• Location: The University of Melbourne - Glyn David Building (Building 133), Masson Road

Lower back pain is a common cause of lost playing time in athletes. This action packed SMA event will give attendees an understanding of managing the athlete with lower back pain, with topics including:

  • Psychosocial considerations in the athlete
  • Managing lumbar spine stress injuries
  • Objective assessment of spinal function
  • Rehabilitation and how to modify exercises for athletes with lower back pain
  • Imaging: the why and when
  • Challenges of the hypermobile athlete
  • Surgery: the why and when
  • The use of medication and injectables

The event will feature a star studded line up of multidisciplinary speakers from a wide variety of sports PLUS the unique athletes’ perspective on dealing with this condition.

Time Topic Speaker
8:30am – 8:55am Registration open
8:55am – 9:00am Welcome
9:00am – 9:30am Just get more active? Psychological considerations (and their biological implications) for the athlete with low back pain Associate Professor Tasha Stanton
9:30am – 10:00am MRI lumbar spine – advanced techniques Dr Paul Marks
10:00am – 10:30am Managing lumbar bone stress in athletes Alex Kountouris
10:30am – 11:00am Morning tea
11:00am – 11:30am Objective data to get the back on track Dr Stephen King
11:30am – 12:00pm The mobile spine Sophie Emerey
12:00pm – 12:30pm TBA TBA
12:30pm – 1:30pm Lunch
1:30pm – 2:00pm Modifying exercises in the gym Martyn Girvan
2:00pm – 2:30pm Rehab for low back pain TBA
2:30pm – 3:00pm Manual therapy and maintenance care for back pain – can it work? Matt Fernandez
3:00pm – 3:30pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm – 4:00pm Surgery: The why and when David De La Harpe
4:00pm – 4:30pm Low back pain: what is it? The fallacy of non-specific low back pain and treatment options Dr Bruce Mitchell
4:30pm – 5:00pm Athlete panel TBA


B.App. Sc., B.Sc., MBBS., MS., FRACS (Orth), F.A.Orth.A

David is one of the leading spinal surgeons in Melbourne. He has built a reputation as an expert surgeon with a careful and considered approach to the treatment of disorders of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. David has particular expertise in microdiscectomy.

David has a unique perspective on the treatment of the spine, having qualified as a chiropractor from RMIT in 1980. He subsequently underwent medical training and graduated with Honours from the University of Melbourne. He also won the Stirling prize for Clinical Surgery in his final year. He underwent resident training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and was subsequently accepted for the Orthopaedic Training program. He completed this in 1999 when he became a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

David also completed a Masters of Surgery at the University of Melbourne.

He travelled overseas in 1999 and completed a spinal fellowship at one of the prominent spinal centres in the United Kingdom at Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham, England.

On his return from overseas, David held consultant positions at the Royal Melbourne Hospital (Trauma centre) and the Austin Hospital (Victorian Spinal Cord Service) where he specialised in complex spinal surgery.

David now operates exclusively at the Epworth Hospital. He is a founding member of Orthopaedics Victoria.

He is also a member of the Spine Society and a patron of Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia (COCA) which promotes continuing education for Chiropractors and Osteopaths.

David is an avid car collector and restorer and is also passionate about rugby union.

Sophie Emery joined The Australian Ballet in 2009 as a physiotherapist with a lifelong interest in dance. In 2019 Sophie was promoted to the role of rehabilitation physiotherapist, taking on a greater role in the development and implementation of rehabilitation programs and exercise prescription. Sophie graduated from La Trobe University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy and completed her Masters in Sports Physiotherapy in 2013. She is committed to ongoing professional development and has conducted and presented research on the size of hip muscles in dancers compared to athletes. Sophie has presented at the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science conferences in Birmingham, UK and Houston, USA, as well as speaking nationally for the Australian Physiotherapy Association and the Victorian and South Australian Podiatry Associations. Sophie is also the coordinator and supervisor of undergraduate university physiotherapy students at The Australian Ballet.

Steve has a unique background being a dual-masters qualified Physiotherapist and Osteopath, as well as being an S + C Coach and Personal Trainer and is aware of the key issues health and fitness professionals around the world face – including:

  • Lacking the data to confirm whether or not they are actually helping their patients and clients
  • Difficulty standardising their assessment, treatment and training processes across all members of their teams
  • Having trouble standing out from the crowd and offering a point of difference in an extremely competitive healthcare environment
  • Implementing evidence-based strategies into their practice.

Now, after training over 4000 health and fitness professionals around the world on his evidence-based assessment, treatment and training methods at MAT, Steve believes there is a way to improve all of these frustrations…..with OBJECTIVE DATA and the latest technology.

His personal goal is to objectify all assessments health professionals perform and help 10 million patients and clients each day, through health and fitness professionals using MAT’s objective data strategies and our game-changing technology.

Alex is a Sports Physiotherapist, with a PhD in Cricket Injuries. He is also Adjunct Associate Prof. La Trobe University.

