Breast health mechanics research

Current research projects

Studying our Master of Research (MRes) Science allows you to focus your research interests on one or two areas of science and work towards translating your learning into research related outputs – such as a submission for a peer-reviewed publication; a peer reviewed research/knowledge transfer grant application, or a presentation.

MRes Science can be studied either full time (1-year) or part time (2-years). You will develop a wide variety of skills, experience and competence on this course, and the MRes will provide a thorough grounding for students moving towards Doctoral (PhD) studies, or pursuing research related activities as a career.

Please note this list of projects is not exhaustive and you'll need to meet and discuss the project you're interested in with a member of research staff before you apply.

MRes Science - Sport, Health and Exercise Science research projects:

Quantifying internal loading and muscular demand during physical activity using a female specific musculoskeletal simulation model

Supervisor: Dr Chris Mills

Whole body musculoskeletal (MSK) models fail to account for the effects of a moving female breast mass, therefore may misrepresent the overall kinematics and calculated loads within female participants. Further understanding of in vivo soft tissue behaviour combined with computer modelling techniques will enable improved assessment of torso loading of women in the workplace, prediction of changes in muscular demand following breast augmentation or reduction surgery, and improved apparel design for health, exercise and well-being. This project will include collection of breast biomechanics data to inform and develop a female specific musculoskeletal model to understand how soft tissue motion effects internal loading.

Soft tissue dynamics during impact activities

Supervisor: Dr Chris Mills

During impact situations, the intra-segmental soft tissue motion of the human body moves / oscillates dissipating force. The transient forces involved are normally high and produce mechanical shocks when compared to active muscularly directed human motion. This project aims to quantify the soft tissue behaviour during impact situations to implement into musculoskeletal computer simulation models to understand how soft tissue motion effects internal loading.

An analysis of market segmentation and product specificity in the sport of road cycling

Supervisor: Dr Kieren McEwan

Recent anecdotal evidence within the cycling industry indicates the potential for a downturn in sales in the near future. Meanwhile the industry is becoming increasingly specialised with new niche markets such as gravel racing emerging. Understanding the way that the cycling market is diversifying and pluralising is key to understanding the potential consumers which make up the road cycling market; this project seeks to explore and chart the various market segments to assist those providing products and services to consumers within the cycling industry.

Exploring the potential health and social benefits of participation in walking football

Supervisor: Dr Kieren McEwan

Walking football is a recently devised variation of the sport allowing individuals to continue to participate in the sport regardless of their health status. Staying active into old age provides a positive health and social benefit to individuals, and this project seeks to establish what physical health, mental health and social benefits participants gain from being involved in walking football. The ultimate outcome of this investigation will be to provide further information for organisations interested in delivering exercise services related to health, wellbeing and ageing.

Exploring the association of task and ego orientation to competitiveness traits among cycle sports participants

Supervisor: Dr Kieren McEwan

Recent research on the sport of mountain biking has identified competitiveness as a defining trait characteristic. This factor defines the difference between participants taking part in various formats of the sport. It has also been hypothesised that the task and ego orientation of participants may be linked, and may be related to competitiveness as a trait characteristic. This project aims to explore this hypothesis and establish whether these concepts can be linked through an observation of participants across a wide range of cycle sports.

The role of exercise testing in elective and non-elective surgical screening and the effect of exercise prescription in managing surgical risk

Supervisor: Dr Andrew Scott

Pre-surgical exercise testing is increasingly commonplace in UK hospitals to enhance post-surgical management, however there is sparse evidence of exercise interventions to enhance post-surgical prognosis. This project aims to investigate the optimisation of exercise to enhance post-operative outcomes. Such projects may involve patient groups or apparently healthy participants for pilot study purposes.

Evaluating exercise referral services

Supervisor: Dr Andrew Scott

Structured and supervised exercise has been demonstrated to improve numerous health outcomes. This project aims to investigate models of best practice and identify areas requiring optimisation in community exercise referral services, possibly with an emphasis on a specific referred medical condition.

