The Applied Biomechanics Research Theme, established in 2021, is an emerging area of research excellence within the University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise. It is home to a growing group of researchers who use state of the art biomechanical methodologies and techniques to better understand human movement and performance.
The Applied Biomechanics Research Theme is primarily focused on five areas:
- Lower Limb Biomechanics
- Cricket Biomechanics
- Breast Biomechanics
- Equipment & Apparel Fit and Function
- Neuromuscular Responses to Exercise
We are actively recruiting for students and collaborators with an interest in these research areas.
Associate Professor Wayne Spratford
Professor Nick Brown
Assistant Professor Celeste Coltman
Associate Professor Nick Ball
Associate Professor Clinical Phillip Newman
Thesis title: Running mechanics, economy and performance in distance runners
Supervisors: Associate Professor Wayne Spratford, Professor Nick Brown, Dr Jason Bonacci
Thesis title: ACL Injury Mechanisms
Supervisors: Associate Professor Wayne Spratford, Associate Professor Nick Ball, Associate Professor Phil Newman
Thesis title: Cricket swing bowling
Supervisors: Associate Professor Wayne Spratford, Dr Kane Middleton
Thesis title: Foot function during walking and running
Supervisors: Professor Nick Brown, Associate Professor Wayne Spratford, Dr Luke Kelly, Jaqi Bousie
Thesis title: Foot function during landing
Supervisors: Associate Professor Wayne Spratford, Professor Nick Brown, Associate Professor Phil Newman
Thesis title: Cricket fast bowling
Supervisors: Associate Professor Wayne Spratford, Assistant Professor Celeste Coltman, Dr Marc Portus
Thesis title: Neck Pain in Fast Jet Pilots
Supervisors: Associate Professor Phil Newman, Associate Professor Wayne Spratford, Dr Peter Osmotherly, Dr Tim Gabbett
Thesis Title: Cricket Fast Bowling Performance
Supervisors: Associate Professor Disa Pryor, Associate Professor Wayne Spratford, Dr Maryam Ghahramani and Mr Billy Mason
Thesis title: Gluteal tendon tears and surgical repair
Supervisors: Associate Professor Angie Fearon Professor Nick Brown, Professor Bill Vicenzino, Dr Alison Grimaldi
Thesis title: Evaluating Female Body Armour
Supervisors: Assistant Professor Celeste Coltman, Associate Professor Wayne Spratford, Professor Nick Brown
Thesis title: Breast biomechanics during running
Supervisors: Assistant Professor Celeste Coltman, Associate Professor Wayne Spratford, Professor Nick Brown, Associate Professor Izzy Moore
Taking the guesswork out of managing training load in gymnastics – using inertial measurement units to develop a load catalogue for men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics
The dynamic architecture of the hamstring complex: An investigation into its influence on injury and performance
Understanding the time course effects of neuromuscular fatigue from anaerobic exercise: Implications for periodisation and performance
The Optimal Load to Maximise System Power During a Countermovement Jump
Role of Stiffness in ACL injury mechanisms
Measurement of function in an ecological study of autograft (2ST/2GR) and synthetic (LARS) ACL reconstruction.
Resistive Forces and Technique Analysis in Elite Sprint Front Crawl Swimming
Master of Research graduates
Physiological profile and variability of jump kinetics in national level female basketball players
Exercise Regulation (Pacing) in Strength Training
Dynamic Postural Stability Testing of Elite Ski and Snowboard Athletes.
Undergraduate Honours graduates
Ankle range of motion and hip biomechanics during high-speed running in sub-elite male rugby union players - 2nd Class Division 1
Swing bowling in cricket – 1st Class
Achilles tendon load in Irish Dancers – 1st Class
Augmented reality or Traditional Laboratory Based Assessments? Measuring patellar tendon load in elite male volleyball players – 1st Class
Development of biomechanical models of the cervical spine muscle-tendon loads for aircrew wearing helmets with night vision equipment – 1st Class
Can orthoses help gluteal tendinopathy in females – 1st Class
Does dynamic tape alter gait and reduce pain in women with greater trochanteric pain syndrome? A double-blind randomised controlled trial – 1st Class Honours
Biomechanics of general play kicking in elite rugby union – 2nd Class
Melissa Vy Vu
Influence of fixed ankle firefighting boots on lower body and lumbar kinematics and kinetics – 2nd Class
Lower limb biomechanics
Foot and ankle energetics
The majority of biomechanical modelling, both at the joint and muscle level has been conducted treating the foot as a rigid segment. Here at UC, we have an interest and focus in developing a more comprehensive model of the human foot that allows us to understand the role of the musculature in human movement both at the foot and the lower body.
Knee and hip load
We currently have research students investigating the relationship of the ankle to anterior cruciate ligament injuries as well as the foot to patellar tendon loads during landing tasks. We have also conducted large randomised control studies quantifying the loads at the hip for sufferers of greater trochanteric pain syndrome and aim to attract funding moving forward in this area.
Our lab uses 3D modelling of human movement to quantify load in sport, with a particularly focus on cricket biomechanics. With strong links to the Australian Institute of Sport and Cricket Australia, we currently have four cricket-based PhD’s in the area of spin bowling, swing bowling, joint stiffness and fatigue. We are interested in conducting research in all areas of cricket.
