Sports Science and Sports Medicine- an Overview Term Paper

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Sports Science and Sports Medicine- An Overview

This is a paper about "Sports Science and Sports Medicine." 6 sources are given. (Harvard style)

Sports/exercise science and medicine are fields that have only recently begun consolidating into distinct professions. They are both interrelated, the former being more of an investigative and experimental area while the latter deals with the implementation of the knowledge and techniques developed by sports science.

They are still in the process of being conclusively defined, and include various disciplines. A 1999 survey carried out by the 'Physician and Sports medicine' journal elicited terms such as: art and science of medicine applied to physical activity, care of athletes, disease prevention and treatment, emphasis on function, enhancing fitness, human performance, medical subspecialty, musculoskeletal medicine, nutrition, orthopedic subspecialty, physiology, prevention, psychology, rehabilitation, sports injuries, sports-related medical conditions, sports science, etc. To describe sports medicine. (Matheson, 1999)

The International Federation of Sports Medicine's Scientific Commission adopted the following definition in 1977: "Sports medicine includes those theoretical and practical branches of medicine which investigates the influence of exercise, training, and sport on healthy and ill people, as well as the effects of lack of exercise, to produce useful results for prevention, therapy, rehabilitation and the athlete."("Sport & Exercise Medicine"2003)

Sports have become a multibillion dollar business and the ever-increasing competitiveness and challenges, both mental and physical faced by the modern sportsperson has increased the need of a medical and scientific support system for athletes. A variety of medical professionals together provide the services that are required in sports today and these include from specialized sports nutritionists, physiotherapists to psychologist, experts in biomechanics and sports physiologists. (Stein, 2003) As such, in addition to the care of athletes-their injuries, safety, and general health-sports medicine embraces preventive medicine, the role of exercise in the treatment of disease, and the underlying science of function and performance. (Matheson, 1999)

Exercise science deals with the study of the immediate and long-term effects of physical activity on the human body. It is mostly a laboratory-based science including various subspecialties such as Anatomy, Biomechanics, Motor Control, Athletic Training, Exercise and Integrative Physiology. ("Sport & Exercise Medicine"2003) Exercise science or sports science explores the beneficial health effects of exercise, developing fitness, rehabilitation from various disease states, training for competitive athletics, or injuries due to exercise or athletics, etc. ("Sport & Exercise Medicine"2003)

Exercise scientists can be found in fitness clubs, hospitals, companies trying to keep their workers healthy with exercise, and professional and amateur sports, including professional teams and Olympic training centers. Research areas in which exercise science is used include jobs as an athletic trainer, fitness instructor, sport nutritionist, sports medicine technician, equipment tester, weight loss counselor, and physical therapist. ("Sport & Exercise Medicine"2003)

The various disciplines of exercise science investigate aspects of sports in diverse ways. For example in athletics, exercise physiologists may study how athletes use oxygen while running and how it impacts on their performance while biomechanists may evaluate the efficiency of an athlete's running stride using physics. Nutritionists may assess the impact of what athletes eat on their running program. Thus it is only with their collaboration that a holistic approach can be sustained towards a sportsperson's overall performance and his or her health.

Especially in the developed world, infrastructure which will allow sports medicine professionals to deliver services more effectively to elite sports, are being put in place. Sports science and sports medicine are receiving special attention in the United Kingdom and with the support of organizations such as the EIS or English Institute of Sports are developing its reputation as one of the best sports medicine setups in Europe. ("What We do." 2003) Athletes, coaches and scientists have all realized that they each have an important contribution towards the improvement of individual performance and exercise benefits and techniques. ("What We do." 2003)

Exercises science is the source of up-to-date and constructive information that is used in exercise medicine. It deals with the theoretical or scientific elements of exercise and performance while sports or exercise medicine deals especially with the non-surgical approaches to injuries to muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments, bones and joints, caused by activity. (Stein, 2003) Both fields however aspire to improve sport and physical performance.

