Should I exercise If I'm Sick? Advice From Our Exercise Physiologist

With winter being well and truly upon us, as an exercise physiologist, I regularly get asked If you should still exercise if you feel yourself getting sick or if you're just not feeling great.

Should you push on with your normal exercise load in the hope it might help your immune system shake off the illness? Or will that stress your body and make it worse?

As a general rule of thumb, it is okay to continue exercising when sick.  Exercise can be modified to reduce the intensity and length of your activity to ensure you don't miss a workout e.g walking instead of running or bodyweight training instead of a heavy weights session. With winter in full swing and seeing an increase in common colds/bugs, it's best to avoid exercise if your symptoms are chest down e.g you have a fever, feel high levels of fatigue or you are experiencing widespread muscle aches. If you are feeling run down or under the weather, avoid group exercise to ensure you are not passing on bugs to vulnerable clients and your trainer. 

Exercise is a great tool for strengthening your immune system, however, you don't want to overload. Remember to stay hydrated, prioritise sleep, and alter your training load until you're back to 100%. Your Exercise Physiologist will be able to manage/alter your exercise workload and help you attain your goals after a well-needed rest.

If you need guidance with exercise or wanting a specific exercise program tailored to your injuries, health status and goals, contact our exercise physiologists to discuss how they can help you.

Written by Exercise Physiologist Lauren Sexton

Lauren graduated from the University Of The Sunshine Coast completing a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Science. Predominately working in private practice since graduating, Lauren has developed a clinical interest in geriatrics, weight loss/chronic disease management and injury prevention/rehabilitation.

As well as working in clinical settings, Lauren has also had experience in education (Certificate III and IV in fitness), clinical Pilates, sports performance enhancement (soccer) and sports training.

Lauren is driven by patients achieving their personal goals, returning to enjoyable activities and modifying the risk of morbidity to lead a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Lauren is available for Exercise Physiology appointments at our Woolloongabba location.




Healthy Recipe From A Dietitian: Gut-Loving Minestrone Soup

Want an easy to make winter warmer? Look no further. 🥰👩🏼‍🍳

It’s getting a little chilly and I have jumped at the opportunity to make my favourite, gut-loving soup, Minestrone! These bowls have 16 different plant foods! Adding a soup mix like this one is a great way to boost the fiber and plant protein content of your meals! 🌿🌱

The largest international gut study published in 2018 found that people who consume upwards of 30 different plant foods per week had greater gut microbe diversity! 👩🏼‍🔬🦠

Here’s the recipe:
1 cup Italian Soup Mix
3 cups water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ brown onion, sliced
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 carrot, diced
1 small potato, diced
½ zucchini, diced
100g frozen spinach
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 cups water
1 stock cube
½ tsp oregano
Pinch of basil
Pinch of parmesan

1. Prepare the soup mix as per packet instructions.
In a medium saucepan add the olive oil, garlic and onion. Once translucent, add the potato, carrot, tomato paste, stock and water. Cook for 10 minutes.
2. Add the spinach, zucchini and season with oregano. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.
3. Once ready to serve, dish into bowls and top with parmesan cheese and basil 🧀🌱. Voilà!!

The best part about minestrone is that you can use almost any veggies you have that are looking a little sad in the crisper! 🥴🍆🍅🥕🌽

Written by Dietitian Chelsea McCallum

Chelsea McCallum is a Dietitian at Sports and Spinal Physiotherapy. Chelsea is passionate about empowering clients to transform their health and prevent chronic disease. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Chelsea has experience in a wide range of nutrition areas such as weight management, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, malnutrition and sports nutrition. All patients are welcomed including GP referred, NDIS, DVA, Work Cover and privately paying. Chelsea is available for Dietitian appointments online as well as at our Chermside, Woolloongabba, Springfield and North Lakes locations.


Tips From Our Dietitian: Lowering LDL Cholesterol

Chelsea is one of our superstar dietitians, and she is passionate about sharing her tips on how to lower bad cholesterol.

Do you screw your nose up at the suggestion of Statins?

You may be surprised to know that you can lower your low-density lipoproteins or ‘bad cholesterol’ with cost-effective and easily accessible products from the supermarket.

Cue, plant sterols!

Plant sterols (phytosterols, phytostanols and their fatty acid esters) are cholesterol-like substances that occur naturally at low levels in fruits, vegetables, nuts and cereals.

