak and it converts it to text?  It’s faster, and so much better for your arms and hands. 


We often forget about light!  Make sure your work space has adequate light but no glare so that your eyes don’t have to work hard at reading.  This will reduce your risk of headaches and dry eyes. 

Good workday practice

We all know this but we all need to be reminded.  MOVE REGULARLY!!!  This is the best thing for your body.  Sustained postures fatigue active muscles, stretch ligaments, and shorten under-active muscles.  it doesn’t have to be a long break – get a cuppa, do some shoulder circles and turn your head up and down and side to side.  Stretch your arms and your legs.  Take a few deep breaths.  Also, if your body feels good, your mind will work better.

Set an alarm on your phone if you need to…and don’t ignore it!!!

And don’t forget to drink water.  Coffee dehydrates your  tissues and makes you more prone to injury and pain.  Make sure you balance your caffeine intake with adequate rehydration.Office Ergonomics Joke

But I have pain already … what should I do?

At Robina Physio on the Gold Coast we can provide a thorough assessment and treatment with regards to your particular problem. Whether it is a chronic condition or an acute pain, we can provide individualised treatment and advice on exercises, postures and work set-up to help you on the road to recovery. Contact us on (07) 5578 7233 or BOOK ONLINE.

Run After COVID

Exercise After COVID

Exercise After COVID

By Aaron Woolley, Physiotherapist.

COVID-19 has officially hit Queensland and it appears it will only be a matter of time before coronavirus becomes an endemic disease within Australia. With the recent influx of the virus I have treated many patients who contracted COVID, thankfully recovered well and now looking to get back into the normal activities/exercises they performed pre-COVID. The majority of these people have been surprised by how hard it has been for them to get back into exercise after COVID. Interestingly, this complaint is occurring consistently despite illness severity and is affecting people who suffered both mild and moderate to severe symptoms.

Typical with the Coronavirus pandemic is a lack of clear evidence to guide medical decision making, returning to exercise is no different at this stage. But based on what little evidence is available and using some principles used for other respiratory illnesses I have written you all some advice to help guide you slowly and carefully back into exercising.

How do I know if I am ready to return to exercise?

It is very important that a one size fits all approach is not taken here. Everyone experiences coronavirus differently, meaning that the risks of returning to physical activity have to be managed for each individual. Due to the fact that the deterioration of symptoms that signify a severe infection occurs roughly a week from symptom onset, a consensus is that exercise or sporting activity should only be resumed after an asymptomatic period of 7 days.

The second factor that needs to be considered is the possibly of the person having “Long COVID”. If an individual is experiencing ongoing symptoms (regardless of body system) following the acute phase they should seek medical attention before starting exercise again. This is important because there is a risk of cardiac complication and thromboembolic events related to COVID-19, especially in those who required hospital treatment. If you had mild symptoms but they included signs of a myocardial injury such as chest pain, severe breathlessness, palpitations and fainting then you should have a medical assessment before starting physical activity.

The third factor to consider when deciding to exercise after COVID is ongoing respiratory symptoms. It is expected that these symptoms including breathlessness and coughing will subside after several weeks. But if these symptoms are not resolving as expected or even worsening, that could be a sign of pulmonary-vascular complications such as a pulmonary embolism or pneumonia. If this sounds like you then please seek medical attention before trying to exercise.

The final thing to consider is the psychological aspect of recovering from COVID-19. Physical activity has been shown to be incredibly affective at managing mental health conditions, but if you are struggling with your mental health post coronavirus your medical professional can help you access other support systems as well. And keep in mind if you don’t have the motivation to start physical activity just yet it’s probably not worth the stress of trying to force it, you can start when you’re feeling ready cause exercise isn’t going anywhere.

Exercise after COVID chart

When trying to decide if you’re ready to start exercise after COVID, you can guide your decision with the information above. But most importantly if you’re unsure or concerned speak to your doctor first or check in with us at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast. A quick check up can make all the difference.

How Do I Get Back into Exercise?

