Biomechanics Research Group

Making positive changes to people's lives

We are working towards excellence in fundamental research, leading to applications in clinical and sport and exercise biomechanics through collaboration locally, nationally and internationally.

Our research makes positive changes to the lives of people of all ages and physical abilities. Our multidisciplinary approach means that when you work with us you will be supported by specially selected expert academics within the field. The University provides a comprehensive internal and external research network including the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Research Institute, the Department of Applied Mathematics and the Department of Computer Science to name a few.

Our expertise

Our research falls under the following categories which are summarised below:

  • Stair negotiation
  • Musculo-skeletal growth and development
  • Musculo-skeletal adaptations to chronic use, disuse, disease and ageing
  • Virtual rehabilitation
  • Virtual Mirror Box
  • Clinical gait analysis in alkaptonuria
  • Artificial neural networks
  • Footwear biomechanics
  • Joint loading
  • Postural stability
  • Advanced statistics in biomechanics

Stair negotiation

This research area focuses on the prevention of falls. One of the greatest daily challenges for frail populations such as older people and people with musculoskeletal and neuromuscular pathologies is to negotiate steps and stairs, and this is where falls and accidents occur most frequently.

Important questions that this research aims to address include:

Can we predict a fall on stairs?

Is the ability to recover a safe stance after a perturbation while standing indicative of a reduced risk for a fall due to a trip or slip?

Which preventative measures are more effective and pragmatic for making stair negotiation safer? To improve the environment, eg, stair-design? To improve the user’s capabilities, eg, balance? To adopt certain behavioural changes when negotiating steps, eg, going up or down a staircase at a slower speed holding on to the handrails?

A unique custom-made staircase with adjustable dimensions in each step, instrumented with force sensors in the steps and the handrails, is available at the RISES for studying the biomechanics of stair and step negotiation. Collaborations with the Brain & Behaviour group within the RISES, with the LJMU School of Nursing and Allied Health, and with the Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies (BEST) Research Institute at LJMU, have recently been developed, leading to a new multidisciplinary cross-faculty group group named Research to Improve Stair Climbing Safety (RISCS) group. The focus of RISCS is to investigate and document the nature of the factors compromising stair safety and develop effective tools/interventions to detect stair fall risk and prevent stair falls.  Various aspects impacting fall prevention are currently being investigated, for example the role of eye-gaze, vision and physical characteristics of stairs for user safety, and the development of community-based tools for stair falls risk assessment. The RISCS group is supported by PhD students and research intrens, by internal and external funding,  and importantly also by various external partners and end-users pivotal for impact and policy-making and translation/implementation of our research , including the Building Research Establishment, the formal body that issues building regulations, the Liverpool Housing Trust, AgeUK Cheshire, the Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust, and the Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Primary contact: Prof Dr Costis Maganaris

Selected publications

Brown SJ, Handsaker JC, Maganaris CN, Bowling FL, Boulton AJ, Reeves ND., 2016. Altered joint moment strategy during stair walking in diabetes patients with and without peripheral neuropathy. Gait Posture 46:188-93. doi>

Handsaker JC, Brown SJ, Bowling FL, Maganaris CN, Boulton AJ, Reeves ND., 2016. Resistance exercise training increases lower limb speed of strength generation during stair ascent and descent in people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Diabet Med 33(1):97-104. doi>

Handsaker JC, Brown SJ, Bowling FL, Cooper G, Maganaris CN, Boulton AJ, Reeves ND., 2014. Contributory factors to unsteadiness during walking up and down stairs in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes Care ;37(11):3047-53. doi>

Alcock L, O'Brien TD, Vanicek N., 2014. Biomechanical demands differentiate transitioning vs. continuous stair ascent gait in older women. Clinical Biomechanics 29 111–118. doi>

Foster RJ, De Asha AR, Reeves ND, Maganaris CN, Buckley JG., 2014. Stair-specific algorithms for identification of touch-down and foot-off when descending or ascending a non-instrumented staircase. Gait Posture 39 (2): 816-21. doi>

Telonio A, Blanchet S, Maganaris CN, Baltzopoulos V, Villeneuve S, McFadyen BJ., 2014. The division of visual attention affects the transition point from level walking to stair descent in healthy, active older adults. Exp Gerontol 50:26-33. doi>

Telonio A, Blanchet S, Maganaris CN, Baltzopoulos V, McFadyen BJ., 2013. The detailed measurement of foot clearance by young adults during stair descent. J Biomech 46(7):1400-2. doi>