Excessive breast motion from an incorrectly fitting or unsupportive bra is a known barrier to women’s participation in physical activity and exercise. Given the known benefits of regular participation in activity, it is essential for women, irrespective of breast size to engage in physical activity for their health. Unfortunately, our research shows that as breast size increases, participation in physical activity declines. In order to remove barriers to women’s participation in physical activity, our research focuses on better understanding the mechanisms associated with breast size, shape and location on women’s movement ability. Our research is used to inform improvements to bra design, bra fit and breast support for women across the breast size spectrum.
Equipment & apparel fit and function
A range of sports and occupational domains require the use of specialised equipment (including personal protective equipment (PPE)) and/or apparel for participants and workers. However, females have been underrepresented in equipment design and most of the available PPE for both sporting and occupational setting has been designed for males. Given females differ substantially in anthropometric body dimensions, there is a need to ensure that equipment and apparel fits the end user in order to enhance comfort, mobility and functional performance. Our research focuses on improving fit form and function of a range of equipment and apparel, including sports bras and body armour systems.
Neuromuscular responses to exercise
Training forms a cornerstone of numerous athlete’s preparation strategies in order to improve their performance and reduce their risk of injury. Core training modalities to improve performance relate to strength, power, speed, agility. Whilst injury prevention is based on adaptation to the aforementioned strategies, in addition we must understand causes and mechanisms of injury. Understanding the responses to exercises at a joint and muscle level will aid practitioners in exercise selection for the purpose of training for athletic development and injury reduction. This theme has three primary foci:
- To better understand the underpinning neuromuscular responses and adaptations to exercises, to best inform practitioners i.e. strength and conditioning coaches, in their exercise choices.
- To explore the interaction between joints in exercises and high-intensity movements to enhance training transfer.
- To further our knowledge on in ACL injury mechanisms and the role that joint interaction plays.
Since 2017 UC has been working in collaboration with the Institute of Aviation Medicine, Royal Australian Airforce, and Human Performance and Safety (RAAF) to prevent and optimise management of neck pain in aircrew. A NATO research panel invited UC to develop a workload monitoring system for fast jet pilots who experience high G-force in heavy helmets to scan the skies around them. The team at UC has incorporated biomechanical modelling and machine learning approaches to characterise head motions and quickly calculate neck force in real time. The next plans include extending this system to helicopter pilots and loadmasters. We are excited by the commercial opportunities this has provided, and the international interest generated. We see further potential in other contexts where helmets, head motion and external forces load the spine.
UCRISE and the Applied Biomechanics research theme has a dedicated research facility equipped with state-of-the-art biomechanical measurement systems. These systems enable us to accurately measure human motion in both the laboratory and field-based environments. Equipment in the laboratory includes:
- Vicon motion capture system to accurately capture three-dimensional movement of the body in motion during sport, activities of daily living and recreation.
- AMTI force platforms (400 x 600 mm) to quantify the three orthogonal components of the forces generated at foot ground contact during activities such as landing.
- Treadmetrix Instrumented treadmill to quantify the three orthogonal components of the forces generated at foot ground contact during running.
- Delsys Trigno 16 channel EMG system to measure muscle activation patterns and intensity during dynamic movements.
- IMU inertial sensors for measurement of body segment accelerations and rotations during field based sport and activity.
- Ultrasound system for imaging internal anatomical structures, such as muscles and muscle fascicles.
- Novel Pliance system to measure the pressures generated at the skin surface under various objects, such as bra straps and backpack straps, as well as between a cricket ball and fingers.
- Infoot 3D foot scanner to quantify the three-dimensional shape of an individual’s foot.
- Artec Leo 3D scanner to quantify the three-dimensional shape of anatomical structures such as the breast.
- 4 Gymaware Linear Encoders to measure displacement and velocity i.e in countermovement jumps and barbell-based exercises.
- Fusion Sport Jump Mat – to measure ground reaction time and subsequent variables such as RSI
- Isometric Mid-Thigh Pull – Kistler force plates and a fixed bar system (FitTechh) allow the calculation of peak force and RFD in this gold standard test measure
UCRISE also houses several other items for assessing and musculoskeletal structure and function such as anthropometers, calipers, goniometers, digital still cameras, and a variety of force transducers. We also use Telemed Ultrasound System, Vicon Nexus software, BodyBuilder, MatLab, Novel software, STEP software and Artec CAD software for data collection and analysis.
Associate Professor Wayne Spratford
Professor Nick Brown
Assistant Professor Celeste Coltman
Associate Professor Nick Ball
National Biomechanics Day was founded by former American Society of Biomechanics President Paul De Vita and was first held in 2016. The goal of National Biomechanics Day is 'to advance biomechanics science and education by increasing the awareness and appreciation of biomechanics among the high school community around the world'. More details can be found at the official National Biomechanics Day page here: http://thebiomechanicsinitiative.org/.
By inviting local high school students to a nearby biomechanics laboratory, these students can experience and become aware of the field of biomechanics, helping to introduce future biomechanists to their future careers. The UCRISE Applied Biomechanics Theme is proud to host a National Biomechanics Day Annually. For inquiries about National Biomechanics Day, contact Celeste Coltman (Celeste.Coltman@Canberra.edu.au).