Exercising in the gym - Cambridge Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic

How to start exercising after a long break

Cambridge Physiotherapy clinic - gym advice and exercises

The news that gyms are likely to re-open soon is exciting but might also feel a little intimidating after such a long break.

Having a fitness plan means that you are less likely to overdo things in the early stages (which might cause an injury) and more likely to stick with it, until grabbing your gym bag becomes part of your regular routine again.

Consistency is the key to restoring your fitness and strength and if you haven’t done much exercise recently, then don’t wait until the gyms are actually open to get started. Even a little bit of training at home will help you bridge the gap between lockdown and your usual class or weights session.

First choose an activity you enjoy – for example a quick walk, a light jog or a gentle bike ride – and keep moving for up to 20 minutes, at least three times a week. If you aren’t breaking a light sweat after 10 minutes, then you need to move a bit faster. If you like running, take a look at our modified Couch to 5K programme for more ideas.

After a couple of weeks, add in some light strengthening exercises. Common areas that people injure at the gym are the shoulders and knees. So the exercises I have recommended below are designed to build a scaffold of muscular support around these particular joints. You can do these exercises at home or in the park with a resistance band, so long as you don’t currently have an injury. If you do, get some advice first before starting any fitness programme.

Shoulder strengthening exercises

Repeat each of these exercises 15 times slowly with really good control and form:

  • Front raises and side raises with a band

Place a resistance band under your feet and hold each end. Breathe out and lift your arms up in front of you until your hands are at shoulder height, pulling on the band. Lower slowly. Then lift your arms out to the side, again to 90 degrees. Alternate between front and side raises.

  • Brugger with elbows bent with a band

Wrap the ends of the band around your hands and start with your elbows bent to 90 degrees. Draw your shoulder blades together and spread your hands apart, pulling on the band. Straighten your arms keeping your shoulders, so your arms reach out to the side and the band is pulled tight across your chest. Then return slowly again.


  • Upright rowing with a band

Place a resistance band under your feet again, cross the ends over and hold in each hand. Pull the band up to to your chin with your elbows high. Lower again slowly and repeat.

Knee strengthening exercises

Repeat each of these exercises 15 times slowly too:


  • Squats

Slowly lower your body into a squat position as if you were going to sit into a chair, keeping yours knee roughly in line with your feet. Push through your heels to rise.

  • Step ups

Stand with one foot on a step (or park bench) and shift forwards over this foot. Step up slowly, keeping your knee cap in line with your foot. Keep your pelvis as level as possible.

  • Lunges

Put one foot in front of you and walk it out to the side slightly so it doesn’t feel like you are walking a tightrope. Lower your back knee towards the floor, keeping your front knee in line with your foot. Push through your front heel to rise.

If you can’t yet do these or feel you need more help please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Physiofit team.


Patient running on the treadmill at Physiofit - Cambridge Physiotherapy and Sports Injury clinic

How to exercise safely and prevent injuries

Patient exercising on a treadmill at a physiotherapy clinic

If ‘getting fitter’ is one of your New Year’s resolutions this year, then you’re in good company. However, there’s nothing worse then an injury to derail your best intentions.

Aches, pains and potentially avoidable sports injuries are common reasons for giving up. So to create an exercise habit which lasts and to avoid injuries, my first bit of advice would be to steer clear of online exercise fads or challenges which promise results in six weeks. Aim to be active everyday and instead choose a type of exercise that you enjoy, which can easily fit in around your lifestyle. Even working out just once a week is 100% better than not exercising at all, so make a realistic plan and stick to it. It’s also less tempting to skip a session if you’ve been consistent and you can easily increase your training if you have more time.

A significant number of sports injuries we see here in clinic can be put down to ‘training error’, meaning a rapid increase in training or activity without giving your body enough time to adapt.

Your cardiovascular system (heart and lungs) will respond far more quickly to your new exercise regime than your musculoskeletal system (muscles, tendons and bones). So you might feel ‘fitter’ quite quickly and be able to train harder and longer as your cardiovascular system rises quickly to the challenge. Your musculoskeletal system, however, will be much slower to respond and may be overloaded and injured if it is worked too hard or too fast without enough time to adapt.