Buckley JG, Cooper G, Maganaris CN, Reeves ND., 2013. Is stair descent in the elderly associated with periods of high centre of mass downward accelerations? Exp Gerontol 48(2):283-9. doi>

Spanjaard M, Reeves ND, van Dieën JH, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN., 2008. Lower-limb biomechanics during stair descent: influence of step-height and body mass. J Exp Biol. 211(Pt 9):1368-75. doi>

Reeves ND, Spanjaard M, Mohagheghi AA, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN., 2008. Influence of light handrail use on the biomechanics of stair negotiation in old age. Gait Posture 28(2):327-36. doi>

Spanjaard M, Reeves ND, van Dieën JH, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN., 2008. Influence of step-height and body mass on gastrocnemius muscle fascicle behavior during stair ascent. J Biomech 41(5):937-44. doi>

Reeves ND, Spanjaard M, Mohagheghi AA, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN., 2009. Older adults employ alternative strategies to operate within their maximum capabilities when ascending stairs. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 19(2):e57-68.

Spanjaard M, Reeves ND, van Dieën JH, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN., 2009. Influence of gait velocity on gastrocnemius muscle fascicle behaviour during stair negotiation. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 19(2):304-13.

Loram ID, Maganaris CN, Lakie M., 2007. The passive, human calf muscles in relation to standing: the non-linear decrease from short range to long range stiffness. J Physiol 584(Pt 2):661-75.

Loram ID, Maganaris CN, Lakie M., 2007. The passive, human calf muscles in relation to standing: the short range stiffness lies in the contractile component. J Physiol 584(Pt 2):677-92.

Reeves ND, Spanjaard M, Mohagheghi AA, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN., 2008. The demands of stair descent relative to maximum capacities in elderly and young adults. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 18(2):218-27.

Pijnappels M, Reeves ND, Maganaris CN, van Dieën JH., 2008. Tripping without falling; lower limb strength, a limitation for balance recovery and a target for training in the elderly. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 18(2):188-96.

Spanjaard M, Reeves ND, van Dieën JH, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN., 2007. Gastrocnemius muscle fascicle behavior during stair negotiation in humans. J Appl Physiol 102(4):1618-23.

Musculo-skeletal growth and development

In this research area, biomechanical and neurophysiological investigations are being carried out to identify the biological processes of maturation that explain the growth-associated improvements in muscle and athletic performance.

Adults are faster, stronger and more powerful than children. Adults also demonstrate different responses to maximal exercise and resistance training. Typically, scientists and paediatricians have tried to explain these performance differences using body size, but this approach has failed to fully account for the developmental changes observed. Our research quantifies muscle structure, intrinsic contractile properties, neural activation patterns, tendon properties and joint leverage to explain the underlying causes of maturation-induced performance improvements. This provides insight into the biological processes of maturation and also provides reference data for our clinical studies.

Primary contact: Dr Tom O’Brien

Selected publications:

Barbara M. Kalkman, Lynn Bar-On, Francesco Cenni, Constantinos N. Maganaris, Alfie Bass, Gill Holmes, Kaat Desloovere, Gabor J. Barton, Thomas D. O’Brien., 2017. Achilles tendon moment arm length is smaller in children with cerebral palsy than in typically developing children. J Biomech. (In press).

Constantinos N. MaganarisPanagiotis ChatzistergosNeil D. Reeves and Marco V. Narici (2017). Quantification of Internal Stress-Strain Fields in Human Tendon: Unraveling the Mechanisms that Underlie Regional Tendon Adaptations and Mal-Adaptations to Mechanical Loading and the Effectiveness of Therapeutic Eccentric Exercise. Front. Physiol. doi>

Narici M, Franchi M, Maganaris CN. 2016. Muscle structural assembly and functional consequences. J Exp Biol. 2016 Jan;219(Pt 2):276-84. doi>

Franchi MV, Atherton PJ, Maganaris CN, Narici MV. 2016. Fascicle length does increase in response to longitudinal resistance training and in a contraction-mode specific manner. Springerplus 28;5:94. doi>

Margaritelis NV, Theodorou AA, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN, Paschalis V, Kyparos A, Nikolaidis MG. 2015. Muscle damage and inflammation after eccentric exercise: can the repeated bout effect be removed? Physiol Rep 3(12). pii: e12648. doi>

O'Brien TD, Reeves ND, Baltzopoulos V, Jones DA and Maganaris CN, 2012. Invited commentary on Child-Adult Differences in Muscle Activation—A Review. Pediatr Exerc Sci 24, 22-25.