Most Australians consume between 150 and 360 milligrams of plant sterols naturally every day, depending on their diet. When eaten in higher amounts, between 2-3 grams per day, plant sterols can naturally reduce LDL cholesterol by inhibiting LDL absorption.

Consuming 2-3g of plant sterols daily is not achievable without therapeutic foods. Available in Australian supermarkets are several options to achieve this dose.


Taking into consideration the dose of plant sterols and cost, most patients choose the fortified spreads or Weet-Bix. Unfortunately, the Heart Active milk is the most expensive and provides the smallest dose.

See below fasting types of blood from a patient who took two Cholesterol-Lowering Weet-Bix with fat-reduced milk daily. LDL cholesterol was reduced by 27% in 8 weeks. Of course, we would like to see their LDL cholesterol further. However, this is a great achievement without the addition of Statins. Food for thought.

Meet Chelsea

Chelsea McCallum is a Dietitian at Sports and Spinal Physiotherapy. Chelsea is passionate about empowering clients to transform their health and prevent chronic disease. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of the Sunshine Coast, Chelsea has experience in a wide range of nutrition areas such as weight management, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, malnutrition and sports nutrition. All patients are welcomed including GP referred, NDIS, DVA, Work Cover and privately paying. Chelsea is available for Dietitian appointments online as well as at our Chermside, Woolloongabba, Springfield and North Lakes locations.


Healthy Winter Recipe From A Dietitian: Mushroom Stroganoff with Wild Rice

Our Accredited Dietitian Tarni shares her healthy warm winter recipe, Mushroom Stroganoff with wild rice.


  • 800g Portabello mushrooms
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs
  • 2 tbsp reduced-salt tomato paste
  • 120g kale, shredded
  • Handful parsley, chopped
  • 200g broccoli, chopped
  • 1 small packet microwavable wild rice mix
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500mL vegetable or chicken stock
  • 100g low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp reduced-salt soy sauce
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard



  1. Heat olive oil in frying pan, add onions, herbs, mushroom, and stir to combine. Saute for ~10min until mushrooms are cooked. Add tomato pasta and stir through.
  2. Add stock, soy sauce and dijon mustard. Add kale and stir until wilted. Dissolve cornflour in 3 tbsp water and add to the pan. Cook until sauce is thick, then remove from heat and stir in yoghurt.
  3. Add broccoli to pan and cook until tender and bright green in colour. Meanwhile, place wild rice packet into microwave and cook as per instructions.
  4. Serve rice and stroganoff and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!


Meet Dietitian Tarni

Tarni is an Accredited Practising Dietitian who is passionate about improving health, promoting recovery and preventing disease by inspiring healthy diet and lifestyle choices using a patient-centred approach. Graduating from the University of the Sunshine Coast with a Bachelor of Nutrition & Dietetics, Tarni has since had clinical experience working with acute cardiac and respiratory patients in hospital. Special interest areas include rehabilitation, weight management, cardiovascular disease, gut health and sports nutrition.

Outside of work, Tarni enjoys hiking, climbing mountains, exploring new places, drawing and photography. She is always experimenting with new foods, recipes and keeping up to date with the latest research in nutrition and dietetics.

Tarni is available for Dietetic appointments at our CaloundraWoolloongabbaChermside and Springfield locations.

Outrunning The Covid-19 Blues: Running Tips By Accredited Exercise Physiologist

Our Accredited Exercise Physiologist Matthew shares his tips on how to make the most of your daily runs and how to set SMART goals so that you can achieve your fitness goals sooner!

The outbreak of Covid-19 has caused disruption to all our exercise routines in one way or another. This inability to attend our regular Pilates group or drop into the gym has resulted in a lot of us resorting to using our local bike/footpaths and taken up the dreading run as our primary form of exercise. If you are like me and have not run regularly for the last few years, you are probably in disbelief of how hard it is, and how much harder those PB’s are to come by.

Running is an amazingly simple, cost-effective and rewarding form of exercise that boasts enormous benefits to our physical and mental health. Although running can be as simple as throwing on the joggers and walking out the door, I am going to share some tips you can take on to make the most of your daily runs and achieve those PB’s a little quicker!

Firstly, have you got a goal in mind with your running? I want you to write down your goals before we continue. For me, my current goal is to be able to run 5km at a 4.30km/min pace. Thinking about that goal for me, we can implement the SMART principle. If you are not familiar with this, we are going to go through it now. The SMART principle is used as a tool to establish a solid goal.