 So, you have accessed your risk factors, been cleared by your doctor and ready to start but not quite sure how? This next part is for you. Please keep in mind that there still isn’t clear evidence to guide us yet so this information may change in the future.

The plan is broken into 4 phases, each lasting 7 days but only go to the next phase when you feel ready. But firstly, its important you assess your baseline activity/fitness pre-COVID. For example, if you struggled to walk 5km before, aiming to walk 5km immediately post is probably not going to end well. Next its important you set goals and consider how you will monitor your progress. If you feel stuck writing SMART goals check out my previous blog HERE.

Phase 1.

  • Spend at least 7 days here
  • Very Light Intensity. You should be able to hold a full conversation without difficulty.
  • Aim to keep your heart rate below 100-110bpm
  • Aim for 10-20 minutes per day
  • Good activities for this stage include:
    • Light housework and gardening
    • Gentle walking
    • Stretching inc gentle Yoga and Pilates
    • Very light body weight strengthening type exercises

Phase 2.

  • Spend another 7 days here. (Phase 1 and 2 combined = 14 days)
  • Light intensity activity. Can still hold a conversation but only have slightly laboured breathing
  • Can work heart rate up to a maximum of 120bpm
  • Increase to 20-30 minutes per day
  • Keep the same activities as in Phase 1
  • You should feel like you can perform this type of activity on back to back days
  • You should NOT feel tired after exercising. If you do then you’re likely pushing too hard

Phase 3.

  • The next 2 stages are highly dependent on your pre-illness fitness levels
  • 7 days in this Phase. But some may require up to 14 days here
  • Build the intensity slightly. You should be slightly out of breath but able to hold a conversation. E.g. need a breath after 5-6 words
  • Heart rate up to 120-130bpm
  • Aim for up to 45 minutes per day
  • Exercise should not feel hard. This is moderate level exercise
  • If it takes longer than 1 hour to feel recovered then you went too hard
  • Activities you could do include:
    • Brisk walking, including hills/stairs
    • Jogging
    • Swimming
    • Cycling
    • Light-weight compound exercises (ensure adequate rest between sets)
    • Moderate intensity household work and gardening (e.g. digging)
    • Golf

Phase 4.

  • This phase builds intensity once again and adds more complex sessions including circuits and/or intervals
  • 7 days in duration
  • High end moderate intensity but not considered hard yet
  • Noticeably puffing but still able to talk (3-4 words at a time)
  • Heart rate up to 140bpm and beyond depending on previous fitness level
  • Should be able to recover quickly. Exercising should not have an impact on your normal daily activities
  • By the end of this stage you may still not have returned to your pre-COVID fitness
  • Add activities such as:
    • Running including speed and change of direction work
    • Body weight circuits
    • Super-setting gym programs
    • Intervals (e.g. 30 sec on / 30 sec off)
    • Moderate resistance exercises including free weights
    • TennisRun After COVID

If at any stage you feel a phase is too hard or have a set-back including worsening fatigue and/or a return of symptoms revert to the previous stage until fully recovered and I would recommend seeking medical attention.

I hope you found this guide helpful and get back into exercise after COVID. If you need further assistance the Physio’s at Robina Physiotherapy on the Gold Coast are here to help. Contact us on (07) 5578 7233 or BOOK ONLINE.


Running Injury Prevention

Injury Prevention

Injury Prevention – Load Management  

By Aaron Woolley, Physiotherapist

The next part of the Robina Physio blog series continues from my previous post about goal setting and injury prevention. Once your goals are set the next part of the puzzle is trying to achieve them without breaking too many times. A well thought out and structured plan won’t stop every injury but it can certainly help prevent injury occurrence and hopefully severity.Running Injury Prevention

Defining Training Load

Before delving into how we go about managing load we need to define it. Load is a term used to describe the training related stress that is placed on the body. Other terms you may hear is “acute load” which is what you did in the last 7 days and “chronic load” which is what you did in the 4 weeks. Proper planning needs to consider more than just which body structures are being stressed for each specific sport because the nature of training load on the human body is highly multifactorial. Training load places physical, psychological, physiological, cognitive, emotional and technical stress on the human body.