O'Brien TD, Reeves ND, Baltzopoulos V, Jones DA and Maganaris CN, 2011. Commentaries on Viewpoint: Quantification of human muscle specific tension in vivo: A methodologically challenging and sometimes impossible exercise. J Appl Physiol 110(6), 1750-3.

O'Brien TD, Reeves ND, Baltzopoulos V, Jones DA and Maganaris CN, 2010. Differences in muscle-tendon structure and dimensions between adults and children. J Anat 216(5), 631-42. doi>

O'Brien TD, Reeves ND, Baltzopoulos V, Jones DA and Maganaris CN, 2010. In vivo measurements of muscle specific tension in adults and children. Exp Physiol 95(1), 202-10; Winner of the 2010 Early Career Author’s Prize. doi>

O'Brien TD, Reeves ND, Baltzopoulos V, Jones DA and Maganaris CN, 2009. Mechanical properties of the patellar tendon in adults and children. J Biomech 43(6), 1190-5. doi>

O'Brien TD, Reeves ND, Baltzopoulos V, Jones DA and Maganaris CN, 2009. The effects of agonist and antagonist muscle activation on the knee extension moment - angle relationship in adults and children. Eur J Appl Physiol 106(6), 849-56. doi>

O'Brien TD, Reeves ND, Baltzopoulos V, Jones DA and Maganaris CN, 2009. Moment arms at the knee extensor mechanism in children and adults. J Anat 215, 198-205. doi>

O'Brien TD, Reeves ND, Baltzopoulos V, Jones DA and Maganaris CN (2009). Strong relationships exist between muscle volume, joint power and whole-body external mechanical power in adults and children. Exp Physiol 94(6), 731-8. doi>

Musculo-skeletal adaptations to chronic use, disuse, disease and ageing

The main focus of this research area is the study of the alterations that human muscles, tendons and joints undergo in response to conditions of:

  1. Increased chronic use, eg, exercise training and rehabilitation
  2. Chronic disuse, eg, immobilization, after a spinal cord injury and during a space flight
  3. Pathologies and disorders that affect the neuromuscular system, such as cerebral palsy, peripheral arterial disease and diabetes
  4. Biological maturation and ageing

Muscles, tendons and joints are being studied in vivo, using non-invasive scanning techniques such as ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to establish structural adaptation and their functional consequences. These studies enhance our knowledge on the biomechanical factors involved in the transmission of contractile forces to the skeleton to produce movement and provide crucial information as to how we can best intervene to ameliorate deteriorations in musculoskeletal structure and function and improve athletic performance.

Ultrasound scanners dedicated for in vivo muscle and tendon research are available at the RISES and links with other institutes exist for accessing MRI and fluoroscopy scanning facilities and the study of joint structure and function.

Primary contact: Prof Dr Costis Maganaris

Selected publications:

Rittweger J, Reeves ND, Narici MV, Belavý DL, Maganaris CN, Maffulli N., 2011. Persisting side-to-side differences in bone mineral content, but not in muscle strength and tendon stiffness after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Clin Physiol Funct Imaging 31(1):73-9. doi>

Seynnes OR, Erskine RM, Maganaris CN, Longo S, Simoneau EM, Grosset JF, Narici MV., 2009. Training-induced changes in structural and mechanical properties of the patellar tendon are related to muscle hypertrophy but not to strength gains. J Appl Physiol 107(2):523-30. doi>

Atkinson RA, Srinivas-Shankar U, Roberts SA, Connolly MJ, Adams JE, Oldham JA, Wu FC, Seynnes OR, Stewart CE, Maganaris CN, Narici MV., 2010. Effects of testosterone on skeletal muscle architecture in intermediate-frail and frail elderly men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 65(11):1215-9. doi>

Reeves ND, Maganaris CN, Maffulli N, Rittweger J., 2009. Human patellar tendon stiffness is restored following graft harvest for anterior cruciate ligament surgery. J Biomech 42(7):797-803. doi>

Onambélé GL, Maganaris CN, Mian OS, Tam E, Rejc E, McEwan IM, Narici MV., 2008. Neuromuscular and balance responses to flywheel inertial versus weight training in older persons. J Biomech 41(15):3133-8. doi>

