University of Ljubljana

Fakulteta za šport

Available research areas

Researcher number: 33881

Science: Medicine

Area: Cardiovascular physiology

 

Presentation of research area:

Dr. Shawnda Morrison is a cardiovascular and environmental physiologist who comes to the University of Ljubljana's kinesiology department with over 20 years’ research experience in sport and exercise testing. She examines the adaptive and integrative aspects of human physiology in extreme environments. This means that Dr. Morrison has been researching how the human body exercises in very hot environments, cold stress, high altitude, hypoxia, zero-gravity (spaceflight) and low-gravity space analogues (bedrest studies, confinement). More specifically, cardiovascular physiology describes how the heart and blood vessels react to stress, whether this is through exercise, temperature or pressure changes across the body. Thermoregulation is all about how humans are able to maintain their core temperature at acceptable levels; it describes when people start sweating, vasodilate their blood vessels, re-distribute blood to working muscles, skin and maintain blood flow to their brains. If you are interested in issues like how humans will stay fit in a changing world, with climate change, global warming, and the effects of inactivity on performance, then Shawnda's research could be interesting to you! Dr. Morrison holds industry gold-standard certifications as a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (since 2001) and Somnologist, Expert in Sleep Medicine (since 2014). She has previously supervised a number of successful post-graduate students at the Master's and Doctoral level, both in Slovenia, and international students abroad (e.g. Canada, Croatia, Italy).

 

Researcher number: 50017

Science: Social sciences

Area: Education

Sub-area: Sport

 

Presentation of research area:

Physical activity is one of the key determinants of health in human life. It represents a multitude of body movements caused by skeletal muscles and reflected in energy consumption. Physical activity has beneficial effects on psychosocial health, functional abilities and overall quality of life. Due to physical activity, blood pressure decreases and the probability of certain types of cancer and the risk of coronary heart disease diminishes, and cardio-respiratory functions improve. The consequences of physical inactivity include obesity, hypertension, diabetes, back pain, deteriorated physical efficiency and psychosocial problems. All of the above considerably increase health risk which is why, according to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is the fourth main risk factor of early mortality and morbidity worldwide. The results of the previous research also indicate a positive correlation between higher physical activity and learning achievements as well as between higher physical efficiency and learning achievements. Researchers assume that additional physical education classes positively affect learning achievements, because, by learning complex movements, the pre frontal cortex is stimulated and is also active in learning and problem solving. We should be aware that more physical education in school cannot completely compensate for insufficient physical activity in everyday life. The purpose of the research in the framework of the doctoral thesis would be to study the correlation and the effects of physical activity on learning achievements of children and adolescents as well as correlation between physical activity, physical fitness and the cognitive abilities of children and adolescents.

Researcher number: 31012

Science: Social sciences

Area: Kinesiology

Sub-area: Endurance, biomechanics

 

Presentation of research area:

There are still many unanswered questions in the field of endurance, while research is focused on nearly all sports disciplines where the loading period is longer than 5 minutes. Even with shorter loading, instances of loading may be recurrent over a short period and these can be extremely important for successfully overcoming strain. In the case of longer loading, there may be a change of technique that can affect decisively the final result, as a person’s coordination and balance change during heavy loading. With regular monitoring of an athlete’s level of readiness, we can explore their development and progress with the aim to improve their sports results. In Slovenian sport, there are many athletes who can be monitored and thus, the scientific findings can be transferred into practice. Sports disciplines (requiring endurance): track and field, cross-country skiing, Nordic combination, biathlon, triathlon, cycling and football.

Sports disciplines (requiring short-term recurrent endurance): basketball, handball, volleyball, rowing, ski-boarding.

Researcher number: 20754

Science: Social sciences

Area: Sport

Sub-area: Kinesiology – physiological aspects

 

Presentation of research area:

Topic: Establishment of the effects of different types of swimming training and different training means on competitors’ preparedness

Performance in competitive swimming depends on many physical abilities such as endurance, speed endurance, strength and flexibility. Different types of training are used to develop these abilities (sprint exercise, endurance exercise, etc.) that can be based on the use of various training means (training with a smaller number of breaths, training for respiratory muscle strength, etc.).