From an injury prevention point of view, stressors on connective tissues such as muscle, tendon, ligament and bones are what we predominantly focus on managing. This is even more important when returning from injury because people that have had a recent injury have a noticeably increased risk of injury the same or a different body part again.

Managing Training Load

I truly believe the most important thing to consider here is the individual/athlete. A deep understanding of the person you’re dealing with holds the utmost importance. This includes their physiology (age, sex, medical history/injury history), their training history, mental and nutritional health and not to be understated their non-sports demands (family, work, study).

Injury Prevention

From here we can follow a few simple principles to help prevent injury. Keep in mind this is a very simplistic overview of what research tells us.

  1. Try to keep your load consistent. This links back to acute vs chronic load. Sharp increases or decreases of load will put you in the danger zone for an injury. Aim for weekly increases that do not exceed 30% and decreases that are within 20%. The data has shown that increases above 50% increase your injury risk by up to 8 times.
  2. Keep it simple. Many of the new fitness/training trends prioritise excitement and flashiness over results. Plus, they also tend to have high injury rates. Sometimes sticking to a tried and tested plan is the best option, especially when you’re just starting out.
  3. Listen to your body. A simple idea but often neglected. This mainly relates to giving your body enough recovery between sessions. If you’re feeling flat and/or sore maybe consider dropping the intensity or volume for that session. If you’re mentally spent maybe you need a well-timed rest day or some active feel good type of activity.
  4. Don’t neglect your body. To help prevent injury it’s a good idea to add in some extra recovery aids. You could consider some stretching, foam roller and recovery baths. At Robina Physio on the Gold Coast we can also help with some preventative treatments including massage and dry needling. Got a niggle? Then BOOK NOW before it gets too bad.
  5. Consider some technique correction and/or cross training. Technical correction help improves your bodies efficiency leading to improved connective tissue loading. Cross training is a simple way to keep you moving whilst minimising overload to the specific body parts you train most.

I hope these posts have been helpful and informative. If you need some assistance managing an injury or if you need some expert advice developing a training load plan and prevent injury Contact Us on (07) 5578 7233 or BOOK ONLINE. The Physiotherapists at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast would love to help.



Blanch P, Gabbett TJ. (2016). Has the athlete trained enough to return to play safely? The acute:chronic workload ratio permits clinicians to quantify a player’s risk of subsequent injury. Br J Sports Med; 50: 471–475.

SMART Goal Setting

SMART Goal Setting

Goal Setting and Injury Prevention 

By Aaron Woolley, Physiotherapist.

The new year is upon us and with that tends to come some hefty new year’s resolutions. Most of the time these resolutions involve something to do with starting exercise, living a healthier life, losing weight and/or taking up a new skill. SMART goal setting is important to get the best out of your new year’s resolutions and preventing injuries.

At Robina Physio on the Gold Coast we tend to see some new injuries appearing that are related to people’s new goals and taking up activities their body is not yet accustomed to e.g. going the gym or starting running. So, the purpose of this blog is to help give you some tips for setting effective SMART goals helping you stick it out and achieve your goals and finally some important ways to minimise the risk of injury.

The information below should help minimise your injury risk, although if you happen to sustain an injury or would like to discuss goal setting in depth with us at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast BOOK ONLINE.SMART Goal Setting

SMART Goal Setting

Getting your goals set out properly from the beginning is an incredibly crucial and underrated step. Getting this right will not only help with minimising setbacks but also is great for improving motivation especially when things get tough. But most importantly getting your goals right drastically improves your chances of achieving them.

I’m sure many of you have heard of SMART goals before. This is a very well-established tool for making great goals. The SMART acronym stands for SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC and TIMELY. Below are some of my keys too effective and SMART goal setting.