The use of exercise training for patients with long term conditions

Supervisor: Dr Andrew Scott

This project aims to investigate the efficacy of exercise provision for patients with cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cancer, stroke, long term neurological conditions or at risk of falls. This includes increasing physical activity in patients with chronic heart failure and DESMOND attendees, as well as enhancing exercise maintenance in COPD and facilitating graduation from phase III to phase IV in patients with cardiovascular disease. This project could also investigate the feasibility of using established clinical exercise services for other non-commissioned clinical disorders/services.

The development of a non-invasive method of assessing muscle temperature in humans

Supervisors: Dr Joe Costello and Dr Heather Massey

At present, measurement of muscle temperature is a time consuming, invasive, and expensive technique that requires trained staff and represents a risk for contamination. A method for tracking muscle temperature noninvasively would be useful, particularly during exposure to environmental extremes and during exercise. This project seeks to develop a non-invasive, practical, and inexpensive method of assessing intramuscular temperature when human are exposed to extremes of temperature.

The optimisation of training methods for improving perceptual skill

Supervisor: Dr Matt Dicks

Current perceptual skill training approaches are based on the assumption that replication of one expert’s gaze pattern will lead to improvements in performance for all individuals. However, research has indicated variation in the gaze patterns of experts, leading to questions over the suitability of typical training approaches. This project will therefore seek to examine how the scheduling of different training interventions, based on the variation of different expert examples, impact upon on skill learning. Research in this area spans across a range of different domains including sport performance and health care settings.

Examining the work practices and operational environments of referees from a transnational comparative perspective

Supervisor: Dr Tom Webb

This project would examine the current environments that match officials operate within. This could be domestically in an individual chosen sport or across sports, or in a number of European countries through comparative analysis. The research will aim to develop information around this subject area and to provide guidelines, policy recommendations and interventions to inform governing bodies on improving operational environments. Research will be explorative, given the lack of current research in this subject area. The research will be interdisciplinary in nature, predominantly focusing on management and social science approaches.

The impact of professionalisation on Women's Football

Supervisor: Dr Mike Rayner

With an estimated 26 million female players globally, of which 6 million are based in Europe, the evolution of football as a sport and as an industry over the last sixty years has been dramatic. When we look at elites able to earn a living from the game, a gender disparity is amplified: if there are 60,000 professional players registered in Europe, for example, very few are women. This is striking because the idea of amateurism has, to a large degree, defined what it is to be a professional. Even under FIFA rules, if a player earns more for their football-playing activity than the expenses that are incurred in performing those duties, they must have a written contract and are thereby considered a professional. While those who do not meet these criteria are considered amateurs, the word professional encompasses a considerable range of activity, from the essentially casual participant supplementing their main income through football, to the multi-millionaire players of Europe's big five leagues in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

This research project will examine the direct impact that this ‘Professionalisation’ has had on Women’s football. The project will involve both qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches in order to fully examine the phenomena of Professionalism within Women’s football and will be interdisciplinary in nature.

The history of Women's Rugby Union in England

Supervisor: Dr Mike Rayner

The game of rugby has changed significantly in the course of its history. In the early part of the 19th century it evolved from a folk game played by ruffians to a recreational activity of custom and ritual for public schoolboys (Collin, 2009, Harris, 2010, Smart, 2009). From the 1820s rugby represented an opportunity for gentlemen to demonstrate physical prowess and masculinity and in more recent times it has developed into an activity that reflects the changing attitudes towards professional sport. For the most part of the last one hundred years, rugby union has been arguably the dominant winter sport of the British upper and middle classes, predominantly the male members of the emergent entrepreneurial class. However in recent times, contact sports such as rugby union has seen a challenge to this central male hegemony through the evolution of the nexus between the issues of embodiment, professionalism and sexuality. This research proposes to explore the historical evolution of women’s rugby union and contextualize its development in the modern sporting landscape.

Biomechanical asymmetry related to recovery following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Supervisor: Dr Tim Exell

Incident rates of ACL rupture are greatest in 16-39 year olds at almost 1-in-1,000. Injuries to the ACL can severely impact mobility, physical activity and quality of life. ACL injuries also account for some of the largest amounts of time lost to injury in elite sports people, at a substantial cost to players and their clubs. The aim of this project is to use biomechanical indicators of asymmetry to inform recovery from ACL reconstruction. The research will involve collection of biomechanical data from a control group and participants that have previously undergone ACL reconstruction to assess how well people recover from the injury in comparison to a non-injured control group.