Seynnes OR, Maffiuletti NA, Maganaris CN, de Boer MD, Pensini M, di Prampero PE, Narici MV., 2008. Soleus T reflex modulation in response to spinal and tendinous adaptations to unilateral lower limb suspension in humans. Acta Physiol 194(3):239-51. doi>

Seynnes OR, Maganaris CN, de Boer MD, di Prampero PE, Narici MV., 2008. Early structural adaptations to unloading in the human calf muscles. Acta Physiol 193(3):265-74. doi>

Mohagheghi AA, Khan T, Meadows TH, Giannikas K, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN., 2008. In vivo gastrocnemius muscle fascicle length in children with and without diplegic cerebral palsy. Dev Med Child Neurol 50(1):44-50. doi>

Morse CI, Degens H, Seynnes OR, Maganaris CN, Jones DA., 2008. The acute effect of stretching on the passive stiffness of the human gastrocnemius muscle tendon unit. J Physiol 586(1):97-106.

Giannikas KA, Bayam L, Naraen A, Buckley J, Maganaris C, Wilkes RA, Hutchinson CE., 2007. Cross-sectional anatomy in postdistraction osteogenesis tibia. J Orthop Sci 12(5):430-6.

de Boer MD, Selby A, Atherton P, Smith K, Seynnes OR, Maganaris CN, Maffulli N, Movin T, Narici MV, Rennie MJ., 2007. The temporal responses of protein synthesis, gene expression and cell signalling in human quadriceps muscle and patellar tendon to disuse. J Physiol 585(Pt 1):241-51.

de Boer MD, Maganaris CN, Seynnes OR, Rennie MJ, Narici MV., 2007. Time course of muscular, neural and tendinous adaptations to 23 day unilateral lower-limb suspension in young men. J Physiol 583(Pt 3):1079-91.

Narici MV, Maganaris CN., 2007. Plasticity of the muscle-tendon complex with disuse and aging. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 35(3):126-34.

Mohagheghi AA, Khan T, Meadows TH, Giannikas K, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN., 2007. Differences in gastrocnemius muscle architecture between the paretic and non-paretic legs in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Clin Biomech 22(6):718-24.

Onambélé GL, Narici MV, Rejc E, Maganaris CN., 2007. Contribution of calf muscle-tendon properties to single-leg stance ability in the absence of visual feedback in relation to ageing. Gait Posture 26(3):343-8.

Maganaris CN, Reeves ND, Rittweger J, Sargeant AJ, Jones DA, Gerrits K, De Haan A., 2006. Adaptive response of human tendon to paralysis. Muscle Nerve 33(1):85-92.

Gerrits KH, Maganaris CN, Reeves ND, Sargeant AJ, Jones DA, de Haan A., 2005. Influence of knee joint angle on muscle properties of paralyzed and nonparalyzed human knee extensors. Muscle Nerve 32(1):73-80.

Reeves ND, Maganaris CN, Ferretti G, Narici MV. 2005. Influence of 90-day simulated microgravity on human tendon mechanical properties and the effect of resistive countermeasures. J Appl Physiol 98(6):2278-86.

Virtual rehabilitation

This area of work focuses on the rehabilitation of movement function in clinical populations such as cerebral palsy. Examples of ongoing research are the training and testing of core control using virtual reality games and the development and application of Virtual Mirror Box methods.

Training and testing core control using virtual reality games:



Our multi-disciplinary research team has developed custom made computer games focusing on movement co-ordination of the trunk and pelvis, known as the core of the body. In a recent pilot study, a group of children with cerebral palsy were recruited through Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and over six weeks they played variants of the Goblin Post Office game on the first CAREN virtual reality system in the UK. In order to understand how their movement skills changed in response to the games training their walking style was tested using clinical gait analysis, and a detailed analysis was made of movement performance recorded while playing the games.

Goblin game

The findings of our research have been presented at national and international scientific conferences, and disseminated to physiotherapists in research seminars and postgraduate training programmes. We continue to analyse and publish the results of our research in peer reviewed scientific journals. The novelty and potentially high impact of our research has been recognised by the WellChild Researcher Award 2010.

The next stage of the research took place in schools across Merseyside. In order to make the method available to a larger number of children, a portable prototype of the game has been developed. It was used within a PhD study in schools to train and test children with cerebral palsy, focusing on the core of the body, as well as the ankle, knee, and hip joints. The portable Goblin Post Office is installed at The Movement Centre and BASIC where we are working towards integration of the game in the daily physiotherapy of patients with neuromuscular problems e.g. cerebral palsy.

We aim to improve hand function in scleroderma with our custom developed virtual rehabilitation game, FlappyBird-CAREN, which builds on the addictive power of Flappy Bird, the most downloaded smartphone game in 2013. Initially as a Masters student project and now as an LJMU PhD Scholarship programme we collaborate with Aintree Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Our game is also trialled by Bodybetter Kids Physiotherapy in Stroud.


We can now stream 3D hand movement data from the Leap Motion sensor into the D-Flow software (Motekforce Link) and this opens up the possibility of further smart games aiming at hand function rehabilitation.


Primary contact: Prof. Gabor Barton

Research assistant and then PhD student:

Richard Foster, 2009-2012. Funded by Alder Hey Children’s NHS Trust and LJMU’s Institute for Health Research.

Elena Eusterwiemann, 2016-2019. Funded by LJMU PhD Scholarship scheme.

Selected publications:

Barton GJ, Hawken MB, Foster RJ, Holmes G, Butler PB, 2013. The effects of virtual reality game training on trunk to pelvis coupling in a child with cerebral palsyJournal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation. 10:15. link>

Barton GJ, Hawken MB, Holmes G, Schwartz MH, 2013. A gait index may underestimate changes of gait: a comparison of the Movement Deviation Profile and the Gait Deviation IndexComputer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering. doi>

Virtual Mirror Box

A physical mirror positioned in the mid-sagittal plane can reduce phantom limb pain in amputees and improve movement function in stroke and upper limb control in children with cerebral palsy. A mirror illusion of unimpaired limb movement during gait might enhance the effect, but a physical mirror is only capable of showing parallel movement of limbs in real time while sitting, standing or lying. In this project, funded by LJMU’s Institute of Health Research, we aimed to overcome the limitations of physical mirrors by developing and evaluating a Virtual Mirror Box which delays the mirrored image of limbs during gait.


Primary contact: Prof. Gabor Barton

Selected publications:

Barton JG, De Asha AR, van Loon ECP, Geijtenbeek T, Robinson MA, 2014. Manipulation of visual bio-feedback during gait with a time delayed adaptive Virtual Mirror Box. Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation. 11:101. link>

PhD opportunity: Clinical gait analysis in special populations

Clinical gait analysis in alkaptonuria

We perform clinical gait analysis for all patients in the UK (and eventually the world) who were born with alkaptonuria and so develop early osteoarthritis.

Alkaptonuria is a rare metabolic disease leading to accumulation of homogentisic acid which damages cartilage, heart valves, kidneys, etc. The National Alkaptonuria Centre (NAC), based at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, is monitoring, treating and researching this medical condition. As part of the long term service provided to patients with alkaptonuria in collaboration with the Alkaptonuria Society, clinical gait analysis is performed for patients funded by the NAC. We examine the natural progression of the disease with a focus on changes in movement function due to the special form of osteoarthritis which develops in patients with alkaptonuria. A clinical drug trial of nitisinone is currently under way and an advanced form of gait analysis is used to identify the optimal timing of treatment.

Staff: Prof. Gabor Barton, Dr Mark Robinson

Research assistant: Kimberley Lewin, 2013-2014. Funded by the National Alkaptonuria Centre.

PhD student: Hannah Shepherd, 2017-2020. Match funded by the National Alkaptonuria Centre and LJMU. 

Selected publications:

King SL, Barton GJ, Ranganath LR, 2017. Interpreting sources of variation in clinical gait analysis: a case study. Gait and Posture, 52: 1-4. DOI>

Barton GJ, King SL, Robinson MA, Hawken MB, Ranganath LR, 2015. Age related deviation of gait from normality in alkaptonuria. Invited paper in Special Issue on Alkaptonuria, Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease Reports. 24: 39-44. DOI>

PhD opportunity: Clinical gait analysis in special populations

Artificial neural networks

A set of unique methods to quantify deviation of movement from normality to support clinical decision-making using artificial intelligence. Software tools developed in our project are available as free downloads.

Artificial neural networks

Free download

Characteristics of abnormal gait can be captured by quantifying the three dimensional joint angles, moments and powers of the lower limbs but the complexity of the resultant high dimensional data space makes data interpretation prone to bias. Self-organising neural networks can be used to map complex gait data onto a two dimensional topographic map, thereby improving the efficiency of decision making in clinical gait analysis.

We have developed the Movement Deviation Profile which shows the deviation of an individual’s movement from normality in a single curve and a single number.

Staff: Prof. Gabor Barton, Dr Malcolm Hawken, Dr Mark Robinson

Selected publications:

Barton GJ, Hawken MB, Holmes G, Schwartz MH, 2013. A gait index may underestimate changes of gait: a comparison of the Movement Deviation Profile and the Gait Deviation Index. Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering. doi>

Barton GJ, Hawken MB, Scott M, Schwartz MH, 2010. Movement Deviation Profile: a measure of distance from normality using a self-organizing neural network. Invited paper in Special Issue on Network Approaches in Complex Environments, Human Movement Science. 31: 284-294. link>

Barton GJ, Lees A, Lisboa P, Attfield S, 2007. Gait quality assessment using self-organising artificial neural networks. Gait and Posture. 25/3: 374-379. link>

Barton JG, Lees A, Lisboa P, Attfield S, 2006. Visualisation of gait data with Kohonen self organising neural mapsGait and Posture. 24/1: 46-53. link>

PhD opportunity: The Magic Mirror - showing patients how their normal movements would look like

Footwear biomechanics

One area of research has explored lower limb loading during human locomotion with reference both to sporting and clinical applications. Protective and therapeutic aspects of footwear have been a particular research focus and various commercial projects have been undertaken with footwear and sports surface manufacturers. Techniques have been developed to examine transient, high frequency aspects of lower limb loading and the possible links to specific overuse injury mechanisms. Recently, internal foot and lower leg loading has been estimated using finite element methods.

Primary contact: Dr Mark Lake

Selected publications:

Müller, C., Sterzing, T., Milani, T. L., Lake, M. J., 2010. Different Stud Configurations Cause Movement Adaptations during a Soccer Turning. Footwear Science, 2: 1, 21-28.

Morio, C., Lake, M. J., Guequen, N., Rao, G., Baly, L., 2009. The influence of footwear on foot motion during walking and running. J. Biomechanics , 42, 2081-2088. doi>

Gu Y.D., Li J.S., Ren X.J. and Lake M., 2008. The mechanical response of Achilles tendon during different kinds of sports. Commun. Numer. Meth. Eng, 24: 2077–2085. doi>

Gu Y.D., Li J.S., Lake M., Ren X.J., 2008. Three dimensional finite element analysis of hind foot bones in jumping movements. Journal of Medical Biomechanics, 23(2): 127-130. doi>

Digby, C. J., Lake, M.J. and Lees, A., 2005. High-speed non-invasive measurement of tibial rotation during the impact phase of running. Ergonomics, 48,1623-1637.

Joint loading

In the joint loading group it is our aim to advance the understanding of lower limb joint loading in all types of locomotion through rigorous biomechanical investigation. Our research helps innovate and validate advanced biomechanical techniques, develop and disseminate good research practice in biomechanical investigation, and to ultimately support mechanistic study of lower limb injuries, disorders or diseases, such as ACL injury in sports or osteoarthritis in frail populations.

Our muscles and joints undergo stresses during the activities we do, whether that is walking to the shop, jogging around the park, or rapidly changing direction to avoid the defender during a game of football. These stresses can lead to slow adaptations of the structures around the bones or pose a threat of acute muscle or ligament injury. The research undertaken at LJMU focuses on both, specialising in accurate assessment of those stresses in all types of activity.

A particular area of interest is the application of advanced techniques to measuring joint loading and (in)stability around hip, knee and ankle. We have developed a cluster-based biomechanical model that allows us to investigate lower limb kinematics and kinetics and we continue to undertake extensive validations of this and other models. The use of functional joint axis definitions has been evaluated as well as the use of inverse kinematics solutions.

The in-depth knowledge gained with those advanced techniques is then used to interpret data acquired during standard clinical tests (e.g. single leg hop test) or field-based technologies (e.g. trunk mounted GPS systems). It has also allowed us to build advanced screening tests, which can help assess progress during rehabilitation process or provide a pre-season screening.

Primary contacts: Dr Jos Vanrenterghem and Dr Mark Robinson

Current PhD projects:

Biomechanical and neuromuscular evaluation of knee muscle and ligament injury risk due to mechanical loading during dynamic sports (funded by Malaysian Government) - Raja Mohammed Firhad Bin Raja Azidin

Prevention of hamstring re-injury in professional football (funded by Liverpool FC) - Paulo Barreira

Pitch hardness: The relationship to perceived injury risk, injury prevalence and movement in elite football (funded by Leicester FC) - Dave Rennie

Identification of biomechanical risk factors for knee injury during dynamic activities (funded by Malaysian Government) - Raihana Binti Sharir

Neuromuscular screening for prediction of knee injury during dynamic tasks (funded by Malaysian Government) - Radin Rafeeuddin Bin Radin Dzulfakar

Player load monitoring in dynamic sports (funded by Football Exchange) - Niels Jensby Nedergaard

Selected publications:

Selfe J, Janssen J, Callaghan M, Witvrouw E, Sutton C, Richards J, Stokes M, Martin D, Dixon J, Hogarth R, Baltzopoulos V, Ritchie E, Arden N, Dey P. 2016. Are there three main subgroups within the patellofemoral pain population? A detailed characterisation study of 127 patients to help develop targeted intervention (TIPPs). Br J Sports Med 50(14):873-80. doi>

Callaghan MJ, Guney H, Reeves ND, Bailey D, Doslikova K, Maganaris CN, Hodgson R, Felson DT. 2016. A knee brace alters patella position in patellofemoral osteoarthritis: a study using weight bearing magnetic resonance imaging. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 24(12):2055-2060. doi>

Meireles S, De Groote F, Reeves ND, Verschueren S, Maganaris C, Luyten F, Jonkers I. 2016. Knee contact forces are not altered in early knee osteoarthritis. Gait Posture 45:115-20. doi>

Robinson, M., Tsao, J., Donnely, C.J., Vanrenterghem, J. (In Press) The effect of choosing a direct kinematic or inverse kinematic model on ACL injury risk during side-cutting. Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise.

Malfait, B, Sankey, S, Azidin, R, Deschamps, K, Vanrenterghem, J, Robinson, MA, Staes, FF, Verschueren, SMP, 2013. How reliable are lower limb kinematics and kinetics during drop vertical jump tasks? Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Science, epub. doi>

Verrelst, R, De Clercq, D, Vanrenterghem, J, Willems, T, Palmans, T, Witvrouw, E, 2013. A prospective study on full-body kinematic related risk factors in the development of exertional medial tibial pain. British Journal of Sports

Dingenen, B, Malfait, B, Verschueren, SMP, Staes, FF, Vanrenterghem, J., 2013. The reliability and validity of the measurement of lateral trunk motion in two-dimensional video analysis during unipodal functional screening tests in female athletes. Physical Therapy in Sport, epub. doi>

De Ridder, R, Willems, T, Vanrenterghem, J, Robinson, MA, Pataky, T, Roosen, P., 2013. Gait kinematics of subjects with chronic ankle instability using a multi-segmented foot model. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2129-2136. doi>

Vanrenterghem, J., Venables, E., Pataky, T., Robinson, M. 2012. The effect of running speed on knee mechanical loading in females during side cutting. Journal of Biomechanics, 45, 2444-2449. doi>

Robinson, M., Vanrenterghem, J. 2012. An evaluation of anatomical and functional knee axis definition in the context of side cutting. Journal of Biomechanics, 45, 1941-1946. doi>

Vanrenterghem, J., Gormley, D., Robinson, M., Lees, A. 2010. Solutions for representing the whole-body centre of mass in side cutting manoeuvres based on data that is typically available for lower limb kinematics. Gait and Posture, 31, 517-521. doi>

Postural stability

Maintaining postural stability and overall balance during everyday activities requires a complex control of intersegmental motion based on knowing the musculoskeletal capacity and interpreting various sources of sensory information. The main focus of our work is around the mechanistic aspects of how we are limited in balancing over the available contact points with the floor and the environment. This applies to the understanding of how and when someone is likely to fall, as well as to the understanding of how good balancing abilities can reduce the loading in the knee joint during dynamic sporting tasks.

Postural stability

The focus of our work is on the biomechanical constraints to which balance is tied. These constraints are universal and can be explored across the typical fields of interest. We have investigated this in the context of identifying the risk of falling through observing whether and how individuals can withstand perturbations to the body, and how this might be age dependent. We have looked at the role of whole-body balance during a catching task. We have identified how the musculoskeletal system is able to generate those internal forces that ultimately lead to the corrective movements.

Staff: Dr Jos Vanrenterghem

Current PhD projects:

The role of dynamic stability in the movement execution of highly dynamic tasks (funded by Bolton University) - Sean Sankey

Selected publications:

Sturnieks, D.L., Menant, J., Vanrenterghem, J., Fitzpatrick, R., Rogers, M. Lord, S.R., 2013. Predicting falls in older people from force-controlled balance perturbations. PLOS ONE, in press.

Tijtgat, P., Vanrenterghem, J., Bennett, S., De Clercq D., Savelsbergh, GJP, Lenoir, M., 2013. Postural adjustments in catching : on the interplay between segment stabilization and equilibrium control. Motor Control, Epub ahead of print.

Di Giulio I, Baltzopoulos V, Maganaris CN, Loram ID., 2013. Human standing: does the control strategy preprogram a rigid knee? J Appl Physiol 114,1717-29. doi>

Sturnieks, D.L., Menant, J., Vanrenterghem, J., Delbaere, K., Fitzpatrick, R., Lord, S. 2012. Sensorimotor and neurophysiological correlates of force thresholds for stepping in older adults. Gait and Posture, 36, 356-360. doi>

Tijtgat, P., Vanrenterghem, J., Bennett, S., De Clercq D., Savelsbergh, GJP, Lenoir, M., 2012. Implicit advance knowledge effects on the interplay between arm movements and postural adjustments in catching. Neuroscience Letters, 518, 117-121. doi>

Loram ID, Lakie M, Di Giulio I, Maganaris CN., 2009. The consequences of short-range stiffness and fluctuating muscle activity for proprioception of postural joint rotations: the relevance to human standing. J Neurophysiol 102(1):460-74. doi>

Di Giulio I, Maganaris CN, Baltzopoulos V, Loram ID., 2009. The proprioceptive and agonist roles of gastrocnemius, soleus and tibialis anterior muscles in maintaining human upright posture. J Physiol 587, 2399-416. doi>

Loram ID, Maganaris CN, Lakie M. 2009. Paradoxical muscle movement during postural control. Med Sci Sports Exerc 41,198-204. doi>

Advanced statistics in biomechanics

The development and dissemination of analysis tools ranging from basic data processing for undergraduate students to advanced vector field analysis based on statistical parametric mapping techniques.

Advanced statistics in biomechanics

Vector continuum schematic, depicting a mean two-muscle EMG waveform in blue along with inter-muscle dependence (EMG1-EMG2 covariance) and time-dependence (TIME-EMG smoothness).

Biomechanical data range from discrete 0D scalars to complex 3D vectors (and beyond). Traditional analyses of biomechanical data typically reduces the complexity of the dataset by extracting “key scalars” to analyse with standard statistical analysis techniques. The problem with this approach is that the selection of the “key scalars” is inherently biased unless a hypothesis directly pertained to that key scalar at that instance in time. Our research involves the analysis of n-D biomechanical data using statistical parametric mapping. We use traditional general linear models e.g. t-test, ANOVA, regression to analyse biomechanical data but with the maintenance of time within the analysis fundamentally differentiating it from traditional analyses.

Primary contact: Dr Mark Robinson

Selected publications:

Pataky, T., Robinson M., Vanrenterghem, J., Savage, R., Bates, K., Crompton, R., 2014. Vector field statistics for objective center-of-pressure trajectory analysis, with evidence of scalar sensitivity to small coordinate system rotations. Gait and Posture 40(1):255-8. doi>

Pataky, T., Robinson, M., Vanrenterghem, J., 2013. Vector field statistical analysis of kinematic and force trajectories. Journal of Biomechanics, 46, 2394-2401. doi>

Pataky, T., Vanrenterghem, J. Robinson, M., Parametric and non-parametric confidence intervals and hypothesis tests regarding scalar trajectories. Submitted to Journal of Biomechanics.

De Ridder, R., Willems, T., Vanrenterghem, J., Robinson, M., Pataky, T., Roosen, P., 2013. Gait kinematics of subjects with chronic ankle instability using a multi-segmented foot model. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 45, 2129-2136. doi>

Vanrenterghem, J., Venables, E., Pataky, T., Robinson, M., 2012. The effect of running speed on knee mechanical loading in females during side cutting. Journal of Biomechanics, 45, 2444-2449. doi>


We have a history of working collaboratively with a number of national and international higher education institutions, and our research relationships include partnerships with: the University of Western Australia, Catholic University of Leuven, University of Gent, Manchester Metropolitan University, Brunel University, Bangor University, University of Bradford, University of Hull, University of Liverpool, Laval University (Canada), Shinshu University (Japan), Griffith University (Australia) and Brock University (Canada).

External clinical collaborators:

External industrial links:


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