  1. Be clear (specific and measurable) about what you want to achieve. For example, just saying I want to be fitter doesn’t quite cut it. Cause when you do you actually know if you have achieved this and on your bad days you will feel like this goal is impossible to achieve (attainable).
  2. Try not to get overexcited about your new-found enthusiasm and aim for something that just isn’t possible based on your life (realistic). For example, if you have a full-time job and a family is it really possible to go to the gym or running everyday day of the week? Unlikely. You’re better off starting small to be sure your goal is attainable cause you can also alter it and increase things later on once the new habit and routine is established.
  3. A common thing people get wrong with goal setting is plain and simply not giving themselves enough time to achieve it. I recommend everyone should have a couple of short-term (4-12 weeks), medium-term (12 weeks – 6 months) and long-term goals (up to 12 months and beyond). Having your goals broken down like this is helpful for motivation cause those larger goals won’t seem as daunting and can give you a little boost when you achieve that smaller milestone. When trying to determine how long a goal will take many factors need to be considered but in general if you can give yourself a bit longer than you think do it. It feels much better to hit a goal earlier than expected than miss it and many people will realise half way through they can’t make the deadline and simply chuck in the towel instead of adjusting the timeframe.

So, let’s put together an example of a short-term goal using these principles. Let’s say this person wants to start running and has a longer-term goal of running the half marathon mid-way through the year in approximately 6 months. A couple of short-term goals may include.

  1. I want to run/walk 2-3 days per week for the next 4 weeks.
  2. Be able to jog the 5km ParkRun in 4 weeks.

As you can see these goals have all the attributes of SMART goal. We made sure its specific (wants to run), easily measurable (jog 5km ParkRun), attainable and realistic (run/walk 2-3 days per week allows some flexibility and not be over dominating) and is timely (4 weeks).View from achieving goal

Minimising Injury Risk

This is a big topic in itself and one quick paragraph will not do it justice so I will write another in depth blog in the coming days to elaborate further. Below are a few small things you can implement right now that make a meaningful impact on your injury risk.

  1. Start small. If you haven’t been exercising lately then start really small. Going too hard too fast is the number one culprit for injury. Keep the sessions short and intensity low for the first week or 2. Your #1 aim at this stage should just be getting moving
  2. Build slowly. Steady and progressive overload is important here. Aim for an increase of between 10-20% per week. Anything above this is putting in danger zone for overload and injury. From time to time don’t be afraid to a have recovery week where the load slightly eases (but not stops).
  3. Consistency is key. Many if not most of tissues in the human body thrive on consistent physical load day to day and week to week. Try to avoid large peaks and troughs in weekly and monthly loads.

Happy new year from the team at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast. If you need some help getting on top of a new or existing injury or even some help with SMART goal setting Contact Us on (07) 5578 7233 or BOOK ONLINE today.

Happy Baby Smiling



By Aaron Woolley, Physiotherapist.

Mastitis is a very common complaint in breastfeeding women, occurring in at least 1 in 10 women. Despite mastitis being so common few people understand why it occurs, the warning signs to look out for and how to best treat it. Mastitis is characterised by inflammation of the breast tissue. There are two types of mastitis:

  • Non-infectious – this is usually caused by blocked milk ducts causing milk to remain within the breast.
  • Infectious – this is where a bacterial infection of the milk occurs.

If left untreated non-infectious mastitis may develop into infectious mastitis. This occurs when the blockage allows bacteria to accumulate, infecting the milk which remains in the breast tissue.Baby Breastfeeding Mastitis


Mastitis occurs with both local and/or systemic symptoms. Typically, more severe infections will lead to more systemic symptoms. Here are the symptoms to look out for.