S – is the goal you are setting SPECIFIC?

M – is the goal you are setting MEASURABLE?

A – is the goal you are setting ATTAINABLE?

R – is the goal you are setting REALISTIC?

T – is the goal you are setting within a TIME FRAME?

Back to my goal, it has specificity, it’s measurable, it’s attainable, it’s realistic and I’ve given myself a time frame of six months to achieve this (hopefully a lot sooner, but I think this is a fair period of time).

Now we have got the goal established we can look at getting into the running itself. An exceptionally large emphasis from me is to start your running with some form of structure or intent in mind. To make this simple, I am going to run through two common scenarios I see as an Exercise Physiologist and different ways to structure your runs.

Example one, you are new to running and are not too sure of how you should start. Firstly, remember that we all started somewhere! But a quite simple way to ease into it and not overcook things is to use an interval type structure. This includes using a set distance of time for your running, and a set distance of time for your recovery (either resting or walking). This is what it can look like.

  • Using a watch, aim to run for 1 minute continuously. At the completion of that minute return to a walk or have complete rest for 3 minutes. This gives you a 4-minute total interval, and you can aim to complete this 5 times through to give a total of 20 minutes.
  • This process can be repeated using the distance method for those who are fortunate enough to have a GPS to track the run. As appose to time, you may choose to run for 200m, and rest for 300m. And repeat that five times for a total of 2km.
  • Notice how the rest period is longer than the work period in both examples. We use this ‘ratio’ to progress the intervals, so you would aim to cut down the rest period in relation to the work to progress (e.g. using the time method, you would increase to a 1.30 minute run, and a 2.30 minute rest, still giving you a 4 minute interval period.). Eventually, the work period will outweigh the rest period and you will be well on your way to reaching your goals!

Example two, you are a seasoned runner and have been stuck in the same routine for a long period of time without seeing the normal progressions in your times or distance. When this occurs, it can be as simple as adding variety to your runs to restart the progress again. This variety can come in an abundance of forms, but I am going to take you through two of my favourite ways to do so.

  • First off, using a descending set. To perform this, you will need to find your desired running pace. An example of this is, if you wish to run a 25-minute 5km, you will have to run a 5.00min/km. This will be your pace for the descending sets of running. How the sets work, is that you will start with a 500m run at this pace, rest for between 30-60 seconds and repeat for 400m, then 300m, 200m, and 100m to complete the first set. I would recommend completing this set at least twice through. This form of running structure aims to adapt your body to running at the increased intensity, and over time your body will condition to it and you will notice a significant improvement in your running ability.
  • The second running set uses a time basis for your running intervals. For this example, you are going to want to run at a faster pace than your goal, using the example above I would aim to hold a pace of 4.30 – 4.45 min/km pace. Once you have established your pace, you then choose your time intervals, I will use 2 minutes for this example. At the start of every interval you are going to run 250m at the pace set, once finished, you have the remaining time as recovery. So, if you complete the run in 1.20 seconds, you have 40 seconds until you repeat the process. I would recommend repeating this between 10-20 times depending on your goals.

I really hope these tips can be beneficial to you and aid in improving your running! These tips and guidelines are broad and not specific to you as an individual, so if there are any pressing concerns with your running or you are seeking further, more tailored advice then chatting to an Exercise Physiologist is your best bet. You can find me at Chermside Sports and Spinal Physio 😊


Written by Exercise Physiologist Matthew Crear

Matt graduated from James Cook University with a bachelor of Exercise Physiology (Clinical) in 2016. Since he spent two years working in Hervey Bay where he was able to implement an injury prevention program to a wide variety of athletes. Along with his interest in aiding athletes to return to full health post-injury, Matt also worked closely with those who have osteoporosis, T2DM and general musculoskeletal injuries.

Matt started work with Sports and Spinal in 2019, where he has grown to develop a special interest in a return to sport / full capacity, pre and post-operative rehabilitation, persistent pain and chronic disease management.

Matt is a passionate fitness enthusiast who has battled through several injuries himself. Currently, you’ll find Matt playing golf a few times a week, in the gym, doing pilates or running, along with playing social sports wherever he can.

Matt is available for Exercise Physiology appointments at our Chermside location.


