Sports students benefiting from new Biomechanics and Performance Sciences Lab

Date: Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Students on Sports degree programmes at Wrexham University are benefiting from world-class equipment and facilities, following on from the completion of the institution’s new Biomechanics and Performance Sciences Laboratory. 

Completed as part of the University’s Campus 2025 strategy, the Laboratory will support students, academics, researchers and sporting clubs to explore how exercise can help to understand how the human body works, with the goal of improving performance and reducing risk of injury.  

It boasts a host of industry-standard technology, including: 

  • An Alter-G treadmill, which is an anti-gravity treadmill that allows running or walking at a reduced body weight for patients or athletes recovering from injury. 
  • An Isokinetic Dynamometer, which measures and controls the speed of joint movement during muscular contractions. The device provides a range of measurements, including peak torque (the maximum amount of force produced by the muscle), angle-specific torque (the amount of force produced at a specific joint angle), and work (the amount of energy expended during the movement). 
  • The Qualisys Motion Capture System, which is a camera-based system that records human movement and uses specialist software for analysing performance for improvement or injury prevention. 

The new technology will enable the University to develop an impactful research and innovation base relating to physical performance and wellbeing by developing research in rehabilitative capacities, and the impact of specific strengthening techniques. 

The majority of funding for the Alter-G treadmill and the Isokinetic Dynamometer came about through a successful bid to Welsh Government, through its SMART Flexible Innovation Support (FIS), which supports demand-driven research, development and innovation and collaborations that deliver benefits for people and the environment. 

Student Owain Goodwin testing the Alter-G treadmill, with support from Jade Johnson

As well as the new technologies unveiled at the University as part of the new Laboratory, the institution has also invested in a range of new equipment, including Olympic lifting bars, power racks, a 10-metre sprint track, strength and conditioning kit – including dumbbells, kettlebells and benches, and performance testing kit – including speed gates and a jump mat.  

The Lab was developed as part of Phase 2a of the capital development works associated with the University’s Health and Education Innovation Quarter (HEIQ). 

Richard Lewis, Sport Scientist, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with our newly completed Biomechanics and Performance Sciences Laboratory and the incredible cutting-edge equipment and facilities that it now boasts.  

“The benefits to the Lab and new equipment are boundless – from informing future rehabilitative guidelines to local businesses being able to utilise this innovation to create new services supporting rehabilitation, as well as benefits to sports teams, not to mention our students and graduates, who will invest those skills and that knowledge back into our communities, benefitting health and sports service users.” 

Jade Johnson, Coaching: Sport and Fitness student

Dr Chelsea Batty, Principal Lecturer for Sport, said: “Our new Biomechanics and Performance Sciences Laboratory is a fantastic addition to our Sports offering, here at the University, as well as our research. 

“This research will create new opportunities for businesses and us at the University to provide new products and services, as well as enabling the development of more effective treatments, which will have a positive impact in improving and maintaining health and resilience from injuries. 

“It aligns with the Well-being Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 by ultimately delivering innovative research, which will create healthier populations, provide new and innovative education and practices in rehab, healthcare and sports.” 

Gareth Price-Lovell, a second year Sports Injury Rehabilitation student, added: “I think the new Lab and the kit I’ve tested so far is great. It’s brilliant that we are able to make use of these industry-standard facilities, while studying at university. It’s certainly going to make us stand out from the crowd from an employability point of view, when we complete our course.” 

This week, Professor Maria Hinfelaar, Vice-Chancellor of the University, and Chancellor Colin Jackson will host a special showcase afternoon to celebrate the University’s latest completed developments and facilities, as part of the Campus 2025 masterplan. This showcase will include the new Biomechanics and Performance Sciences Laboratory.