Topic: Establishment of apnoea training impact immediately before a swimming performance

In sprint swimming disciplines, swimmers must accurately coordinate their need for air intake and their desire for a minimum breathing frequency. Competitors use different training means to help them overcome the need for air. One of them can be apnoea immediately before swimming. In this way, the diver’s reflex is intended to be triggered, along with favourable conditions in the blood that can be used later during swimming. The aim of the studies is to identify the effects of apnoea carried out immediately before swimming on the swimmer’s performance.

Topic: Establishment of the impact of different types of apnoea training and training means on a person’s ability to hold breath

There are several types of apnoea training, such as static apnoea on dry land and in water as well as dynamic apnoea on dry land (while using a cycling ergonometer) and in water (while swimming). Optionally, O2 (interval series of apnoea with long breaks) or CO2 (interval series of apnoea with several breaths and long breaks) training can be implemented. The aim of the studies is to establish the effects of these types of training and training means on a person’s ability to hold their breath. The latter is important not only for free divers but also for some other athletes. Interruption of breathing and apnoea also occur during swimming and some sports on dry land (biathlon, shooting, etc.). Apnoea training may also have beneficial effects on a person’s ability to calm down in stressful circumstances.

Topic: Establishment of the impact of weak and strong respiratory muscles on progress in breathing capacity during swimming while learning to swim

Managing the ability to breathe during swimming represents a challenge for a novice swimmer. Breathing during swimming is not free or unobstructed as on dry land. Crawl, breaststroke and butterfly swimming must be coordinated with the strokes and the water pressure makes it even more difficult.  It is possible that the respiratory muscle strength of a novice swimmer affects the learning of the breathing technique during swimming.

Topic: Establishment of the effects of the training for respiratory muscle strength, as a supplementary element of swimming lessons, on breathing capacity progress during swimming

Learning how to breathe in water is part of the initial adjustment to water. The learning process encompasses exercises where a novice swimmer releases bubbles first on the water’s surface and then deeper in the water where the external pressure is elevated. They start by breathing out once and then combine several exhalations together. First, they follow their own rhythm and then that imposed by the teacher. The question arises whether such respiratory muscle training could be substituted by training on dry land, using appropriate appliances (PowerBreathe, PowerLung).  

Topic: Establishment of the impact of tiredness of respiratory muscles on the execution of underwater elements (flip turns and glides) during a swimming performance

When breathing is limited and hindered during swimming, the respiratory muscles are also burdened with the task of creating propulsion. They execute strokes which have been proven to tire the respiratory muscles even more than the limited and obstructed breathing due to water environment. Tiredness of the breathing muscles can cause problems (slower flip turns, shorter glides) when executing underwater elements at the end of the swimming performance.

Topic: Establishment of the impact of respiratory muscle strength training, as a supplementary element of standard swimming training, on a swimmer’s performance

Respiratory muscle strength is an important limiting factor in medium-long and long swimming disciplines. Therefore, training for developing the strength of these muscles is increasingly gaining ground as an addition to standard swimming training. As there are still many unknowns in this area, it would be interesting to find out what the effects are of such training on the ability to swim with fewer breaths and on the execution of underwater elements of a swimming performance. We are also interested in the effects after interrupting such training.

 

Science: Social sciences

Area: Sport

Sub-area: Kinesiology: bio-psycho-social aspects

 

Presentation of research area:

Topic: Establishment of the impact of different swimming learning and teaching methods as well as use of different accessories on non-swimmers’ or swimmers’ knowledge

Around the world and in Slovenia, learning to swim is a very broad area that encompasses many different teaching approaches and methods, using different accessories. This area is mainly based on experiential findings, as there is a scarcity of in-depth scientific research. This is a pity, because swimming lessons are a part of school curricula in many countries of the world. New scientific findings could contribute to better efficiency of swimming courses, i.e. the favourable effects on children’s swimming knowledge and consequently greater personal safety when moving in water or next to it. It could also bring a financial advantage as the swimming courses could become shorter and less expensive.