Developing an injury this way can make you feel mentally deflated and really put a dent in your confidence to exercise. The key is to give your body time to adjust, increase your activity at a steady pace and make sure you are building up appropriate muscle strength and endurance at the same time.

We’re offering a free 7-day trial of our physiotherapist-led online pilates programme which you can access here. This is a great way to build flexibility, strength and control to support any exercise programme. We also offer tailored fitness programmes in our gym if lifting weights or kettle bells is your thing.

Ultimately, we want you to be able to enjoy exercise that enhances your life and helps you feel happier and healthier, without injury.

Please get in touch if you think we can help.


The Physiofit Team

Sports Therapy or Physiotherapy - Physiofit - Cambridge Physiotherapy and Sports Injury clinic

Sports Therapy or Physiotherapy - what's the difference?

Sports Therapy or Physiotherapy - what's the best treatment

Faced with a choice between Physiotherapy, Sports Therapy, Osteopathy, Chiropractic treatment and many other practitioners, it’s no wonder that most people with an injury will opt to see someone a friend has recommended to them.

In fact, most of our patients contact us after a word of mouth recommendation and many don’t really know what the differences are between these professions.

What’s the difference between a Sports Therapist and a Physiotherapist?

This is a question I have been asked increasingly frequently and indeed it can be important to make a distinction between these two professions, so I’ll try to answer it in this blog post.

One of the main jobs of a Sports Therapist is to be able to turn a regular person or injured athlete into someone capable of the complex activities involved in competition sport. This might be working with individuals or teams.

However, Sports Therapy is not a regulated profession in the UK, so unfortunately anyone can call themselves a Sports Therapist. This must be incredibly frustrating for those practitioners who have completed a degree and have significant experience in this field. However, it does mean that you should carefully check that your therapist is properly qualified and bear in mind that most private insurance companies will not cover the cost of treatment with a Sports Therapist.

If your Sports Therapist has a degree then you can be confident that they have comprehensive knowledge and training in sports-focused prehab, rehab and sports massage techniques, with up to 200 hours of hands-on skills training. In the UK, registration with the Society of Sports Therapists also seems to be a good indicator of a well-qualified practitioner.

Physiotherapists however have a broader medical training through their degree, covering not only sports and musculoskeletal injuries and rehab but also degenerative conditions, diseases, surgical procedures, neurological issues and elderly care. Every Physiotherapist will complete over 1000 hours of clinical work before they qualify and this means that they have a greater understanding of the overall medical management of a patient.


Physiotherapy is also a legally protected title. You may only call yourself a Physiotherapist if you have completed the degree programme and meet the strict criteria required to register with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). You can check whether your physiotherapist is registered with the HCPC here.


In order to maintain registration with the HCPC, Physiotherapists must also complete regular training and produce evidence every year that they are aware of the latest treatment techniques, procedures, medical developments and advances.

Should I see a Sports Therapist or a Physiotherapist?

As Sports Therapists generally focus on musculoskeletal rehab and have a sports focused background, this might appeal to you if you’re aiming to get back to sport.

That said, many Physios specialise in treating sports injuries, sport-specific rehab and injury prevention through strength and conditioning programmes.

So I’d recommend you choose your practitioner based on their individual skills and experience and your own personal reasons for seeking treatment.

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch,

The Physiofit Team

Physiotherapist examining a patient with back and spinal pain - Cambridge

Simple spinal mobility exercises to reduce pain and help you move better

Physiotherapist examining a patient with back and spinal pain - Cambridge

Why is thoracic mobility important?

The middle part of your back is called your thoracic spine and it does naturally have a bit less movement than other part of your spine like your neck or lower back because it supports your ribcage. However, daily habits and sedentary working often increases the natural stiffness in your upper back, causing shoulder and neck pain and it can even prevent you from standing fully upright or restrict your breathing.

So maintaining good flexibility in your thoracic spine will really reduce pain and improve the way you move so that these other part of your body don’t have to compensate.