High quality sports performance depends largely on an individual's movement pattern and is usually referred to as technique. Good technique not only produces an effective performance but also reduces the risk of injury. The effect of physical forces on the movement and on the size, shape and structure of the body is scientifically studied by biomechanists today in an attempt to help optimize athletic technique. (Stein, 2003)

Through qualitative analysis via direct observation or film or video tape a biomechanist would study an athlete's performance with a view to diagnosing any problems which might be limiting sporting potential. In close consultation with the athlete's coach, training patterns may be altered to incorporate elements which may help to rectify the problem. (Stein, 2003, "What We do." 2003)

Biomechanics have practical application in all sports and are being increasingly used amongst elite sportsmen and women. An example is that of cycling, a sport that has grown steadily in popularity over the last 30 years. It is recognized to be an exercise that is easy on joints and is often used in rehabilitation programs and as an accessory training device in other sports. Cycling is known however to cause overuse injuries, and injuries associated with biomechanical abnormalities, such as patellofemoral complex. (Burke, 1986) This chronic knee pain is seen to be common in cyclists.

Kinematic analysis of the knee has been used to evaluate cyclists for the presence of abnormal knee movement. A study found that more than 80% of cyclists presenting with patellofemoral pain, demonstrated an abnormal mediolateral deviation of the knee during the downstroke of cycling. (Burke, 1986) This has been recognized by scientists and practical steps to prevent such injury advocated. These include such steps as spinning, using low rather than high gears, and avoiding excessive amounts of hill training. (Burke, 1986)

Such studies have immense practical application in competitive sports in preventing debilitating injury and improving performance. For example the English triple jumper Jonathan Edwards refined his technique by using biomechanical analysis. Coach Dennis Nobles used biomechanics and exercise physiology to calculate that a longer takeoff, coupled with raising the torso, holding the hop and step phases and controlling the pumping of the arms, would improve Edward's technique. A year of rehabilitation and technique modification helped Edwards improve his performance by half a meter to break the World Record in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1995. His mark of 18.29 still stands. ("What We do." 2003)

Modern sports are a field in which to succeed and maintain performance athletes and their caregivers need to look after all aspects of a sports person's health. Be it as fundamental as nutrition, sports medicine and science recognizes that the effect of food on performance and how exercise alters the nutritional requirements of the body must be scientifically evaluated. In doing this a sports nutritionist has to study the different physiological, biochemical and nutritional responses to various types of exercise and situations that occur during training and competition. ("Sport & Exercise Medicine" 2003) What and when to eat after exercise has been a focus of much research. This information is then made applicable to the athlete's diet. Another part of their responsibilities is the modification of the athlete's normal diets in times of injury so as to optimize rehabilitation and get the individual back to his normal performance as soon as possible. ("Sport & Exercise Medicine" 2003)

When athletes are equally matched in terms of talent, training, and motivation, ultimately it is elements such as proper nutrition which will make all the difference. Few athletes or coaches have the specialized knowledge to formulate an optimal nutritional strategy. ("Sport & Exercise Medicine" 2003) This must mean that the diet not only improves performance but also maintain health. Without adequate scientific know-how this important point is often overlooked. Thus sports nutritionists have become essential parts of an athletes support group.

Manual physiotherapists however are the most commonly recognized sports medical care providers. They use their hands to joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons and then apply specific, controlled, hands-on treatment techniques to restore tissue function. ("Sport & Exercise Medicine" 2003) They are useful in both injury prevention and rapid and complete rehabilitation. As part of a sports medical team, physiotherapists help monitor and audit injuries and allow coaches and biomechanists to consider adaptations to training programmes for maximum benefit.

Injuries requiring long-term rehabilitation and medical care are all too common and if prompt and appropriate therapy is not installed can often lead to tragedy in terms of a shortened career. For example a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) means surgery, months of rehabilitation and, according to medical statistics, an increased likelihood of re-injury but is still especially common amongst female soccer and basketball players. (Patrick, 2003) New research in exercise science has shown however that certain…

Sources Used in Document:


Burke, ER, ed.1986. 'Injury prevention for cyclists: a biomechanical approach,' Science of Cycling, Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics Pubs Inc. pp.145-184.

Matheson, G.O. 1999. "Sports Medicine: A Focus on Health," The Physician And Sportsmedicine. vol.27 no.10 October.

Patrick, D. (2003) "Specific exercises may be key to preventing ACL injuries" [Internet] USA Today. Available at[Accessed 24 November, 2003].

Sport & Exercise Medicine"(2003) [Internet] The National Sports medicine Institute of the United Kingdom. Available at[Accessed 24 November, 2003].

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