Tips From A Physiotherapist: How To Make Sure Your Workspace Is Ergonomic

Spending more time working from home? If so, you could be at risk of developing more aches and pains. While home is a more relaxed environment, sending emails from the kitchen bench or having meetings in the lounge room, studies have shown that a long term poor ergonomic set up could lead to the development of musculoskeletal disorders.

Our physiotherapist provides tips on working from home:

  • Ensure your back support supports the natural curves of your spine
  • Chair height appropriate to ensure feet are flat and supported on the floor (sometimes you need to use a box or some books to accommodate for screen height)
  • Sit with your elbows and knees at a 90-degree angle
  • Set up the monitor so that the top line of text on the screen is at resting eye level

Along with a correct ergonomic setup, implement frequent, short breaks where you stand up, stretch or walk around a bit. This could be a simple as standing up for a phone call, having a snack, or making a cup of tea or coffee. Studies have proven that movement relaxes tissues, loosens joints and prevents stiffness, improves circulation, reduces fatigue, and builds stamina.

What Sports & Spinal Physiotherapists can do for you:

  • Our physiotherapists will help to quickly identify any risks early in your workstation set up BEFORE they develop into more serious conditions
  • Teach you the most effective stretches and exercises you can do to help when working from home -prevention is always better than cure!
  • This will help to boost your productivity levels and energy when working
  • Help to prevent time off work and sick days attributed to poor ergonomics leading to musculoskeletal problems
  • Help YOU to provide a solution to your work environment

Desk Stretches from our Physio Ed 

If you are experiencing any issues with working from home, contact our physiotherapists to discuss how they can help you.

Written by Physiotherapist Ed McHugh

Ed graduated with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy Degree from Nottingham University in the UK in 2005 and went on to complete an MSc in advanced musculoskeletal physiotherapy from Hertfordshire University in 2014. Ed is a highly skilled and dynamic physiotherapist with a proven track record of expertise in the management of musculoskeletal conditions. Ed has previously studied Sports Science at the prestigious Loughborough University and combines his knowledge in this field to help develop effective rehabilitation and exercise prescription.

Ed has been fortunate to have worked in a variety of clinical settings which have given him a wholesome understanding of physiotherapy to a variety of patient groups and settings. Ed has worked in private sports physiotherapy clinics, corporate healthcare, occupational health and private hospital facilities as well as running his own private practice.

Ed’s specialist interests are treating sports injuries with a particular interest in the analysis of movement patterns in their role in injury. Ed also has an interest in treating spinal pain conditions using a variety of manual techniques, acupuncture and rehabilitation to help patients achieve their goals.

Ed is available for Physiotherapy appointments at the Caloundra clinic.


How To Get Started With Your Telehealth Consultation

Sports & Spinal use the app Physiapp for our telehealth consultations. This works well on any Apple or Andriod device, including smartphones or tablets, as well as laptops and desktop computers with internet access. Once you've booked your telehealth consultation either online or through your local clinic, follow the below steps for your telehealth consultation.

1. To book a telehealth consult, find the service you are after or your preferred practitioner, look at the available times that suit you best and ensure you pick 'TELEHEALTH' from the drop-down menu. Or call your local clinic and book an appointment over the phone.

2. Now that it is time for your appointment, log in to your account. Download PhysiApp from the App Store or on Google Play.

3. If using a computer, open in a web browser. Google Chrome and Firefox work best.

4. Your unique login code will be sent to your email that you used to book the consultation. Enter your 6 letter access code and click the 'Access your program' button.

5. Answer the call.  Now that you are logged on to PhysiApp, your clinician will be able to call through to you so long as your screen remains on with PhysiApp displayed. Make sure you have a reasonable space around you if you have a physiotherapy, exercise physiologist or podiatry appointment in case you need to perform some movement tests.

Sports & Spinal is a place for you to be welcomed, strengthened and supported to achieve your health goals.  Click here to learn more about telehealth and how it can help you.



How TO Guide For Online Pilates

With live exercise demonstrations and one on one support, our online pilates is a great way to keep progressing in your exercise rehabilition- all from your living room! Here is a how-to guide on how to join our live classes:

1.      You can download the Zoom mobile app for your iOS or Android device from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. If using a laptop/ desktop go to

2. Sign up to Zoom for free using your current email address

3.  Your Sports and Spinal clinic will send you a link either via email or text.

4. If using a laptop/ desktop, Once you receive the link from the clinic, click the “Join a Meeting Button” where it will ask for the Meeting ID and then you are ready to go

5. Enjoy!



What is Telehealth?