How to loosen your spine and improve mobility

These are five of my favourite exercises to help you loosen your upper back, release and stretch out tight muscles and improve your spinal mobility:

Foam rolling your upper back

Foam rolling upper back for thoracic mobility

Place your roller between shoulder blades and link your fingers behind your head and wrap your elbows around the side of your head, so your skull is supported by your hands. Hover your pelvis and uses your feet to press and pull to roll your spine up and down on the roller a comfortable distance for up to 1 minute.

Book opening

Book opening exercise for increasing thoracic rotation - physiotherapy exercise programme

End position for book opening exercise - Cambridge Physiotherapy exercise programme


Lay on your side with both arms pointing in front of you with hands together. Breathe out and turn your ribcage towards the ceiling, allowing your arm to raise and follow the movement until you feel a stretch in your chest. Keep your knees on the floor. At the end of the movement, take a deep breath in and as you breathe out, rotate back to your start position again. Repeat 6-8 times each side

Cat / camel

Cat stretch for upper back and spinal mobility Camel stretch for upper back and spinal stiffness - restore movement

Get onto your hands and knees. Breathe out and curve your spine until you feel a stretch in your mid back, breathe in and allow your spine to arch the other way. Try to keep your elbows straight throughout the movement.

Side to side child pose

Side flexion stretch for spinal mobility

After you’ve finished the cat/ camel stretch, take your hands to one side of your mat and drop your pelvis back to touch your heels and stretch through the side of your spine. Take a deep breath in to increase the stretch and repeat on the other side. 5 reps each side.

Rotate and reach

Rotate and reach exercise for thoracic mobility - physiotherapy Cambridge  

Stay on your hands and knees. As you exhale, slide your right hand underneath your left and turn your ribcage to reach through. Keep your left arm and elbow strong, tall and straight. Inhale as you return back and lift your elbow to turn the ribcage away from your support arm. Repeat 6 to 8 times on each side. Keep the movement slow and controlled.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions at all about how to improve thoracic stiffness.

The Physiofit team.

Physio Studio Cambridge

Coronavirus Protocol - Physiotherapy Cambridge


Clinic reopening policy- Cambridge Physiotherapy

Covid-19 protocol for face-to-face physiotherapy treatments

From Monday 25th May, we are reopening our physiotherapy clinic and will be offering limited face-to-face appointments alongside our current physiotherapy video consultation service.

Following guidance from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, we will ask all patients who contact us to complete a short physiotherapy and health screen over the phone before arranging a face-to-face appointment at our clinic. For this reason, I'm sorry but we will not be able to accept online bookings.

Instead, if you want to make an appointment, please call us directly on 01223 914140. Our office is now open seven days a week and we'll be able to discuss with you the risks of a face-to-face appointment and the measures we have put in place to minimise that risk. We will also run through what we will ask you to do to protect other patients attending the clinic as well as our staff (the details are outlined below).

For those patients who attend clinic, please know that we are implementing the strictest protocols around infection control through social distancing, PPE and general clinic hygiene.

We will also be resuming our home visit service from next week (Monday, May 25th) so please call us if you would like to arrange a home visit.

Social distancing and PPE

Please do not come into the building before your appointment time, unless you need to use the bathroom. Please wait in the courtyard outside our clinic instead.

If you are travelling to our clinic by car, please wait in your car and your physio will come out to meet you at the entrance to the clinic.

If you are cycling or walking, please wait in the courtyard garden, at least two meters from any other patient.

Our treatment rooms are much larger than most other clinics, so we are able to remain a safe distance from you during the initial part of your consultation. If hands-on treatment is required and it is not possible to maintain social distancing, then your physio will use a face mask and gloves.

To safeguard our staff, we are asking everyone to wear a facemask or face covering to appointments. If you do not have one, we can supply you with a disposable mask (there will be a small charge of £1.00 for this).

Clinic hygiene and cleaning

We will ask you to use antibacterial gel on your hands at the beginning and end of your appointments.