Researcher number: 20444

Science: Social sciences

Area: Sport

Sub-area: Kinesiology – medical aspect (orthopaedics, physiatry, etc.)

 

Presentation of research area:

Area 1: Towards the national physical exercise programme for dialysis patients

Patients with chronic renal failure who receive renal dialysis treatment are not sufficiently physically active; the correlation between insufficient physical activity and higher mortality in this population is well proven. There is a lack of evidence about which types and models of physical exercise organisation are the most suitable and the most effective. The main goal of our research problem is to find the best organisation type and content for systematic physical exercise programmes for dialysis patients. The Italian multi-centric EXCITE study tested a simple physical exercise system, whereas in a recent Slovenian study we proved that involvement of a kinesiologist and addition of functional physical exercise before dialysis for two months significantly and clinically importantly improve muscle strength, endurance, balance and flexibility compared to cycling while receiving dialysis. The aim of the research problem is to introduce and compare the abovementioned two systems of physical exercise with renal dialysis patients in a randomised controlled study. The first physical exercise system will introduce regular metronome-stimulated walking based on the Italian EXCITE study. This will be compared to a physical exercise system that was developed by the Ljubljana University Medical Centre, which includes kinesiologist guidance of patients during functional exercises before they receive dialysis, again with the addition of cycling while receiving dialysis. The main goal of the studies that we have conducted since 2015 with renal dialysis patients is to introduce a national physical exercise programme for these patients. Our studies are conducted in close collaboration with the Ljubljana University Medical Centre (Nephrology Department) with which we have signed an Institutional Collaboration Agreement. Top experts in the field of treating dialysis patients are working with us. This research area poses interesting challenges to a doctoral candidate, while also offering opportunities for research and innovative work under the leadership of a qualified mentor and in a team of top experts.

 

Area 2: Effect of cognitive and physical intra-dialysis exercise on the functional status of renal dialysis patients

Renal dialysis (RD) patients have lower cognitive abilities and impaired physical ability compared to healthy individuals. These patients are less physically active and activate their mental functions to a lesser extent than the general population. Doctors usually do not recognise cognitive decline in such patients; that is why cognitive impairment is greatly underestimated and not treated appropriately. Cognitive decline is bigger and progresses faster than in the general population so preventive and therapeutic interventions are of the utmost importance. The main research goal is to test the effect of cognitive training in combination with physical exercise on cognitive abilities, physical ability and frailty indicators in RD patients. In this framework we will test the feasibility of the innovative cognitive platform for the implementation of intra-dialysis cognitive training with RD patients. We will conduct a randomised controlled study of the effects of a combined non-pharmacological intervention in the forms of intra-dialysis physical exercise (cycling) and intra-dialysis cognitive training on the cognitive abilities, frailty indicators and physical ability of RD patients. Patients who will be included in the intervention will be compared to the control group which will receive standard medical treatment. The intervention will last for 12 weeks. Our studies are conducted in close collaboration with the Ljubljana University Medical Centre (Nephrology Department) with which we have signed an Institutional Collaboration Agreement. Top experts in the field of treating dialysis patients are working with us.

 

Area 3: Research of static and dynamic body posture in patients with lower back pain

The incidence of lower back pain is a big problem in society and a very topical issue during the current lockdown and a considerable change in people's lifestyle. The consequences include increased sedentary lifestyle and a decline in physical activity. Medical interventions related to lower back pain are relatively well researched and explained, but there are still some grey areas that will be dealt with in greater depth in the framework of a doctoral thesis. Research will be conducted in three directions: 1. a study of static and dynamic sagittal imbalance and a study of the effects of physical exercise and consulting on decreasing clinical symptoms of sagittal imbalance, 2. a study of non-specific (functional) lower back pain and a study of the effects of physical exercise and consulting on the prevention and elimination of pain and 3. a study of spinal stenosis, the most frequent symptom of which is neurogenic claudication, i.e. pain in the legs that intensifies with waking and the related study of the effects of physical exercise and consulting on the prevention and reduction of claudication. Our studies are conducted in close collaboration with the Ljubljana University Medical Centre (Orthopaedics Department) with which we have signed an Institutional Collaboration Agreement. Top experts in the field of spinal diseases are working with us. The research area poses interesting challenges to a doctoral candidate, while also offering opportunities for research and innovative work under the leadership of a qualified mentor and in a team of top experts.