Within-game thriving in sport performers

Supervisor: Dr Daniel J Brown

Sport performers can respond to the demands they experience in competition in a number of ways. For example, they may succumb to the pressures, they may manage them adequately, or they may thrive on them; that is, they may experience both development and success. Recent literature has suggested that a possible explanation for thriving may be the ability of performers to separate their matches into to positive and negative phases (e.g., poor first half, excellent second half). This project seeks to examine whether performers do evaluate match phases differently and how this affects their experience of thriving.

An exploration of thriving in sports coaches

Supervisors: Dr Daniel J. Brown and Dr Richard Thelwell

The ability of sports coaches to cope with the demands they experience has important implications on their own performances and those displayed by their athletes. A growing body of literature has examined how coaches respond to these demands and the strategies they employ - however, no knowledge exists on the most adaptive of these responses (thriving). To provide insight in this area, this project will explore coaches’ experiences of thriving, the impact that it has, and the factors that may facilitate it.

The lasting effects of being a student-athlete

Supervisor: Dr Daniel J. Brown

During their time at university student-athletes experience simultaneous transitions in athletic, academic/vocational, psychosocial, and psychological areas of their lives. These transitions are often challenging and require personal adaptation for them to be made successfully. An increasing number of studies have provided insight into these alterations during a student-athletes’ time at university, but little is known about whether the transitions have any lasting effects on his or her post-university career. The purpose of this qualitative project is to explore this question and to develop an understanding of how any changes experienced as a student-athlete influence future life experiences.

Biomechanical asymmetry of step characteristics during running

Supervisor: Dr Tim Exell

Biomechanical asymmetry of step characteristics (step velocity, length and frequency) has been shown to be present in many athletes. Asymmetry of these variables may predispose athletes to injury due to increased loading of one limb and may impact running performance. Causes of asymmetry may include strength imbalances between limbs, differences in limb length or range of motion of one limb. The aim of this project is to investigate the relationship between step characteristic asymmetry and asymmetry of limb strength, length and range of motion to determine whether a cause of asymmetry can be determined. The project will involve collection of kinematic data during running to calculate step characteristics and both kinematic and kinetic data during screening tests to assess for asymmetry of other variables.

Key research paper / chapter to read to understand the area further:

Talent identification and development in sports officials

Supervisor: Dr Tom Webb

The identification and development of match officials in sport has never been more important. The retention of match officials is a significant consideration for governing bodies as the issues regarding the factors which cause drop out become more clear. Abuse, lack of accessible support networks and time constraints all impact on the decisions of match officials on whether to continue in their chosen sport. These projects would examine the training of match officials in order to prepare them for the different aspects and levels of performance (grassroots, children, adults and performance environments for example), the potential benefits of a wider development pathway and the importance of sampling or non specification of sports until the later teenage years. This would involve officiating across different sports in order to accelerate development skills in areas such as nonverbal behaviour and interpersonal skills in different environmental settings.

Exercise testing and training in individuals with chronic disease

Supervisor: Dr Zoe Saynor and Dr Anthony Shepherd

We would be happy for individuals to join the Clinical Health and Rehabilitation Team (CHaRT). Research will focus on exercise testing and training in individuals with chronic health conditions. We have current programmes of research running in the following groups which span both paediatric and adult care: cystic fibrosis (CF), non-CF bronchiectasis, asthma, diabetes, Raynaud’s, joint hypermobility, arthritis, chronic kidney disease. There are also opportunities for those who may be interesting in physical activity and exercise interventions to improve the health of children and adolescents.

Development of a method to measure 'bump bounce' in pregnant women during exercise

Supervisor: Dr Jenny Burbage

The importance of women exercising during pregnancy is widely promoted, however little research has been conducted to investigate the effect of pregnancy on an exercising females’ biomechanics. By utilising established methodology for the calculation of breast biomechanics, this project aims to develop methodologies for the calculation of ‘bump bounce’. Once a method is established, further research can be conducted to understand the effect of different sports garments on the reduction of ‘bump bounce’ during running and the subsequent impact on lower back muscle activity and pain.

Other Research Projects

Find out more about current research projects in science and health:

Please note, this list is not exhaustive and you'll need to meet and discuss the project you're interested in with a member of research staff before you apply.