We will be cleaning the treatment rooms with 70% alcohol and disinfectant for 15 minutes between each and every appointment, along with heavy traffic areas such as door handles, rails and the bathroom. Windows will also be opened between appointments to encourage ventilation.

Payments methods

We will not be able to accept cash payments.

Video Physiotherapy consultations

We will continue to be able to offer you physiotherapy treatment remotely by video consultation if you are shielding or self-isolating.

Please get in touch if you have any questions at all, we're very happy to help in any way.

The Physiofit Team

















Couch to 5K running programme

How to run pain free - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K running programmes - physiotherapy advice

Running is a great form of exercise. It’s free, requires a relatively low level of skill, it improves your cardiovascular fitness and it’s good for your mental health.

Couch-to-5K type running programmes are brilliant motivators but I do find that they increase a bit rapidly for some people and don’t always give enough time for your muscles, tendons and ligaments to adapt before you are encouraged to move onto the next stage in the programme. This has the potential to overload these soft tissues causing pain and putting a dent in your confidence.

So if you are a complete beginner starting one of these programmes, my advice would be to pause at the end of every second week and repeat it, before moving on. For example:

Week 1:

Alternate 60 secs of running with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes

Week 2:

Alternate 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking, for 20 minutes

Week 3:

Alternate 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking, for 20 minutes

Week 4:

90 seconds running, 90 seconds walking, 3 minutes running, 3 minutes walking (repeat twice)

Week 5:

3 minutes of running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running, 2 ½ minutes walking, 3 minutes running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running.

Week 6:

3 minutes of running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running, 2 ½ minutes walking, 3 minutes running, 90 seconds walking, 5 minutes running.

And so on.

Warming up properly will also reduce your chances of injury. The ‘brisk 5 minute walk’ programmes like this often recommend will raise your body temperature but a few carefully chosen exercises to mobilise your ankle joints and activate the muscles which will promote an efficient and coordinated running pattern will be more effective. Try this short programme of exercises which can be used to build strength and control around your knee joints but would also be a great warm-up routine for runners:

Finally, if you do experience any aches and pains during or after a run and they don’t settle within 3 to 5 days, you don’t necessarily have to abandon your running completely. If your symptoms are mild, there’s no swelling and you can walk and move normally, then try stepping back to one or two weeks in the programme and try again. If everything goes well and there is no significant increase in your symptoms, then stick at this level in the programme until you are running pain-free again before moving forward a week.

Get in touch if you have any questions at all about your running,

The Physiofit Team.

Related articles:

How to start exercising after a long break 

Sports Therapy or Physiotherapy - what's the difference?

Rehab for runner's knee

Physiotherapy for headaches

Neck treatment for a person suffering from headaches

Having a headache is very common, in fact around 50% of adults suffer from significant headaches more than once per month.

However, this doesn’t make it normal and if your headache is triggered by your neck (cervicogenic) then effective treatment with an experienced physiotherapist is available.

Cervicogenic headache symptoms

If your headache is caused primarily by your neck you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Neck pain which builds into a headache.
  • Headache is affected by posture or specific physical activities
  • Headache that increases with neck movement
  • A restriction in the movement in your neck

The location or pattern of pain may be variable but it’s common to experience pain at the base of your skull which travels up and over your head, pain in your forehead or temples or behind your eyes.

Cervicogenic headaches are often on one side of your head but can spread to both sides or alternate from one side to the other. Some people will also experience some dizziness, changes in vision, nausea and ringing in ears

Self help, treatment and exercises for cervicogenic headaches

Heat pack – placing a hot water bottle or wheat bag round your neck and shoulders will help to relax muscle tension.

Massage ball neck release – sellotape two tennis balls together and lie on your back with the balls positioned at the base of your skull. Use a towel to stop them from moving around and gentle rest the weight of your head on the balls so they apply pressure to any painful spots at the base of your skull:

Using tennis ball to release pressure at the base of the skull to relieve headache

Chest stretch - stand in a doorframe and place your forearms on the frame, just below shoulder height. Lean into the doorway to stretch your chest muscles. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

Stretch for shoulders

Shoulder shrugs – Face a wall and place the side of your hands on the wall (starting in the W position). Slide your hands up the wall (ending in the Y position). Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and lower them again. Repeat 10 times slowlyshoulder exercise for people with headaches

Posture – if you have a desk-based job check that your work station is set optimally for you and set a timer to remind you to get up and move around regularly throughout the day. Keep your neck gently on the move in all directions, little and often.



