Dr Stelios Psycharakis

Senior Lecturer in Biomechanics

  • Moray House School of Education & Sport, ISPEHS
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details


Stelios' interest in sport and exercise science originated from his sporting background. He was a competitive swimmer, won medals at home and abroad, and represented Greece for several years as a member of the national team. Stelios completed a BSc (Hons) in Sport Science & Physical Education in Greece, before moving to the UK to undertake an MSc in Sport & Exercise Science and a PhD in Biomechanics. He held lecturing posts at the University of Hull (2007) and Edinburgh Napier University (2007-2014), before joining the University of Edinburgh in September 2014. Stelios has been providing scientific support in the areas of biomechanics and performance analysis and has worked with elite athletes such as members of GB Swimming and of the Scottish Institute of Sport.


  • PhD in Biomechanics (University of Edinburgh)
  • MSc in Sport & Exercise Science (Leeds Metropolitan University)
  • BSc (Hons) Sport Science & Physical Education (University of Athens)
  • Qualified Physical Education Teacher
  • Qualified Swimming Coach

Undergraduate teaching

Course organiser for:

  • Sports Biomechanics 4 (BSc Applied Sport Science/ BMed Sports Medicine)
  • Sport Science 2C: Information Skills & Biomechanics (BSc Applied Sport Science)
  • Sport Science 1B: Biomechanics and Sport Psychology (BSc Applied Sport Science/ MA Physical Education)

Also contributing to teaching for:

  • Sport Science: Research Attachment 4 (BSc Applied Sport Science/ BMed Sports Medicine)

  • Exercise Prescription for Rehabilitation (BSc Applied Sport Science/ BMed Sports Medicine)
  • Dissertation (BSc Applied Sport Science/ BMed Sports Medicine)

Postgraduate teaching

MSc Dissertation supervision (MSc Strength & Conditioning)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Stelios is keen to supervise PhD projects in clinical biomechanics for health and rehabilitation, as well as in biomechanics for human performance enhancement. He is particularly interested in projects with a focus on aquatics. Examples include: aquatic exercise therapy for people with chronic low back pain or other MSDs, aquatic exercise for older adults, injury prevention in swimming, optimisation of swimming performance. If you are interested in pursuing a PhD in any of the above areas,  then feel free to contact Stelios directly to discuss your ideas. 

Current PhD students supervised

  • Nimra Arshad: Effectiveness of aquatic exercise therapy for people with chronic low back pain.
  • Suhaib Rambo: Prevention and rehabilitation of injuries in swimmers
  • Craig Riddle: A new coordination test for para sport classification: reliability, validity, and association with frame running performance.
  • Guy Stern: Exercise modalities for improving and maintaining functional capacity in  recreationally active, healthy older adults.
  • Jamie Hongyu:  Effects of HIIT on healthy inactive adults.

Past PhD students supervised

  • Margarida Dias: Three-dimensional kinematics in backstroke swimming: Reliability, Isokinetic Strength, and Asymmetries at Sub-maximal and Maximal Paces.
  • Alex Rawcliffe: A Biomechanical Analysis of British Army Foot-Drill: Implications of Lower-Extremity Musculoskeletal Injury in Entry-Level Recruit Populations.

Research summary

  • Aquatic exercise therapy for health, injury prevention and rehabilitation
  • Biomechanics for human performance enhancement, in particular for aquatic sports 
  • Interdisciplinary research in aquatic sports and activities

Current research interests

Stelios' main research interests lie within biomechanics for performance enhancement, and exercise for health, injury prevention and rehabilitation. His clinical research focuses on the use of aquatic exercise therapy for falls prevention in older adults and for the treatment and management of chronic back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders. Stelios' human performance enhancement research is centred on improving our understanding of human locomotion, especially in an aquatic environment, and on identifying new ways to improve performance. Stelios is an expert reviewer for funding bodies and for more than 30 academic journals. He is the chair of the committee of the European Network of Swimming Performance and a member of the scientific committee of the 'Biomechanics & Medicine in Swimming' conferences. 

Knowledge exchange

Stelios has organised and run KE and public engagement seminars for the 'WATER' project , which explored the suitability of a range of exercises in the water and on land for people with chronic low back pain. He is also involved in other KE activities and has provided consultancy for external companies in developing and optimising equipment used in sports and rehabilitation. 

Project activity


Current Projects

  • Chief Scientist Office, £350,025, 2023-2025. Psycharakis S (Principal Investigator), Skelton D, Fastier A, Linton L, Norrie J, Neilson A. 'AQUA STEPS: AQUAtic exerciSe ThEraPy for fall prevention in older adultS - A feasibility study'. 

One-third of people aged 65 years or over fall every year.  Falls reduce quality of life,  cause about 90% of hip fractures and half of deaths due to injury. Several factors that increase fall risk can be improved, such as balance, muscle weakness and physical function. Aquatic exercise could likely improve many of these factors, and has some advantages compared to exercise on land. For example, buoyancy reduces spine and joint loads, while hydrostatic pressure assists with balance and mobility. Through the Aqua Steps study, we will deliver a high-quality aquatic exercise intervention for people with high risk of falls. We will assess whether people are willing/able to participate and complete the intervention, we will have a preliminary look at the programme’s effects on falls risk and compare it with a land programme with established effects.


Previous Projects

  • Chief Scientist Office, £304,602, 2015-2017. Psycharakis S (Principal Investigator), Coleman S, Linton L, Kaliarntas K. 'The WATER project: Which AquaTic ExeRcises work best? Identifying muscle recruitment for aquatic exercises used in interventions for core strengthening and rehabilitation from musculoskeletal disorders'. 

The WATER project used wireless electromyography to measure muscle activation for the main trunk supporting muscles and on both dominant and non-dominant sides.  More than 40 exercises in the water and on land that can be used for the management and treatment of chronic low back pain were explored. The participants were people with chronic low back pain and individuals with no musculoskeletal disorders, and other outcome measures include pain, exertion and physical effort. The project provided an evidence base that could informs clinical practice and improve quality, efficiency and effectiveness of rehabilitation.



  • Sports Governing Body of Spain,  €24,000, 2021-2023.  Gonzalez-Rave JM (PI), Psycharakis S (named collaborator and chair of the network committee) et al. Three separate annual grants for the set-up and continuation of the 'European Network of Swimming Performance'.
  • Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, Spain, €3,300, 2022-2023 Yustres I (PI), Psycharakis S et al.  'Analysis of performance in major international swimming competitions'. 
  • Scottish Funding Council Innovation Scheme, £10,944, 2014-2016. Psycharakis S (PI). Funding for two separate projects on the 'Evaluation of the Swimbeam training machine' and  the 'Effectiveness of a new clinical device on strength, balance & flexibility (Kaliarntas K, Co-PI)'.

  • Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, £7,200, 2009-2014. Psycharakis S (PI). Funding for three collaborative projects with the universities of Athens (Greece), Waseda (Japan) and Houston (USA).

View all 32 publications on Research Explorer