  • A reddened area of the breast which may be tender, hard and painful (with or without an obvious lump)
  • Localised heat around the painful area
  • Red streaks extending outward from the affected area
  • Fever ranging from low grade (38.5° or less) to severe (above 38.5°)
  • Flu-like symptoms including body aches, joint pain, nausea and lethargy/fatigue (often with a rapid onset)


  • Most importantly keep removing the milk either via breastfeeding or expressing. And don’t worry its quite ok for your baby to continue drinking this milk
  • Apply warmth to the breast, especially prior to feeding or expressing. This can be achieved with a gently warmed heat pack and/or nice warm shower
  • Gentle massage can be effective but be careful to massage towards the areola and not hold your breast in a way to create another blockage.
  • Ultrasound therapy provided by a physiotherapist is highly underrated. It is very effective, pain free and quick.  The ultrasound waves help to loosen and break up the clogged duct allowing milk to flow once again. The Physio’s at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast have additional training to provide this treatment technique so please BOOK NOW.

If you are experiencing severe systemic symptoms don’t hesitate to seek medical advice as there is a good chance you will also require antibiotic therapy to help treat your mastitis. Happy Baby Smiling Mastitis

A Quick Word of Support

After watching my wife struggle with repetitive bouts of mastitis and even bigger issues with keeping her supply up with the demands of our little bubs I realised the mental toll on mums with breastfeeding babies is incredible. She tried everything ranging from the above treatments to diet changes, supplements, booby bickies, and even medication to help increase her supply. Eventually she was forced to make the tough call and switch to formula. It was obvious this made her feel like a failure as a mum and was a really hard transition for her, although was an easy change for our babies. In the end our babies have grown into 3 amazing kids (most of the time), so please don’t be too hard on yourself and get down with these early struggles, cause at the end of the day breastfeeding is bloody hard work and everything will work out perfectly in the end.Happy Kids Mastitis

If you’re struggling with mastitis the team at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast are here to help, share our knowledge and support you in a caring and compassionate manner. Contact Us on (07) 55787233 or BOOK NOW online.

Runner Lacing Up

Shin Splints and Shin Pain

Shin Splints (Periostitis) and Shin Pain

By Aaron Woolley, Physiotherapist.

Shin pain while running can be a common and frustrating issue for all runners ranging from the causal/recreational runner, to the elite athlete.

Shin pain can be felt in two distinct regions. Firstly, the “anterior” portion of the tibia which can often be related to a muscular origin. Secondly, “medial” shin pain along the inside border of the tibia is due to inflammation the periosteum (periostitis) which lines the outside of our bones. Clinically this condition is called medial tibial stress syndrome, but it is often called shin splints.

Shin Splints Robina Physio


It’s important to note that specific pain and tenderness along the bone the of the tibia (lower leg) can be a sign of a bone stress injury/stress fracture. If you’re experiencing shin pain but unsure of its origin the Physiotherapists at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast can help diagnose and treat you effectively.

What Causes Shin Pain?        

Shin splints typically occur after sudden changes in physical activity, particularly running loads. These can be changes in frequency, intensity, volume, terrain or even changes in technique and/or footwear. Examples can include, sharply increasing the number of training days, running longer distances or trying to adopt a forefoot running style incorrectly. We also see shin splints occurring after returning to running from a period of rest e.g. after the offseason.

How Does Shin Splints Present?

Shin splints is characterised by pain along the inside border of the tibia. Swelling in the area may or may not be present. It is common for shin splint pain to:

  • Be dull and throbbing progressing to sharp and razor-like
  • Occur both during and after exercise
  • Often worse at the beginning of running, gets better as you warm up, then worse again following running
  • Aggravated by touching the inside portion of the shin

Common findings?

Muscle weakness and reduced flexibility of the ankle are major features associated with shin splints. The major muscles affected are the Gastrocnemius and Soleus (calf muscles). At Robina Physio on the Gold Coast, we have an added layer of knowledge and therefore understand that it is never as simple as one specific region or joint causing the issue. The human body works as one large functional unit and not just a combination of separate limbs. So, it is crucial we look above and below the shin as well. Foot biomechanics can often be altered in shin splints. But more commonly we see hip and pelvic muscle weakness on both the affected and non-affected side.

How Are Shin Splints Treated?