If your headaches started recently or there has been a significant change in your usual headache symptoms, please consult your GP before starting any treatment programme.

And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions,

The Physiofit Team

Ankle Sprain - recovery time and exercises

Ankle sprain with ice pack

Ankle sprains are incredibly common and most people will experience a sprain at some point during their lifetime. They are one of the most common sports injuries, especially those involving running or jumping. However, they can just as easily occur walking along a pavement or misplacing your foot stepping off a curb.

The most common form of ankle sprain is an ‘inversion’ injury. This is where your ankle rolls inwards, injuring the ligaments around the outside of your ankle.

Ligament injuries are classified according to their severity from a grade 1 injury, where a few fibres in the ligament are injured, to a grade 4 injury where the ligament is completely torn. Most people will experience a sprain which would be classified between grades 1 and 3. These respond well to physiotherapy treatment but while they are generally not serious, correct rehabilitation is important to prevent longstanding ankle issues.

Recovery time and best treatment for an ankle sprain

For the first 2-3 days after an ankle sprain the focus should be on controlling pain. Tissue healing can take 6-8 weeks to get fully underway, so don’t be concerned if you’re not back to normal within a week or two.

The key thing to remember in the first few days is relative rest … keep your ankle gently moving but stay off it as much as possible. If you are limping it might be helpful to use a walking aid (crutches, a walking stick or a hiking pole) for a few days.

Your ankle is likely to feel warm and swollen, this is normal and required to help your soft tissues heal. You may also experience some bruising around your ankle and this can track through the tissues into your foot. It’s important to let your inflammatory response run it’s course for the first 48 hours as this kick-starts the next stage of tissue healing. Avoid anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen as these can delay tissue healing if taken at this stage. If you require painkillers speak to your GP or a pharmacist about paracetamol or codeine.

Sprained ankle exercises

In the first week the key exercises are gentle range of movement exercises. Although it will be painful, you need to keep your ankle moving. Do this a little every hour but do not push right through pain:

  • Ankle bend – in sitting, gently pull your foot up towards you then return to neutral. Repeat 5-10 times.Ankle exercises
  • Ankle point – in sitting, gently point your foot away from you the return to neutral. Repeat 5-10 times.Toes point downwards - ankle exercise
  • Foot turn in – in sitting, gently move your foot inwards then return to neutral. Repeat 5-10 timesToes point inwards - ankle exercise
  • Foot turn out – in sitting, gently move your foot outwards then return to neutral. Repeat 5-10 times.Toes point outwards - ankle exercise


If you experienced significant swelling within a few minutes of injuring your ankle  and you are unable to put any weight at all through your foot or ankle you the it’s possible that you may have suffered a fracture as opposed to a sprain. If you go to your local A&E an x-ray can be completed to confirm whether this has occurred.

If you have any questions at all, please get in touch,

The Physiofit Team!


Plantar fasciitis - causes, symptoms, treatment and exercises

Heel pain

If the first few steps of each day feel you’re like walking on broken glass, then it’s possible you have a condition called plantar faciitis (a.k.a plantar fasciopathy).

This stubborn condition comes on gradually, causing acute heel pain after resting and without treatment these symptoms can linger on for for a long time and periodically recur.

What is plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue connecting your heel and the base of your toes, which supports the arch of your foot when you move around. Accumulative strain in the plantar fascia can cause pain over time, either in your heel or in your instep (or both). The clinical term for this is plantarfaciitis.

As with most overuse injuries, there are usually several underlying factors which all have the potential to contribute to this issue such as:

  1. Low arches in your feet
  2. Stiff ankle joints or tight calf muscles
  3. Weakness of the deep muscles in the soles of your feet
  4. Poor strength around your hips

What are the best exercises for plantar fasciitis?

