• Centre for Applied Sport and Exercise Sciences (CASES)

    sports lab

The Centre for Applied Sport and Exercise Sciences (CASES) was established over ten years ago to unite teaching and research relating to sport and exercise sciences at UCLan. Our research has evolved from the passions of the staff within the centre and our reputation has grown from a local to an international level. We work with researchers, clinicians, clubs and athletes from around the world to advance knowledge and understanding in sport and exercise science that will ultimately benefit practice. All of the staff in CASES are involved in teaching and research and as such the students gain an enhanced learning experience.

CASES incorporates Research and Consultancy in Equine Surfaces (RACES), a collaboration between UCLan, Myerscough and Nottingham Trent University that was initially developed to further our knowledge and understanding of equestrian surfaces. The team work with international surface specialists to provide scientific methods of measuring surfaces. RACES work at UCLan also includes research on the horse and rider, which often involves working with notable vets, scientists and practitioners. Our main goal is always to advance knowledge and understanding that will benefit horse health and welfare.

Expertise and subject areas

CASES areas of expertise include:

Response to training/exercise

Our research tends to focus on the effect of non-traditional training techniques on physiological development, fundamental skills development and performance. This includes studies investigating multi-joint training, high intensity interval training, multi-sport training and integrated neuromuscular training.

Technological advancements

Technological developments in sport may enhance performance or reduce injury risk. Examples of our research include; the effect of wheel size and front suspension on performance in downhill mountain biking and developments in ankle protection to reduce ankle inversion injuries in football.

Performance nutrition

Nutritional supplementation in a sporting context is often used to enhance performance, but can also be used for pain management. Our work includes investigating the effects of caffeine supplementation on cycling performance and we are currently testing tart cherry juice as a supplement for athletes with knee pain.

Recovery

Performance and physiological measures of how the body recovers following stress. This stress could be from exercise, damage, temperature and changed nutritional requirements. Our work involves mechanistic investigations utilising biochemical and molecular techniques to offer explanation of the physiological changes and the impact of recovery strategies.

Musculoskeletal modelling

Our research is primarily focussed on the development of models to measure external function and internal loads and/or stress on the body with applications in clinical and performance based research.

Psychological development

Areas of interest include psychosocial factors of coaching on performance development, the impact of organizational culture on youth athlete development and mental health awareness in sport.

Monitoring athlete wellness

The focus of this research is on monitoring the health and wellness of elite and non-athlete in the context of exercise performance. This includes identifying and reducing concussion risks and cognitive function in cycling and rugby league and the evaluation training and recovery strategies to ensure optimal performance and wellbeing.

Clinical exercise physiology and health related outcomes

Primarily focussed on improving patient care, we work with individuals who have suffered a major cardiac event. This includes investigating the optimum modes of exercise for health benefits such as resistance and aerobic training, as well evaluating exercise dose to ensure sufficient stimulus is prescribed to promote physiological adaptions within cardiac rehabilitation.

RACES areas of expertise include:

Muscle activity

We are working towards the development of standardised methods of detecting, processing and analysing surface electromyography (sEMG) data to measure muscle activity in horses. We have combined our sEMG methods with motion capture technologies to investigate how equine muscles facilitate various gaits/ movements, including jumping. In collaboration with Utrecht University, we are currently investigating adaptive muscle activity as a compensatory mechanism in lame horses.

Surfaces

Our research on surfaces is well established and includes the development of equipment and protocols for measuring equestrian surfaces and the evaluation of factors that influence surface functional properties.

Hoof structure and function

Our research in this area currently includes the evaluation of factors that influence hoof shape, which was carried out with Dr Simon Curtis primarily on Thoroughbred foals. We have also investigated the functional consequences of uneven feet in sports horses.

Locomotion

Collaborating with Prof Hilary Clayton over more than a decade we have developed a biomechanical model to measure balance during locomotion. This has allowed us to evaluate of the demands of performing high level movements in dressage horses. We are currently concerned with developing a better understanding of the functional demands for sport horses.

Para-dressage

Commissioned by the Federation Equestré Internationale (FEI) we are currently working on developing performance determinants and identifying sports specific impairment measures, so that we can evaluate the impact of impairment on performance in para-dressage. This research will be used to inform and evidence the para-dressage classification system.

Impact

The application of CASES research has benefitted athletes and clubs nationally and internationally. These include Chester football club, Sunderland A.F.C., Wycombe Wanderers, Watford, Wigan Athletic, Newcastle Falcons, Wasps and Wigan Warriors in relation to fitness monitoring and development of enhanced training programmes.

We have supported Team Wiggins, Madison-Genesis, JLT Condor, British Cycling, the Swedish National and Olympic MTB Squads (at the London 2012 Olympics) and Cycling Ireland BMX team (at the Rio 2016 Olympics).

We have provided nutritional and coaching support to range of elite endurance athletes, coached European & World Ironman/Olympic distance triathlon medallists and lead the strength and conditioning/sports science coaching for the Goalball GB squads at London 2012 Olympics.

Our clinical research is used to enhance patient care across numerous NHS Foundation Trusts including the Countess of Chester and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals. The research also enhances patient care in the local community with trials ongoing, in collaboration with Heartbeat, a Lancashire based charity who provide care and rehabilitation programmes in the North West.

Our RACES research provides an impact case study for REF2021 in enhancing horse health, welfare and performance. We led the development of the FEI Equine Surfaces White Paper, and later developed protocols for testing arena surfaces for the FEI that have been used at Olympic and World Equestrian Games since Rio 2016. 

Publications and outputs

Please see staff pages for current publications.

Staff

CASES/RACES Lead

Sport and Exercise Science

Strength and Conditioning

Nutrition and Exercise Science

Equine Science

 

Related research groups

The CASES team work closely with colleagues in both the Allied Health Research Unit and the International Institute of Nutritional Sciences and Applied Food Safety Studies (IINSAFSS). In addition to teaching and research, the CASES team are all involved in providing SENS consultancy service, which can inform clients of their current physiological status using measures related to performance, nutrition and health.

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