As an athletic trainer, a massage therapist and a runner, I was drawn to recovery from exercise as a research focus for my PhD. Much of this interest was drawn from my own clinical practices and the questions posed to me by my patients as well as from my teaching and the questions brought to me by my students. I am drawn toward research that focuses less on the “lab rat” mentality of research in artificial situations but more on research that can be obtained from a real life situation. Many clinicians use an anecdotal approach to treatment, instead of relying on the research because the clinicians do not believe that the research is relevant in the clinic. And many athletes rely on sources that are questionable because they do not understand the research or the research is misrepresented in the popular media. I want to be able to bridge the gap between the science and the user, be it the clinician or the athlete.
While pursuing my PhD at the University of Hawaii, I used heart rate variability (HRV) as a measure of autonomic balance, the balance between our parasympathetic (rest and digest) and sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous systems. As a clinical assistant professor at the University of Tulsa I am continuing to use these measures in my research. Being a clinical professor means my focus is more clinical than research. And my work as a clinician with TU Sports Medicine allows me to continue to pursue more clinical-based research working directly with the athletes. I want to continue to pursue: what does recovery look like from an objective measure? What does it look like from a subjective measure? How can we determine if the modalities we are using really lead to improvements in recovery?