School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Sam graduated with a First in Sport and Exercise Sciences from The University of Birmingham.  On graduating she worked in the film and television industry, and later for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.  She then went to the United States to pursue further study in biomechanics and worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant while gaining an MSc Kinesiology, a Masters in Applied Statistics and a PhD in Kinesiology from Penn State University.  Sam also holds a Post-graduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education, and a BSc Mathematics degree from the Open University. 

Sam was recognised as a Senior Fellow of the HEA in 2019 for her work in designing and leading the implementation of personal academic tutoring and student support systems, cross-institutional projects enhancing curriculum design and quality assurance, and influencing practice around supporting the transition to university with the aim of reducing attainment gaps.

Sam is currently working on externally funded research collaborations 1) using opto-electronic (motion capture) plethysmography for the diagnosis and retraining of dysfunctional breathing; and 2) using measures of complexity and neuro-muscular modelling to elucidate mechanisms and effects of neuromuscular fatigue.

Sam’s expertise is in biomechanics and specifically motion capture and movement analysis, simulation of muscle contraction, and techniques used to assess neuromuscular function such as electromyography and muscle stimulation.   Currently, she has a number of interdisciplinary collaborations that exploit these interests. 

  1. Opto-electronic plethysmography (OEP): This project has developed a motion capture-based system for the monitoring of breathing patterns at rest and during exercise.  OEP provides rich information about the contribution and relative timing of different chest compartment motion to overall breath volume.  The phase angle gives information about the relative timing of motion in sub-compartments of the thorax and abdomen and this work to date has shown that this and other metrics differ between healthy individuals and those with mild to moderate asthma, and can also distinguish between these two groups and individuals with dysfunctional breathing patterns.  The project has also developed a real-time feedback system aimed at retraining breathing patterns in those with dysfunctional breathing patterns during exercise.  Previous and current collaborators in this project area include Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma and University of Bergen.  Expertise in this area was exploited in a two year Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership.
  2. Complexity of fatigue: This research relates the change in the complexity (or regularity) of the fluctuations in muscle force to the development of muscle fatigue in an effort to understand the underlying physiological processes and the neuro-motor effects of fatigue development in single muscle group and whole body exercise.  This research has used both experimental and simulation approaches and has previously received funding from The Leverhulme Trust and the Eastern Academic Research Consortium.
  3. Neuro-muscular and movement performance effects of age-based stereotype threat: Age-based stereotype threat effects arise when an individual feels at risk of confirming a negative stereotype about their group, and consequently underperforms on stereotype relevant tasks.  Such effects have largely been investigated in memory and cognitive performance domains, but it is less clear how stereotype threat affects motor skills, which are less dependent on cognitive resources and controlled processing, and more reliant on unconscious or automatic processing.  Nevertheless, it is likely that anxiety associated with stereotype salience affects movement and neuromuscular performance.  This project has shown that anxiety-mediated declines in handgrip strength occur with stereotype threat.  Further work has shown that the strength of such effects may be dependent on the environment, and the particular characteristics of the population, which are both factors that affect the stereotype salience.  Given that handgrip strength is increasingly used clinically as a measure of functional capacity, and suitability for clinical intervention, such findings have crucially important consequences for clinical assessments. 

Sam holds an honorary academic position at the University of Kent and is an external supervisor for a number of PhD students there.

Sam is also a member of the supervisory committee for a PhD project at George Washington University, USA.

Invited talks:

“Changing culture and practice: developing and implementing academic advising” 4th AUA South Regional Symposium: Embracing Change, Wednesday, 26th June 2019, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK.


  • Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
  • Clinical Biomechanics
  • Journal of Biomechanics
  • Journal of Applied Biomechanics
  • Gait and Posture
  • Annals of Biomedical Engineering
  • Medical Engineering and Physics
  • Journal of the Royal Society Interface
  1. Pethick, J., Casselton, C., Winter, S.L., & Burnley, M. (2020) Ischemic Preconditioning Blunts Loss of Knee Extensor Torque Complexity with Fatigue. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (In press). doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002475
  2. Pethick, J., Winter, S.L., & Burnley, M. (2020) Physiological evidence that the critical torque is a phase transition not a threshold. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (In press). doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002389
  3. Smith, S., Micklewright, D., Winter, S.L., & Mauger, A. (2020) Muscle pain induced by hypertonic saline in the knee extensors decreases single-limb isometric time to task failure. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 120(9): 2047-2058.
  4. Key, A. J. M., Farr, I., Hunter, R., & Winter, S.L. (2020) 'Muscle recruitment and stone tool use ergonomics across three million years of Palaeolithic technological transitions. Journal of Human Evolution (144) 102796. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2020.102796
  5. Pethick, J., Winter, Winter, S.L., & Burnley, M. (2019) Relationship between muscle metabolic rate and muscle torque complexity during fatiguing intermittent isometric contractions in humans. Physiological Reports, 7 (18). doi:10.14814/phy2.14240
  6. Pethick, J., Winter, S.L., & Burnley, M. (2019) Fatigue reduces the complexity of knee extensor torque during fatiguing sustained isometric contractions. European Journal of Sport Science, 19(10): 1349-1358. doi:10.1080/17461391.2019.1599450
  7. Pethick J, Whiteaway K, Winter, S.L., & Burnley M. (2019). Prolonged depression of knee extensor torque complexity following eccentric exercise. Experimental Physiology, 104 (1): 100-111. doi:10.1113/EP087295
  8. Massaroni, C., Piaia Silvatti, A., Levai, I. K., Dickinson, J. W., Winter, S.L., Schena, E., & Silvestri, S. (2018) Comparison of marker models for the analysis of the volume variation and thoracoabdominal motion pattern in untrained and trained participants. Journal of Biomechanics, 76:  247-252. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2018.05.036
  9. Pethick, J., Winter, S.L., & Burnley, M. (2018). Effects of ipsilateral and contralateral fatigue and muscle blood flow occlusion on the complexity of knee‐extensor torque output in humans. Experimental Physiology, 103: 956–967. doi: 10.1113/EP087295
  10. Winter, S.L., Forrest, S. M., Wallace, J. & Challis, J. H. (2018) A Dual X-Ray Absorptiometry Validated Geometric Model for the Calculation of Body Segment Inertial Parameters of Young Females. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 34 (2): 89-95. doi: 10.1123/jab.2016-0307
  11. Pethick, J., Winter, S.L., & Burnley, M. (2018). Caffeine ingestion attenuates fatigue-induced loss of muscle torque complexity. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 50(2): 236–245. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001441
  12. Massaroni, C., Carraro, E., Vianello, A., Miccinilli, S., Morrone, M., Levai, I. K., Schena, E., Saccomandi, P., Sterzi, S., Dickinson, J. W., Winter, S.L., & Silves, S. (2017) Optoelectronic plethysmography in clinical practice and research: a systematic review. European Respiratory Journal, 93(5):339-354. doi: 10.1159/000462916
  13. Winter, S.L. & Challis, J.H. (2017) Classifying the variability in impact and active peak vertical ground reaction forces during running using DFA and ARFIMA models. Human Movement Science, 50: 153-160. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2016.12.003
  14. Graham, C. S., Twyman, D. M., Dietz, K. C., & Winter, S.L. (2016) Are current methods of partial weight bearing instruction accurately translating to crutch assisted gait? International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 23(5): 215-220. doi: 10.12968/ijtr.2016.23.5.215
  15. Pethick, J., Winter, S.L., & Burnley, M. (2016) Loss of knee extensor torque complexity during fatiguing isometric muscle contractions occurs exclusively above the critical torque. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 310: R1144-R1153. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00019.2016
  16. Pethick, J., Winter, S.L., & Burnley, M. (2015). Fatigue reduces the complexity of knee extensor torque fluctuations during maximal and submaximal intermittent isometric contractions in man. The Journal of Physiology, 593(8):2085-96. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2014.284380
  17. Forrest, S.M., Challis, J.H., and Winter, S.L. (2014) The effect of signal acquisition and processing choices on ApEn values: towards a “gold standard” for distinguishing effort levels from isometric force records. Medical Engineering and Physics, 36: 676-683. doi: 10.1016/j.medengphy.2014.02.017
  18. Challis, J. H., Winter, S.L., and Kuperavage, A. J. (2012) Comparison of male and female lower limb segment inertial properties. Journal of Biomechanics. 45(15): 2690-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2012.07.019
  19. Winter, S.L., and Challis, J.H. (2010) The force-length curves of the human rectus femoris and gastrocnemius muscles in vivo. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 26(1): 45-51. doi: 10.1123/jab.26.1.45
  20. Winter, S.L. and Challis, J.H. (2010) The expression of the force-length relationship in vivo: a simulation study. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 262(4): 634-643. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.10.028
  21. Higgs, F., and Winter, S.L. (2009) The effect of a four-week proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching programme on isokinetic torque production. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(3): 1442-1447. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181a392c4