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Our Physiotherapists’ favourite exercises

Happy New Year and we all know that January marks the start of new efforts in terms of increasing our fitness (and this applies physios too!!!). Our physio and massage therapists have shared their favourite exercises in our blog this month – either the ones they use regularly with patients or the ones they enjoy using themselves.

More exercises to come in part 2 in next month’s blog and see the end of this blog for information on some of the classes on offer at our Inspire Rehab Gym at Ashbourne. 2022 let’s get fit!

Our use of digital exercise programmes has really enhanced our treatments over these past months and ‘Rehab My Patient’ has made our lives easier being so user friendly. All our programmes are tailored to individual patients and there are several hundred to choose from to get the exact one to help you the most. Exercises work alongside our manual therapy to get you back to what you love doing as soon as possible.

Lucy Langford:

Child Pose Variation Scoliosis Breathing

This exercise is my favourite because it can be helpful for many things. It is great for stiff backs, ribs and shoulders. It is a full stretch of the hips and lumbar spine in to flexion. Moving to the side helps to mobilise and separate your ribs, allowing you to take a fuller breath. It also helps to stretch the shoulders if they are stiff when reaching.

Kneel down on the mat, resting your buttocks on or towards your heels. As you keep your buttocks on your heels, glide your arms forwards along the floor or mat. Press your hands into the floor and try and relax further into the stretch along your spine. To target the concaved lumbar scoliosis curve, sink the hip of the shortened/concaved side backwards. To target a thoracic scoliosis, the arm on the concaved/shortened side can be reached towards the opposite arm with the hand placed on top, to create a side flexion stretch to the thoracic spine. Try and target your breath into the tighter shortened side of your thoracic spine to gain a release. Breathe continuously as you hold this stretch.

In order to do this exercise you must have full range of movement at your knee.

Dom Edwards:

Sit-Down Chair Squat

Stand up, and position yourself in front of a chair . Bend your knees to go into a squat position, as if you are going to sit down but don’t – touch your bottom on the chair. Then, push up and go back to the standing position. Throughout the exercise, keep your knee in-line with your foot, do not let your knee drift outwards or inwards. Also keep your hips and pelvis level as you squat, so you go down in a straight line. Be careful not to slump forwards as you squat, keep looking straight ahead.

This exercise can be made easier by sitting down on the chair between repetitions or using a higher chair. If you need to you can push off the chair using your hands, aiming to stop this once you are stronger.
The exercise can be made harder by progressing to using only 1 leg.

I like this exercise because it is functional, we all do it daily. No extra equipment is needed and we can easily fit it into our busy lives. It helps strengthen our legs and trunk.


Mark Breitschadel:

Prayer/Cat stretch

Start kneeling on all 4’s on your hands and knees.
Round your back into an arched position as you pull in your abdominal muscles. It should feel like a comfortable stretch in your spine. From this position sit back to your heels trying to maintain an arched back.
Move from this position towards your hands like trying to push a marble with your nose allowing your tummy to dip towards the floor raising your head to extend your back then returning to the starting position.

This is one of my preferred exercises as it incorporates fluid movements for the spine. It can be made easier by splitting it into its component parts:
1) cat/cow
2) child’s pose
3) extension in lying
I would use this for most back issues to add progressive movement

Lorna Short:


Stand with back against the wall with your feet 1 foot away from the wall and knees bent. Head does not need to be on the wall but do stand upright. Tuck your tail bone under into a pelvic tilt position so your low back flattens against the wall as much as possible. This will work your low abdominal muscles. Hold this position while raising one arm in front of you and over your head (don’t let your back off the wall). Bring this arm down as you raise the other.

As your abdominals get stronger you will be able to straighten your legs a little and perhaps stand a little closer to the wall. You can also increase the stretch through your rib cage by reaching up with the arm once it is overhead.

This exercise can be done almost anywhere in short bursts and counteracts that slouched sitting posture (which we all know too well) making it ideal for those who sit/drive for long periods. You will feel your thighs working a little to help strengthen the legs and your core/abdominal muscles will get a work out. Stretching your arms above your head will help straighten out the spine and this also assists expanding your lungs for a really good re-energised feeling.

Ania Williamson:

Single Leg Balance Standing Unsupported

Try doing this exercise in front of a mirror, hands on your hips. Draw in your lower tummy muscles as shown in your session – you should feel like you are flattening your back and lifting your belt up at the front. Now slowly transfer your weight over to one leg, keep that muscle engagement switched on. It can be helpful to engage your bottom muscles as well.

Hold this position and make sure you are keeping your hips nice and level – having your hands on your hips can be really helpful to see this easily. You want to avoid ‘hitching’ your hip up. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly lower you leg down and repeat to the other side.

To make easier – you can lightly touch the toe of the other foot to the ground so you are not fully standing on 1 leg.
To make harder – try closing your eyes

Repeat for 1-2 minutes each day.

This is one of my favourite exercises because standing on one leg improves balance, strength (abdominals and legs), posture and body awareness. It is a key target to improve when rehabilitating from injury, with back pain, injury prevention and performance enhancement in many sports, as well as falls/injury prevention in more vulnerable adults.

I specifically ask all patients to focus on pelvic position to encourage their gluteal and core muscles to engage effectively. I also like to use a mirror to give patients more feedback on their position.

It is an easy exercise to make easier or harder to meet the patient’s abilities.

Hayley Sheard:

Open Book

This exercise is also known as side lying rainbow.

