Campus News

Behind the Blue with UK's Sports Medicine Research Institute (SMRI)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 15, 2018) – The Olympics celebrates all things sport, and medalists are widely considered the "ultimate athlete."  But the special operations forces of the U.S. military experience similar physical and mental challenges, with much more on the line.

The University of Kentucky's Sports Medicine Research Institute (SMRI) works with athletes of all skill levels and the tactical athletes of the U.S. military to improve performance and reduce injury.

Consider the physical demands on an Olympic biathlete, an event that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. It's difficult to aim with a steady hand if your heart is pounding from a vigorous cardiovascular workout.

The superior biathlete is usually the one with the best "CV recovery"– that is, the amount of time it takes to slow the heart rate down after physical exertion. According to Nicholas Heebner, associate director for research at the UK SMRI, the same is true of military athletes.

"These two disciplines use the same science" to maximize performance, Heebner said, and the work of the SMRI, which encompasses sophisticated analysis of biomechanical motion, anaerobic power, metabolic capacity and more, can help Special Ops forces, Olympic athletes and "weekend warriors" perform better and with fewer injuries.

In this episode of the Behind the Blue, we chat with Heebner and the SMRI's Medical Director Dr. Scott Black about the similarities between Olympic athletes and the tactical athletes of the U.S. military and how the SMRI is doing research that benefits both.

This year, "Blue" will be going for the "Gold," too. We will take you on the journey with special athletes and those who support them and have insight into what makes the Olympics so special. Be sure to visit and follow along on all of our social media channels by looking for #olympiCats.

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UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue