Increasing activity and fitness levels across the general population is key to combatting the challenges associated with obesity and an ageing population. Swimming is considered to be beneficial as it offers a non weight-bearing, full-body form of cardiovascular exercise. These benefits might be offset, however, by an increased risk of shoulder injury, a common occurrence within the sport.
This project aims to investigate the mechanisms of shoulder injury through understanding how the hydrodynamic forces acting on a swimmer’s arm are supported by the musculoskeletal structure.
This project is fundamentally interdisciplinary requiring in-depth analysis of both complex fluid dynamics, biomechanics and intricate musculoskeletal systems within the body. The mechanisms of shoulder injury can be investigated through the use of a musculoskeletal model to simulate muscle response and joint loadings in different conditions. However this approach requires accurate stroke kinematics and hydrodynamic forces both of which are extremely challenging to measure in aquatic sports such as swimming.
The study will involve acquiring detailed underwater swimming stroke kinematics and the use of advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics to simulate the pressure distribution over the arm. Different optical techniques will be utilised to assess the soft tissue deformations caused by fluid loading and muscle contraction during various tasks. Ultimately this information will be used to predict internal forces in the upper limb during swimming and elucidate on possible mechanisms of shoulder injury.
We are looking for applicants with a strong background in engineering, mathematics or physics, with an interest in sports and biomechanics. A fully funded 3 year studentship is available for UK/EU students, with the stipend at the standard RCUK rate (currently £14500 tax free). Candidates must apply for the ‘PhD in Engineering and the Environment ( Full Time)’ program via the University application procedure using the following link: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/courses/how-to-apply/postgraduate-applications.page. The correct application link can be found by searching for a full time research program in 2017-2018 with the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment.
This project is supported by both British Swimming and the English Institute of Sport providing a wealth of expertise, support and access to world class biomechanists and coaches. This research will build on the previous experience and success of Southampton’s Performance Sport Engineering Lab and their support of British swimming in both the London and Rio Olympic games.