At Sports and Spinal we’re patient-focused. Our mission has always been to keep our communities moving regardless of your location, ability or condition.  We continue to review and update our procedures overtime to ensure we are providing you with a safe place to be able to continue your health journey. Therefore to respond to changes in the industry, we have introduced Telehealth and online classes so that we can stand by for all of your health needs.

So what is Telehealth?

Telehealth is an online video consultation service between you and your clinician through Physitrack. Teleheath is available for all of our service offerings including Physiotherapy, Exercise Physiology, Dietitian, Podiatry, Occupational Therapy, and Psychology. Telehealth is used to overcome barriers caused by the distance between patient and provider, access to transportation along with people who are unable to access health services. Telehealth closes the gap providing live video consultations wherever they are, whenever they need it.

The benefits of Telehealth are obvious for practitioners and clients:

  • Secure and live consultations one on one consultations
  • Live exercise demonstrations
  • Instant messaging – an ability for patients to contact the physio 24/7 to troubleshoot/ask questions
  • Professional and personalised exercise program development that can be accessed on any device

Is Telehealth is just as effective as in clinical practice?

In today’s healthcare world, convenience is key. Telehealth offers patients on-demand-care with our online consultations continuing to deliver the same outstanding level of care as our in-clinic services.

According to a recent study (1),  43 patients were recruited with either shoulder, knee or low back pain, and assessed both in person and through telehealth. It was found that there was a high level (83%) agreement in clinical decisions between the two mediums.

Sports & Spinal is a place for you to be welcomed, strengthened and supported to achieve your health goals. You can book online for your appointment by selecting 'TELEHEALTH',  or read our telehealth page to learn more about how Telehealth can help you.


  1. Cottrell, M. A., O'Leary, S. P., Swete-Kelly, P., Elwell, B., Hess, S., Litchfield, M. A., ... & Russell, T. G. (2018). Agreement between telehealth and in-person assessment of patients with chronic musculoskeletal conditions presenting to an advanced-practice physiotherapy screening clinic. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice38, 99-105.




Wearing In Your Orthotics by Expert Podiatrist Tim Boyle

Expect Podiatrist, Tim Boyle shares his tips about how to make your orthotics comfortable.

Orthotics change the way your foot functions and therefore will require wearing in period.

Begin by wearing the orthotic for  1 hour on the first day. Increase the time by  1  hour every day until they can be worn all day.

Occasionally there may be some discomfort in the legs or back during the adjustment period. This is due to the newly aligned position of your body and your muscles will take some time to get used to it. If this occurs, cut back the adjustment time by  30  minutes each day.

Your podiatrist will review your progress in a few weeks. By this time you should be wearing your orthotic device all day.

Suitable footwear which will accommodate orthotic devices can be discussed by your podiatrist.

Your orthotics may be cleaned with warm water and mild soap.  If they squeak in your shoes add some powder.

Exercise and Orthotics 

Orthotics fit best into shoes with a deep heel seat and a high firm heel counter.

Orthotics should not be used in badly worn shoes as they will not function correctly.

Remove all arch supports and build up from the shoe to allow the orthotics to sit properly in the shoe. Use devices for exercise only after you can use them all day for two days. Initially, you will feel pressure under the arch,  snugness around the heel and a  digging in of the front edge.  This will disappear as your feet will become accustomed to the devices. With the high load and repetition and high loads of exercise, your orthotics will eventually show some signs of wear and tear.  Covers and extensions can be replaced for a  small charge.

If you are experiencing any issues with your orthotics,  contact our podiatrists to discuss how they can help you.

Written by Podiatrist Tim Boyle

Tim graduated from the Queensland University of Technology as a Podiatrist in 2006. He has gained valuable experience over the last eight years working in a multidisciplinary sports medicine clinic.

Tim enjoys a broad scope of podiatry including sports injuries of the lower limb, biomechanical assessments, gait analysis, orthotic therapy, footwear assessments and recommendations, diabetic foot assessments and treatment of conditions of the toenails and skin.  Tim is particularly passionate about running biomechanics and footwear advice/prescription, a special interest that commenced through his strong interest in athletics and involvement in the footwear industry.

Over the years Tim has treated a number of senior and junior athletes from a range of different sports, including 2 years treating both the Brisbane Roar and Brisbane Roar youth teams.

Tim is available for Podiatry appointments at our Buderim, Maroochydore, Nambour and Sippy Downs locations.