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Ever wondered how the sport, health and nutritional sciences can be applied to challenges in the real world?

Phil Price has spent the past five years recovering from four knee surgeries. Thanks to a practical application of these specialist areas, this summer, he was able to climb Mount Elbrus in Southern Russia.

Find out more about how different areas of sport science helped him reach his peak:

St Mary’s offers a range of programmes that train students to understand what it takes to complete a challenge like this:

One area of exercise science that students study at St Mary’s is the V022max test. This test measures the maximum rate of oxygen consumed during exercise, which is an important indicator of cardiovascular health and fitness.

Phil used this before he took on his peak, to inform how he trained and keep track of his progress. Before he began, endurance was the weakest part of his fitness. Without knowing exactly what his training level was, Phil might not have been properly prepared to climb Elbrus and could have failed.

Find out more about what you could study on a Nutrition programme at St Mary’s:

Students at St Mary’s learn how to use state of the art tools like the BodPod, which Phil used, to understand an individual's body composition. When the data from this is combined with a food diary, you are able to advise on what changes someone should make to be successful in improving their health and fitness.

To reach his peak, Phil needed to adhere to a carbohydrate-rich diet. On the mountain he took lots of flapjacks, malt loaf and sweets to keep his energy levels high. One of the most important factors that can often get overlooked, because of the freezing temperatures, is hydration. Phil had to drink plenty of water to replenish what he was losing through sweat.

To understand more about how students on one of our Strength and Conditioning or Coaching courses apply their knowledge, have a look at our programme pages:

As a former rugby player and an avid weightlifter, Phil was already quite strong before he began preparing his challenge, however he had to condition his body for walking down the mountain. This part of the climb put a phenomenal strain on him physically, and following his four knee surgeries he had to be especially careful.

One of the major skills our students learn in Strength and Conditioning is how to help athletes apply their fitness to a specific sport, from rugby and mountaineering, to working with the Royal Ballet. As one of the fastest growing areas of sport science, graduates have the opportunity and skills to work across a range of sports. 

To find out more about how you could learn to help people recover from injuries and prepare for physical challenges, check out one of our courses:

Having had four knee surgeries, including two Anterior Cruciate Ligament repairs, since 2012, one of Phil’s biggest concerns was to make sure his legs were in excellent form. 

As Phil was well on the road to recovery, with his last surgery occurring in 2016, he focussed on a building his muscular strength around his knees to make sure he was as prepared as possible for the pressure they would be under.

Most injuries and deaths on Mount Elbrus occur during the descent, which is when climbers are most tired and most exertion is put on the knees, so it was vital for Phil to be properly prepared.

We offer a range of courses that explore exercise physiology, find out more below:

Using the chamber, Phil was able to prepare physiologically for the danger that altitude sickness could cause and test how his body could perform at an altitude of 5000m.

Doing this acclimatisation and testing work helped Phil to prepare for conditions on the mountain and reduce the risk of the lower oxygen levels causing him serious harm, the specialist equipment at St Mary's was essential for him to successfully do this. 

To find out more about how you can find a career in sport psychology and coaching check out some of our degrees:

Recovering from four knee surgeries would usually be a lot for someone to recover from; adding an ascent of one of the highest peaks in the world, where more people die a year than Mount Everest, takes a lot of mental strength and resilience.

To get ready for his climb Phil worked with Emily to build coping strategies for the mental pressure of such a challenge, to help keep him focussed on the climb.