A physiotherapist will be able to examine you for all the underlying factors and provide you with an effective treatment programme targeting the problems which are specific to you.

In the short-term you will need to avoid or decrease any activities that flare up your heel pain. A gel insert to support your heel can also be helpful, particularly if you are wearing work shoes.

Warm up your feet using a spiked ball:

Heel pain exercise

 Strength training

Before you start, roll up a towel and lift up onto tip toes. At the top of the movement your toes should be pressed back as far as they can be, if not adjust the thickness of the towel:

Strength training to reduce heel pain

This exercise must be completed slowly, three seconds going up, two seconds pause at the top and three seconds coming down.

You need to establish the heaviest weight you can lift onto tip toes - for one repetition - giving it your maximum effort. This is your one-repetition maxmimum (1RM).

This might simply be your body weight with both feet on the ground or on one leg, as you get stronger you can use a backpack and add books to the pack to increase the load.

Start with 12RM for three sets, every other day. After two weeks increase the load as recommended above but reduce the number of repetitions to 10 RM for four sets. At four weeks, increase the load again and complete 8RM for 5 sets. Continue the exercises adding more load as you get stronger until you reach three months, even if your heel pain resolves in the meantime (you don’t want it to come back again).

It’s nothing to worry about you experience some pain during this exercise but it shouldn’t persist afterwards or cause a flare up in your symptoms later.

Calf stretchesCalf stretch 1

Cake stretch 2

Stretch out your calf muscles, hold each stretch for 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat three times:

Nerve glidingNerve gliding exercise

Lie on your back with your knee bent and bend your ankle. Turn the sole of your foot outwards and holding this position bend and straight your knee. Repeat up to 30 times within a comfort zone.

Plantar Fascia stretch Stretch for the plantar fascia 

Take hold of your toes and bend them backwards until you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot. Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times, up to three times per day.


The take home message is that plantar faciitis responds well to treatment but you have to be diligent with your exercises or they won’t be effective.

Plantarfaciits also responds well to shockwave therapy but this is also more effective if you have a strong rehab programme in place.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions,

The Physiofit Team!

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

BPPV article

One of the most common causes of dizziness is a condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) which affects the motion sensors inside your inner ear causing vertigo.

Our patient’s often experience short episodes of dizziness (lasting less than 60 seconds) which are triggered when they move their head into different positions. Rolling over in bed is quite a common trigger, but really any activity involving a change of head position can cause symptoms.

Some people also experience nausea with the dizziness, but it’s not normally associated with headaches, hearing loss, altered mental ability, loss of consciousness or visual disturbances. So if you have any additional symptoms or your dizziness follows a different pattern, we’d recommend seeing your GP first.

What causes BPPV?

Your inner ear has three circular strutures (canals) filled with fluid which work a bit like a spirit level to sense motion and determine the position of your head.

Small crystals which are naturally present in your ear canals can become detached after an injury like whiplash, after an infection or as a result of aging. These crystals disturb the motion sensors in the ear canals, causing false signals and vertigo.

Anyone can develop BPPV but it’s more common in women and the number of cases increases every decade as we age.

How can we test for BPPV?

Whilst BPPV can have a huge impact on quality of life and can feel very disconcerting, it is actually quick and easy to diagnose and treat.

Your GP or an experienced physiotherapist will be able to tell whether you have BPPV by completing a Dix-Hallpike test. It’s non-invasive and very quick to perform.

The clinician will move you from a siting to a lying while moving your head into to a certain position. If BPPV is present, this will trigger your vertigo symptoms along with nystagmus (a rapid flickering of your eyes). These symptoms will resolve within 60 seconds.

BPPV does resolve slowly on its own but the recommended treatment (Epley Manouvere) only takes a few minutes and your symptoms are likely to be fully resolved in 2-3 sessions. It’s very quick and effective and actually quite a similar procedure to the Dix-Hallpike test, where the clinician makes  specific changes of your head position whilst you are lying down to move the crystals out of the ear canals.

If you suspect you are suffering from BPPV or have any further questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch,

The Physiofit Team!