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Learning within Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

Article gives an overview of learning in Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Male University of Hull student and staff conducting a VO2 max test on a treadmill in the laboratory

Sometimes there is a misconception that studying in these area’s just means you do PE-style activities like you did at school. This thinking over-simplifies what the field of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Science is all about.

The key word is ‘Science’. The definition of science is “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”. Now that is long-winded, but there are two key words that form the basis: ‘study’ and ‘experiment’.

We study the area(s); this means learning about the underpinning theories or principles and applying them in practice. This is a continually developing process as we will always keep studying and learning as our scientific community keeps evolving with new research and new information.

We also conduct and/or interpret experiments; this is an integral part of scientific practice. Not only will you learn HOW to conduct your own scientific experiments, but the ability to interpret others’ experiments. In the current world with lots of fake news, click-bait style headlines and the misinterpretation of information; the ability to know what is ‘good’ science is really important.

So whilst we do plenty of physical activity in this field, there is much more ‘science’ to it than simply being active all day!

Fundamental principles

Within Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, first you’ll be learning the fundamental principles; physiology, psychology and biomechanics…as well as anatomy! As you progress in your learning you then start to apply those principles to different contexts.

For example if you want to help someone in their rehabilitation of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury; you’d first need to know the anatomy of the knee, the role that ligament plays in knee stability as well as understanding what happens to tissues when we injury them and how our body heals those tissues. When you know all of that….you can then apply that knowledge to your choices in rehabilitation; what exercises to implement to strengthen the knee, what extra healing tools might help that process and how to get them back to fitness and competition.


Another example would be if you are working with a group of young footballers and been tasked to improve their sprinting. First, you’d need to know what the key parts of the body are that perform that movement, what training tools or programmes can improve performance, what your own coaching style is and what coaching techniques are possible. When you know all of that…. you can apply that knowledge to your coaching practice; what muscle groups to train, what exercises and intensities to use to get the most improvement and how to conduct sessions with others to get the most out of them and the sessions.

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Introduction to Sport, Health, and Rehabilitation Sciences at University

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