Dr Martine Verheul

Senior Lecturer in Skill Acquisition & Motor Control


Martine has been lecturing in Motor Control at the University of Edinburgh since 2006. She is a member of the Human Performance Science Research Group.

Martine studied Human Movement Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. For her MSc degree, she studied the dynamic characteristics of the walking pattern of people with Parkinson's disease and she spent four months at the Montreal Rehabilitation Institute investigating the control of arm movements in people who had experienced a stroke. Martine conducted her subsequent PhD research in Neuropsychology at the University of Groningen. She analysed the nature of the asymmetry in bimanual coordination in right-handers and left-handers, comparing various models, and investigated the link between the coordination difficulties in people with Parkinson's disease and the asymmetry of symptoms between the left and right side of the body. She then took a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Institute for Biophysical and Clinical Research into Human Movement at the Manchester Metropolitan University, where she taught Sport and Exercise Science students and focused her research on the coordination and development of sports skills, building on her previous research to investigate how people coordinate the different parts of their body and external information in goal-directed, whole-body tasks, such as intercepting a moving ball. Participants in her research ranged from children with cerebral palsy to elite football players.

Now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, she teaches Applied Sport Science students and Physical Education students about motor coordination, motor learning and motor development. Inspired by the dynamic approach to motor development and the constraints-led approach to motor learning (two complementary approaches), she teaches about the importance of exploration and guided discovery when learning movement skills. She has been involved in research into the nature of movement education in the pre-school in collaboration with the Developmental Physical Education Group and is a member of the Perception Movement Action Research Centre. She has supervised PhD research projects in he area of adapted physical activity and disability sport, for example on an exercise intervention for people with cerebellar ataxia and a learning-to-swim programme for children with cerebral palsy. She is currently involved in frame running research, a World Para Athletics event for people with a neurological impairment that affects their balance and coordination. Martine feels strongly about access to sport and physical activity and aims to break down barriers and facilitate participation through her research and knowledge exchange activities in the area of adapted physical activity.

Undergraduate teaching

  • Motor Control (Year 4) (Course Organiser)
  • Exercise Prescription for Rehabilitation (Year 4)
  • Sport Science Project (Year 3) (Course Organiser)
  • Sport Science 3B: Skill Acquisition (Year 3) (Course Organiser)
  • Applying Sport Science (Year 3)
  • Sport Science 2D: Research Methods (Year 2) (Course Organiser)
  • Sport Science 2A: Skill Acquisition (Year 2)
  • Sport Science 1A: Skill Acquisition (Year 1)
  • Education 2A: Motor Development (Year 2)

Postgraduate teaching

  • PhD supervision
  • Sport Science Dissertation

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Areas of expertise:

  • Skill Acquisition and Motor Control 
  • Adapted Physical Activity
  • Para Sport (e.g., frame running)
  • Motor Control in Special Populations (e.g., cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, stroke)

Research summary

  • adapted physical activity, disability sport, para sport
  • frame running, CP sport
  • motor control in people with neurological conditions (cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, stroke)
  • motor coordination, motor control
  • motor development, motor learning and re-learning

Project activity


  • The effects of frame running on physical and psychosocial health and wellbeing

Frame running is a para sport event in which athletes run using a three-wheeled frame with a saddle, chest support and handle bars but no pedals. It is an event for people with impaired balance and coordination who are unable to run without the frame. For many athletes who take part in frame running there is no alternative sport with the same physiological demands. Athletes also report social and psychological benefits from participation in frame running. Athletes often use the term "freedom" to describe their experience of frame running. 

  • Frame running (RaceRunning) classification

Classification is fundamental to fair competition in para sport. In collaboration with Queen Margaret University, Martine has researched the relationship between athletes' impairments and their performance in frame running. The research has informed the new classification system for frame running. The research helped the development of frame running, which was accepted as World Para Athletics event in 2018. Research into frame running classification is continuing, with the focus now on uncommon and mixed impairment types, the reliability of impairment measures and their resistance to training by athletes.