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How a Back Injury Didnt Stop Sarah From Getting Back into Derby

How a back injury didn’t stop Sarah from getting back into Derby



Meet Sarah…she loves Roller Derby, it’s her sport…it’s fast, intense, physical and pretty darn fun!

Last year she hurt her back in a bout when she zig’d instead of zagg’n.

Considering on how physical Derby is its not that uncommon.

Sarah was at a point where she could no longer play due to back pain…her stack did a good number on her…it was a bit of a drag as Derby is where she is happy.

Last week Sarah happily reported that she is now back scrimmaging…playing bouts and training…and her back is feeling good!

So how did we do it…here are the 4 key things we did to get Sarah into Derby, including


  1.  We liased with her GP

I like to work closely with other health professionals as we all have different areas of expertise where we can work together to get the best results possible. In this case we worked with Sarah’s GP, wanting to make sure there were no other nasty back problems so we could get stuck into some great corrective exercises.

2. The key exercises that got Sarahs back strong

Every person has a unique back, so after we did a comprehensive Functional Movement Screen I was able to pinpoint the key areas we needed to work on, being,

  • Soft issue: Sarah had some rather nasty active trigger points in her glutes and lower back. I taught her to use a foam roller and massage ball to release these tight muscles
  • Core: after the Functional Movement Screen it was evident that Sarah’s core and pelvic control wasnt too crash hot. This means she couldn’t keep her hips and lower back in the right positions, which was placing a heap of pressure into her lower back. We spent a lot of time working on getting pelvic control, including hip bridges, creating song abdominal muscles and retraining her breathing patterns.
  • Hip Hinge: This is related to her core tability, no core = poor hip hinge. A hip hinge is a key back movement that connects the big posterior leg muscles to the torso. In the video above  you can see Sarah Working on a single leg Hip hinge using a 6KG kettlebell. Its a pretty hard move, requiring loads of core control and hip/glute strength. As I always like to say, want a strong back, you need a strong but!

3.  What Sarah needed to stop doing right away that was aggravating her back pain

Outside of Derby Sarah loves to keep fit with home High Intensity Inteval Training……these workouts are short and intense circuits where you really push it. After her initial back injury has settles down Sarah tries to get back into her HIIT sessions, but it just seemed to make things worse. She was a bit frustrated as it a big part of her exercise routine, so now she couldn’t Derby, or do HIIT….not cool!

After we did the Functional Movement Screen, and Sarah showed me what her HIIT programs looked like I had to give her some hard advice. Sarah needed to STOP the HIIT sessions as they were creating additional problems to her lower back. To Sarahs credit she took all this on board and dialed back all her training, and only did what I asked her to do….This was not a fast process, Sarah got a little frustrated, but I was able to coach her though this phase to keep focus on the longer goal of getting back into derby and sorting her lower back pain.








4. How we Fixed Her Knee without treating her Knee

During this time Sarah also had a pretty icky knee, it stopped her running. After I assessed the knee, and putting it in the context of her posture and lowerback pain I was pretty confident that her knee pain was more an issue of her lower back and hips not really working well which was forcing the knee joint to compensate. We spent a lot of time correcting her lower back issue, which included a  lot of exercise and posture technique coaching. As a result Sarahs knee pain started to decrease as her hips/lower back pain improved.


Its great to see Sarah back on her skates, hitting it hard out on the Derby arena. In all it took us about 7 months to go from in constant lowerback pain, unable to to her sport, to Minimal lowerback pain, playing the sport she loves. Sarah is keen to keep pushing her training with me, we have heaps more cool stuff to work on, including developing a pretty solid Dead lift.


** Update…Sarah just told me she is off to Adelaide to compete in the main Roller Derby Tournament in Australia….Good lick amigo, smash it!

If you guys have any questions on how we got Sarah back playing Derby, please feel to reach out and drop me an email, or bounce me a message on the social media linky links.




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