Alex was head physiotherapist for the Sri Lankan Cricket team 1996-2003 & Australian Men’s Cricket Team from 2006 -2015. In these roles, Alex was involved in six ICC Cricket World Cup Tournaments, include three world champion teams.

Since 2015, Alex moved into the role of Cricket Australia’s Sports Science and Sports Medicine Manager, overseeing the performance, welfare and safety of Australia’s elite cricket players.

Associate Professor Tasha Stanton leads the Pain and Perception Group in Adelaide at the University of South Australia. Her research group is affiliated with the Body in Mind Research group both in Adelaide (University of South Australia) and in Sydney (Neuroscience Research Australia). She completed her PhD at the University of Sydney in 2010 and is currently a National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Career Development Fellow (2019-2021). She has received over $3.2m in competitive research funding to date, including a highly renowned Canadian Institute of Health Research Postdoctoral Training Fellowship (2011-2014) and NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (2014-2018).

Tasha completed her training as a clinical Physiotherapist in 2002 and after two years of clinical work, she returned to pursue her Master of Science in spinal biomechanics with Prof Greg Kawchuk at the University of Alberta, Canada, completing it in 2007. She then received a highly competitive PhD recruitment scholarship – the University of Sydney International Research Scholarship – and relocated overseas to complete her PhD, studying lower back pain and clinical prediction, with Prof Chris Maher, Prof Jane Latimer, and Associate Prof Mark Hancock at the University of Sydney/The George Institute for Global Health.

Her research aims to understand why we have pain and why, sometimes, pain doesn’t go away. Her work investigates the neural underpinnings of pain in a unique way – by manipulating our sense of reality. Using mediated and virtual reality, her work explores the contribution of multisensory input to the experience of pain. Her work spans both experimental and clinical pain and she is particularly interested in the role that pain education and activity play in recovery from chronic pain. Together, her research focuses on clinical pain, neuroscience and she is specifically interested in cortical body representation, multisensory integration/modulation, multimodal illusions, somatosensation, and pain.

Tasha has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and has been a keynote or invited speaker at 50 national/international conferences. She was recognised as one of Australia’s Top 5 under 40 Science Communicators (ABC Radio National and UNSW). The quality and importance of her research and her communication of that research has been recognised through various awards: In 2016, she won the Ronald Dubner Research Prize from the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) that recognizes the best series of papers by a trainee, including all pain research areas. She also won the Inaugural Rising Star Award from the Australia Pain Society. In 2015, she was named the South Australia Young Tall Poppy of the Year (Australian Institute for Policy and Science) and received the Best New Investigator Award at the National Australian Physiotherapy Association Congress.

Dr Paul Marks is a radiologist specialising in sports and spinal imaging and treatment. He graduated from Monash university in 1989 with honours. He undertook his radiology training at the Austin hospital in Melbourne graduating in 2000.

After completing a dual fellowship in sports imaging in Australia and San Francisco, He works as director of radiology at The Avenue hospital for 10 years and was founding radiologist at AAMI stadium.

Over the last 5 years he has been director of radiology at Imaging Associates Box Hill. He has worked closely with many AFL clubs and elite athletes over his career providing Game Day imaging for the Hawthorn FC over 10 years.

Dr Marks has a strong belief in education and training, lecturing extensively throughout Australia. He has run a successful fellowship program over several year-end has worked closely with the Australian Physiotherapy Association. He has published numerous peer reviewed papers and overseen PhD and masters research.

Matt Fernandez is a Chiropractor and Exercise Physiologist, with a PhD in spinal pain and comorbidities. He is currently a full-time lecturer at the Department of Chiropractic, Macquarie University in the area of orthopaedics and has presented his work at numerous back pain conferences both nationally and internationally.

Prior to commencing his PhD, Matt was part of the West Tigers u/20’s Rugby League sports medicine team, between 2009-2012.

His current research interest includes physical activity and exercise promotion within the chiropractic setting. Matt is exploring these topics, specifically through GLA:D Back Australia, a program that evaluates the implementation of standardised patient education and exercise therapy for people with persistent or recurrent low back pain.

Matt is also a Program Fellow of the Chiropractic Academy for Research Leadership (CARL).

Dr Bruce Mitchell is a Sports and Interventional Pain Physician and a Director of Metro Pain Group.
He has an extensive sports medicine background, previously working as an AFL club doctor and was the former National President of Sports Medicine Australia. He is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, and has completed a Masters of Pain Medicine and the International Fellowship of Interventional Pain Practice. He has a special interest in the management of hip, back, pelvic and pelvic girdle pain.

Martyn has a degree in exercise science and a degree in psychology and an extensive background in physical preparation in various sports at an elite level. Martyn was the Strength Coach for the Collingwood AFL Football Club from 2006 to 2014, highlighted by their 2010 premiership win.

Martyn is currently involved with the following sporting organisations:

  • Performance Manager for the Malaysian National Track Cycling team (both sprint and endurance) based in Melbourne,
  • Presenter to the Australian strength and conditioning association

Martyn still competes at an elite level in powerlifting.

Registration is essential

SMA Member – $200
SMA Student Member – $125
Non-Member – $250
Non-Member Student – $150