Researcher number: 28474

Science: Social sciences

Area: Sport

 

Presentation of research area:

The potential doctoral student will have the possibility to conduct research in the field of environmental sport physiology and ergonomy. The aim of the studies that we conduct in cooperation with Slovenian (IJS) and foreign (University of Lausanne, University of Lyon) partners is to arrive at new findings in the field of adaptation of individuals to different environmental conditions (hypoxia/altitude/heat) and use them for training purposes for athletes, preventive purposes for the working population and curative purposes for clinical populations. Recently, we have dedicated most of our research attention to studying the ability to adapt to hypoxia/altitude in “more vulnerable” populations and the study of potential cross-adaptation effect between heat and hypoxia on the improvement of athletic performance. We would like to conduct more studies in this field in the future, especially with women, as we currently know only a little about potential gender differences in this field.

Researcher number: 24379

Science: Social sciences

Area: Psychology

Sub-area: Sport psychology

 

Presentation of research area:

I am professionally dedicated to researching the psychological profile of coaches – their personality traits, the motivational structure of coaches in different sports, leadership styles of individual coaches, value structure of coaches, etc. Another research area is the psychological characteristics of athletes in high-risk sports – how do they differ compared to the general population and athletes from other sports, what kind of personality, motivation and values they have and what their need for stimuli is. The fourth important area of research is the psychological preparation of athletes – how do they experience zeal in sports activity (also compared to other areas such as music), and research of modern approaches in the psychological preparation of athletes, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Researcher number: 20780

Science: Social sciences

Area: Sport

Sub-area: Kinesiological aspect

 

Presentation of research area:

A healthy lifestyle includes a person’s behaviour that is oriented towards maintaining and improving health and is reflected in body fitness. Body fitness can be improved with many interventional programmes that include nutrition recommendations, along with restriction on the use of alcohol and tobacco products, a suitable amount of night sleep, daily rest, psychological relaxation and physical activity. The research area encompasses the study of the modification of body fitness using different intervention and training programmes, along with modern diagnostic and information-communication technology.

Fitness exercise in the contemporary expert domain goes beyond exercise for strength and body shaping, as it also includes exercise for improving physical efficiency. This means that the emphasis is also on maintaining and improving movement patterns. The research area encompasses the interconnection of training programmes by modifying body fitness and physical efficiency.

Quality of movement in sport includes a suitable level of body fitness, physical efficiency and competence. Body fitness is defined with morphological components that measure body characteristics; physical efficiency is defined by an appropriate level of physical abilities; physical competence includes appropriate sports knowledge. The research area encompasses a study of the interconnectedness of body fitness, physical efficiency and physical competence for better physical performance in sport.

 

Researcher number: 12289

Science: Social sciences

Area: Sport

Sub-area: Kinesiology, sports games, analysis of efficiency in sport

 

Presentation of research area:

I work in the field of “Analysis of basic movement and specific abilities and impact on athletes competitive performance”, where the basic research goals include: identification and verification of characteristics of measurement procedures, designing of measuring models for different areas of the bio-psycho-social status of athletes, identification of correlations between potential, realisation and competitive dimensions as well as design of the organisational model of measurement, monitoring and supervision of athletes. Another area is “Analyses of the playing efficiency of athletes”, where the research goals are associated with the analysis of playing characteristics of tennis players during matches and training, correlation between playing indicators and performance as well as the detailed analysis of time, space and motor (tactical/technical) characteristics of a game of tennis. The third area is “Impact of specific training loading on the athletes’ musculoskeletal system” where the goals are associated with the use and verification of characteristics of different measurement procedures and analysis of the impact of unilateral loading on the musculoskeletal system in athletes.