The first step in managing shin pain is all about load management. This often require decreasing running initially, followed a graduated build-up of running volume and intensity. Getting this process right is the key to success as it will re-build the tissue tolerance of the bones, tendons and muscles of the lower limb. Bone can be very unpredictable with how it responds to training, so guidance from an expert practitioner like at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast is very important.

The next step of the process involves 2 equally important parts. Firstly, we need to loosen the tight structures around the lower limb. This can be done with soft tissue massage, dry needling and stretching exercises. Secondly, we need to strengthen your calf muscles and the muscles controlling the biomechanics of you lower limb. This would include calf raises, glut maximus, medius/minimus and core stability exercises.

Finally, in some cases footwear modification or orthotics may be considered. According to the research, the jury is still out as to whether orthotic therapy works for shin splints. In certain people orthotics will be very helpful, but not everyone. A great way to test if shoe modification or orthotics will help is to briefly strap the foot and replicate what a foot orthosis might do. A positive outcome is suggestive that a more supportive shoe or orthotic will be useful.

Here are a few of things you can try at home to help manage your shin pain.Calf Stretch On Step

  1. Calf Stretch – Hold for 30 seconds and repeat up to 3 times. (Pic from Telehab)
  2. Foam Roller – Roll your calf muscles for 10 mins following every run.
  3. Ice Cube Massage – Firmly massage the ice cube up and down the shin until it melts. It ok for this to be a little sore.

If you’re struggling with shin pain and/or shin splints the team at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast are here to help and share our knowledge and expertise. Contact Us on (07) 55787233 or BOOK NOW online.

Foot Anatomy

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

By Aaron Woolley, Physiotherapist.

Plantar fasciitis is a very common condition that affects millions of people each year. In fact, it is the leading cause of heel pain around the world. Despite this condition being so common few people understand what it actually is. At Robina Physio on the Gold Coast we excel at treating this condition and we hope this information helps empower your recovery.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a dense and fibrous band of connection tissue much like a tendon. This structure spans the bottom of the foot, originating from the heel, attaching to the ball of the foot and functions to support the arch.

Foot Anatomy

The plantar fascia is designed to absorb the high stresses and strains we place on our feet. But, sometimes, too much pressure damages these tissues. As a result, inflammation is produced by the body which then results in the pain and stiffness associated with plantar fasciitis.

Heel Spurs

Heel spurs can arise when the plantar fascia pulls hard on the heel for a long period of time. Although the spur itself is not the problem but rather a consequence of the overload on the fascia and its attachment site. 1/10 people has heel spurs, but only 1/20 people (5%) with heel spurs has foot pain. Therefore, the spur is not the cause of plantar fasciitis, the pain can be treated without removing the spur.

Foot Xray Heel Spur

How Does Plantar Fasciitis Present?

The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel
  • Pain with the first few steps after getting out of bed in the morning
  • Pain after prolonged sitting and/or standing
  • Pain that is aggravated by exercise or activity e.g. walking, running, jumping

Risk factors for developing Plantar Fasciitis include:

  • Tight calf muscles
  • Poor arch control e.g. flat feet or very high arches
  • Repetitive impact activity e.g. running, jumping
  • New or increased exercise or activity levels

How is Plantar Fasciitis Diagnosed?

Plantar fasciitis can be diagnosed very effectively with a thorough examination from your physiotherapist at Robina Physio. This would include discussing your presenting symptoms, completing a physical examination of your foot structures and lower limb biomechanics. In some cases you will also be referred for a scan such as an X-ray, Ultrasound or MRI.

How Do We Treat Plantar Fasciitis?

At Robina Physio on the Gold Coast, we use a variety of treatment modalities to manage your heel pain.

Calf Stretch On StepTreatment options we commonly use include:

  1. Soft tissue massage and trigger point therapy of the calf and foot
  2. Acupuncture and dry needling
  3. Supportive taping
  4. Footwear and orthotic advice
  5. Exercise and activity load management
  6. A lower limb stretching and strengthening program
  7. Rolling Foot On Frozen BottleTechnique correction and return to running advice
  8. Use of pain-relieving devices e.g. Strassburg sock and my favourite rolling your foot on a frozen bottle.

