Sarah Key Masterclasses (UK)

Sarah Key UK Masterclass Levels 1 & 2


‘The 5 Stages of Spinal Breakdown’

Courses for Physiotherapists in the United Kingdom 

Levels 1 & 2 Practical Adjunct Module 

In 2018 at Salford University

Levels 1 & 2

June 5th and 6th 2018

Level 3 (Webinar available from February 2018)

June 8th and 9th 2018


For further information please contact Eleanor Leach  at

UK participants will pay though Salford University and be given login and password.



Stage 3 at Kensington Palace 2008

If you require any further details contact:

Course reviews

May 2009

Thank you for an AMAZING four days. I have been truly inspired since. I am pleased to say that i didn’t hang around and have used the techniques on nearly all my back patients. Both my clients and i feel i am really getting to the core of their problems. A very Big thank you to my fellow classmates and wishing you all success. Hope to see you at stage 2…. 

October 2008

“Excellent course with wide amount of evidence based practice to support the theories. Makes backs much simpler – pity this model is not taught to undergraduate students – it would make backs less daunting when you first qualify. Can’t wait to get back to work and try out and develop new skills”
“Fantastic course. It will totally transform your understanding of how spinal breakdown occurs and empower you to make a real difference. To me, this is ‘the physiotherapy’ i signed up for.”

Course Review in Frontline

Sarah Key’s Problem Back Masterclass

The sight of my husband clutching the roof rack of our car unable to move, his back having ‘gone’ while getting my Christmas bottle of Amarulla out of the car made me decide that 2006 was going to be the year that I learnt more about treating back pain.
Sarah Key’s Masterclass seemed to fulfil my criteria and I booked myself onto the 4 day course at Highgrove, a beautiful setting for a course. The course was a mixture of theory and practical and a brave delegation of patients who were treated over the last 3 days although there was, as always, almost enough going on in our own backs to treat. Mine still feels wonderful thanks!
Sarah has developed a working hypothesis of the 5 stages of spinal breakdown, this was explained in detail over the course and I now feel able to explain to most patients where their pain is coming from and more importantly what we can do together to treat it and even start to reverse the breakdown.
Treatment techniques use hands and your feet, somewhat different but it saves your thumbs, the patients find it comfortable and so often now I hear my patient s say that ‘That is my pain, that is where it is’.
I had warned a couple of my beefy young male patients that I was doing the course so that when I went back to work the following week they were there ready for me to gently trample on their backs, with great results.
We were taught a great package of exercises mostly based on yoga stretches and positions and we all had a copy of Sarah’s book The back sufferers Bible which also explains the 5 stages and has comprehensive exercise routines for patients to follow.
Sarah is a great teacher and very experienced and passionate clinician, She is very entertaining and a little controversial,(wait for the lifting lecture) which I found quite inspiring and amusing!!!!! As with all courses you need to approach it with an open mind.
After the course you have access to a forum on Sarah’s website, any problems or queries that you have are posted on the forum for Fellow delegates and usually Sarah to respond too I have found this so helpful in keeping my confidence with the method and solving the odd problem patient.
Sarah is generous with her time and materials and I can honestly say that this course above all others has influenced my practice and given me tools (well a block of wood and my feet) to help treat back pain, I actually look forward to seeing back pain patients now.!
PS: Husband much better, recovered from his acute locked back and lying on his back block daily in front of Neighbours!

Course review
Sarah Key – The Five Stages of Spinal Breakdown.

This course completely de-mystifies the back and catapults chronic back pain into the realms of the treatable rather than manageable. Sarah Key delivers 4 days packed with the science behind the spine and the application of this knowledge to a clinical setting. The whole package of the knowledge coupled with an entire treatment system for the back is tested on genuine patients enabling first hand observation of the changes Sarah is able to induce. Each day the previous day’s lectures are presented in summary to the group by course participants, which consolidated our knowledge and enabled effective questioning and discussion.

The five stages of spinal breakdown analyses the progressive changes in the spinal segment and explain the presentation of symptoms relative to the biomechanics of the spine. In this way, a thorough understanding of what is really happening anatomically empowers the Physiotherapist to treat with new confidence and direction.
I found this course truly transformational and it is one of the few that has actually changed the way I practice not only in terms of technique but in the confidence with which I approach all back pain patients. It was certainly nerve racking taking this new approach into my own treatment room but Sarah inspired not only confidence in the system but a need to be a braver practitioner to truly achieve effective and accurate results. As my first few patients trickle back for their follow up appointments I am seeing some really positive changes and some really happy people.
Laura Barrell MCSP

Course review
Sarah Key’s Highgrove Masterclass – November 2006

How many CPD courses have you attended, that you can say you have used what you’ve learned, daily, ever since? Well, I have with this course and may be you will too! This is certainly a course for structurally orientated osteopaths who would welcome the opportunity to get to know and exchange knowledge with some very friendly, open-minded physiotherapists.
The Sarah Key movement is quickly gaining momentum amongst physiotherapists and now a few osteopaths. It is grounded in a common sense theory and an innovative practical approach to understanding and treating the majority of our low back pain patients. Sarah challenges the conventional wisdom on advising patients how to lift and bend. She also teaches that loading and off loading the spine is good for the health of the discs.
I would recommend reading one of her 3 books to give you greater insight. They are simply written and easy to understand. If you attend her course you will be presented with the latest physiological research to justify her method.
Sarah teaches, in a very relaxed way, the 5 stages of Spinal Breakdown;
Stage 1 – Stiff Spinal Segment. She proposes that a stiff spinal segment, typically at L5, is the beginning of a cascade of spinal degeneration. As our discs degenerate due to mechanical load, injury, poor posture and inadequate muscular support, so they lose water and begin to dehydrate and flatten.
Stage 2 – Facet Joint Arthropathy. Over time, facet joints begin to feel the strain from this compression as they move less freely, rub and override. Hence arthropathy develops.
Stage 3 – Acute Locked Back. Depending on the circumstances, patients’ spines may progress to developing an acute facet strain/lock.
Stage 4 – A Prolapsed Intervertebral Disc.
Stage 5 – Unstable Spinal Segment. Thereafter and often if the spine has had all these problems, can it become unstable at one or more levels.
The course covers how each of these stages are experienced by the patient both during acute and chronic episodes. I have worked with this theory for 6 months now and I have not yet found a patient whose pain I couldn’t describe and diagnose using this theory of spinal breakdown.
The course may also benefit those of you with tired hands and aching shoulders because Sarah’s treatment technique uses her feet! She also teaches the use of a Backblock. This is simply a block (like a yoga block) that patients place under their sacrums to decompress L5. With regular use and a few simple, safe exercises, patients are empowered to treat their own backs and minimise further degeneration.
Sarah’s honest ambition is to teach patients, fellow physiotherapists and other health professionals how to better understand, diagnose, treat, and maintain a healthier, pain-free back.

I found the practical content of the course pretty challenging at first but I’ve tried it on virtually every patient this week and I’m amazed by the results – and also by how easy it’s becoming to feel what I’m doing. Hugely impressed. Can’t wait for Stage 2!