Researcher number: 16124

Science: Social sciences/Education

Area: Kinesiology

Sub-area: Alpine skiing/Expert modelling/Physical abilities/Skiing technique/Skiing of disabled persons

 

Presentation of research area:

Modelling of athletes’ performance in selected sport disciplines and transformation procedures using the Sport Manager expert system; research project, including the development of more complex expert models of potential and competitive performance in alpine skiing.

Kinematic analysis of the tracks and velocities of the best slalom competitors: An important contribution to the broader recognition of kinematic analyses using GPS technology on a sample of top-ranking competitors in alpine skiing.

Progressivity of basic elements of the Slovenian national alpine ski school: biomechanical analysis of the implementation of the hierarchy of elements of the official alpine ski school and the first example of scientific corroboration of the acceleration of the speed of implementation of the hierarchy of elements in the official ski school based on measurements and comparisons of kinematic parameters.

The multi-axis prosthetic knee resembles alpine skiing movements of an intact leg: An important study in the field of skiing of disabled persons, involving the measurement of the movement of ski boots in ankle and knee joints in simulations of different skiing styles, using a special above-knee prosthesis for skiing.

Balance, basic anthropometrics and performance in young alpine skiers: An important contribution to the use of state-of-the-art measurement tools (Biodex) for the needs of a longitudinal analysis of the correlation between balance, anthropometric characteristics and competitive performance of two generations of younger categories in alpine skiing.

Correlation between knowledge of gymnastic elements and performance success in younger categories of alpine skiing: inclusion of elements of acrobatics in the process of preparation of young competitors in alpine skiing.

Researcher number: 20405

Science: Social sciences

Area: Sport

Sub-area: Kinesiology – teaching aspect (physical education, training, motor learning)

 

Presentation of research area:

He is the head of the SLOfit research group at the Faculty of Sport. He researches children’s physical activity, their physical and sports development, the didactics of physical education and some aspects of sport management. Prof. Gregor Jurak has managed several European projects at the national level. He is active in different segments of Slovenian sport and has contributed to some systemic solutions in it. He is internationally active in GOFPeP (Global Forum for Physical Education Pedagogy), FIEP (Fédération Internationale d'Education Physique) and CEREPS (European Council of Research in Physical Education and School Sport). www.slofit.org/ekipa

Researcher number: 20755

Science: Social sciences

Area: Sport

Sub-area: Kinesiology – biomechanical, biometrical aspects

 

Science: Medical sciences

Area: Health sciences

 

Presentation of research area:

In the broader sense, the research area is biomechanics. In this basic kinesiology field, we study the movement of human beings/athletes and their interaction with the environment/sports gear, using mechanics approaches. The bulk of our activities include the optimisation of movement performance and equipment (in different sports) as well as healthy movement and reduced injury risk. Many studies are related to the development of biomechanical measurement technologies and tools, with which movement and/or (sports) gear/equipment can be studied. As a long-standing head of the Laboratory of Biomechanics, Dr Supej has access to the state-of-the-art research equipment, while his long years of intensive collaboration with foreign experts as well as participation in various European and Slovenian research and industrial projects guarantee a broad array of research possibilities.

Researcher number: 13752

Science: Social sciences

Area: Sport

Sub-area: Kinesiology

 

Presentation of research area:

Prof. Dr Doupona’s research work dedicated to the field of sociology of sport, and she has recently been extensively researching social factors that impact sports activity or sports engagement, particularly at a competitive level. In this relation, she focuses on research in the field of national identity and sport, investigating in depth the effect of identification, national pride and naturalisation effects on the formation of national identity.

Important research content that she researches as a member of large international research groups includes: inequality in sport, sexual violence in sport and double career. In the past decade, Prof. Doupona has directed more interest in the field of “double career” which is defined as a “career with an emphasis on sport and study or work”. In relation to the above, she manages several international projects where she researches career transitions and planning of an athlete’s double career.