Unfortunately for some people conservative management does not fully resolve their pain. For these people combining physiotherapy with injection therapy can be very effective. The next tier of treatment available would include:

  1. Steroid Injections
  2. PRP Injections

If your suffering with Plantar Fasciitis or foot pain the Robina Physio on the Gold Coast is has to expert care available to help get you pain free and moving again. Contact Us on (07) 55787233 or BOOK ONLINE.

Exercise at the beach



By Aaron Woolley, Physiotherapist.

Exercising and being physically active is essential for good mental and physical health and wellbeing. It reduces the risk of many diseases, including some cancers, and helps maintain a healthy weight.

Based on self-reported data from the 2017–18 National Health Survey, more than half of adults (55%) didn’t participate in sufficient physical activity. Women were more likely than men to be insufficiently active (59% compared with 50%). The rate of insufficient activity increases with age, with more than two-thirds of those aged 65 and over (69% of men and 75% of women) were insufficiently active.

Unfortunately, insufficient exercise does carry significant burden for many associated diseases including:

  • Type 2 diabetes = 19%
  • Bowel Cancer = 17%
  • Uterine Cancer = 16%
  • Dementia = 14%
  • Coronary Heart Disease = 12%
  • Breast Cancer = 11%
  • Stroke = 10%


Activity trends across the ages

The trend of insufficient activity is also a major factor leading to overweight and obesity rates in Australia, which are not improving. An estimated 1 in 4 (25%) children and adolescents aged 2–17 were overweight or obese (1.2 million children and adolescents).

Children Obesity Trends

For adults, 2 in 3 (67%) Australians were overweight or obese (36% were overweight but not obese, and 31% were obese). That’s around 12.5 million adults. Men had higher rates of overweight and obesity then women (75% of men and 60% of women), and higher rates of obesity (33% of men and 30% of women).

The health impact of overweight and obesity does also carry a large burden to the community. In 2015, 8.4% of the total burden of disease in Australia was due to overweight and obesity. It also increases the likelihood of developing many chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, back problems, chronic kidney disease, dementia, diabetes, and some cancers. It is also associated with a higher death rate when looking at all causes of death.

Adult Obesity Trends

Now for some good news!

It is possible for everyone to take control of their activity levels in many cheap and easy ways. At Robina Physio on the Gold Coast we can help you get started in a safe and effective manner.

Exercise prescription is an integral part of physiotherapy practice and is clinically used to:

  • Optimise musculoskeletal strength and function
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness
  • Improve psychological well-being
  • Increase bone density
  • Decrease hospital length of stay
  • Speed rehabilitation
  • Prevent future injuries

Being physically active is important across all ages and contributes to healthy growth and development in children and adolescents. The physical activity guidelines help us provide evidence-based recommendations that outline the minimum amount of physical activity required for health benefits.

Children should aim for:

  • Energetic play (such as climbing, running, jumping and dancing)
  • Going for a swim, walk, jog or bike ride
  • Playing a sport like tennis, football or basketball

Children aged 2–5 should spend at least 180 minutes a day on a variety of physical activities, including energetic play, with no more than 60 minutes of screen time per day.

Children and young people aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day, and no more than 120 minutes of recreational screen time per day.

Kids Exercise Robina Physio


  • Should be active most days, preferably every day.
  • Accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise/activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise/activity each week.
  • 65 and over should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise/activity each day.
  • Include muscle-strengthening activities as part of your daily physical activity on at least 2 days each week. (e.g. push ups, squats, lifting objects etc)
  • If you are pregnant and you and your baby are healthy you should aim to meet the requirements for adults.
  • Keep in mind that any exercise or activity is better than none.

Exercise Robina Physio

As experts in exercise across the life span, physiotherapists play an important role in promoting, prescribing and managing exercise programs. Contact Us on (07) 55787233 or BOOK NOW so the team at Robina Physio on the Gold Coast can help get your activity and exercise journey started.