Lie on your side, with your bottom leg straight, and your top leg resting on two pillows to keep your leg in alignment with your pelvis. Place your arms and hands together. Slowly rotate your upper back as you open your arms and shoulders as far as feels comfortable. Your bottom arm remains on the floor. As you open your arms, you follow your hand with your eyes. You should feel a stretch to your upper back, chest and shoulder.

I use this personally and recommend it often when working with clients with an achy/stiff upper back. It is also great for those who are desk based or struggle with rounded shoulders. It also encourages people to work with their breath – breathing in at the start point and opening out on the out breath. This makes it quite relaxing! Win Win! I find I am most comfortable lying with both knees bent with a cushion in between if necessary.


Linda Smith:

These 3 exercises help to strengthen the spine, shoulders and hips and help to improve posture. Linda uses them herself as she finds them quick and easy to do at any time of the day “they keep my body loose and nimble and improve mental health and posture.”

Side Stretch – Suryasana

Stand up straight. Interlace your fingers with your palms facing upwards, or take hold of the opposite wrist. Raise your arms above your head. Bend to the right, then come back to centre and bend to the left. Repeat as required.



Kneeling Back Arch

Kneel on the floor or a mat. Tuck your tail bone in, lift your chest and pull the shoulders down. Lift your arms above your head and gently press your palms together. Look up towards your hands and bend backwards. You can gradually increase the stretch over time. If you find this challenging keep your palms apart.



Cat Pose – Marjaryasana

Kneel on the floor or a mat with your palms flat on the floor, hands underneath your shoulders. Drawing the abdominals in, arch your back and curve your spine upwards as much as you can.


Our Class Instructors

We are lucky to work alongside some great movement and exercise instructors and patients who have recently finished a course of physiotherapy, are ready for the next stage of rehabilitation and keen to attend a class, will be referred into the classes with a written explanation of the individual’s requirements and current exercise level. Thus, you can be confident that the exercises are at the correct level for you and your body.

Classes are back with regular sessions but with Covid measures in place to keep everyone safe. Here is information on some of the classes we currently offer – why not give one a go?

Becky Britchford

Who am I?
I run my Pilates with a Twist classes with a lot of humour, kindness, acceptance, understanding and creativity (I have an arts background).
I have been teaching Pilates for around 20 years now, initially teaching ‘traditional’ Pilates and then evolving that as I started to add in the extra knowledge and awareness that came with with my AiM functional movement training and MovNat training, as well as an occasional nod toward the Feldenkrais way of experiencing the body. These additions are one way of describing what the ‘Twist’ in Pilates with a Twist, is.

Who is Pilates with a Twist for?
The classes are great for those that feel that they no longer understand their body or have ‘fallen out’ with it, often due to pain, injury or surgery. People who feel they’re getting stiff, or have poor balance, particularly benefit from the classes. Everyone works at their own level – the classes are mixed ability (although some classes are better suited to some people than others). The age range tends to be between 40 and 70, although I do have clients who are younger or older. There are many men who now attend the classes too. The classes also suit those who like variety – no two weeks are the same.

What is the aim?
For me, the aim is to reconnect people with their body – re-establish a dialogue with it, encourage respect and understanding for it and rebalance it, all whilst strengthening and mobilising it, improving function and stability and having a sense of humour as we do it. People are often amazed at how quickly the hour goes by!


07970 022101

or for more details please see

Carmela D’Afflitto

I have been in the health and fitness industry for 35 years and qualified in Pilates 21 years.

The mechanics of the human body has always fascinated me and Pilates certainly makes you aware of this incredible factor.

I am committed to providing quality professional instruction and explanation why certain exercises are performed and the benefits in the method of Classical/Clinical Pilates. It is important to me that participants are aware of what they are striving to achieve with each exercise but also their goals in attending the Pilates classes.

We are only given one body and one mind so we need to do what we can to be happy and pain free having good core strength, good posture, stability, flexibility, and freedom of movement through doing regular Pilates.


07973 921722

Victoria Turner

Hello, I am Victoria Turner and I trained with BASI (Body Arts and Science International) in London in 2015. I am qualified to teach both on the mat and on studio Pilates equipment. I have been teaching at the Ashbourne Physios since 2016.

My Pilates mat teaching encompasses all over body conditioning using small props, namely resistance bands, overballs and hand weights. The content of the class varies weekly and exercises can always be modified to accommodate any injuries or restrictions.

The Tuesday afternoon class I teach is a level 2 class where the people have been practicing Pilates for quite a while. Before joining the class I might recommend a few 1:1 lessons on Zoom with me so as to avoid injury, unless you have Pilates experience and a good level of fitness!

It is extremely rewarding work seeing people improve with their overall mobility, strength and flexibility and it is a pleasure to teach in the Inspire Rehab Centre.


07977 205881

June Holden

Welcome to Tai Chi Movement for Wellbeing. Here is some background information before you start your class:

What is TMW (Tai Chi Movements for Wellbeing)?

TMW (Tai Chi Movements for Wellbeing) is a specially developed sequence of movements which promotes physical and emotional health and wellbeing. TMW is embodied mindfulness which aims to bring presence, relaxation, emotional stability, and self-worth to the participant.

What is the relationship between Tai Chi and TMW?

Tai Chi (Chuan) is a martial art that is complex, physically demanding and takes many years to perfect. Chi Kung (Qi Gong) is an art based on the meridian systems and acupuncture points which also requires deep study.

TMW is Tai Chi movement taken from the traditions of Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung. It distils elements of these complex arts into simple series of movements, offering many of the benefits of traditional Tai Chi whilst remaining simple and easy to learn. The gentle movements aim to improve self-confidence, flexibility and balance and is suitable for all ages. It can be done sitting or standing. DVD / Booklet provided to support your learning.


07802 411879

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