Energy dissipation in human soft tissue during impacts

Loughborough University

School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Project Description

  • Full-time: 3 years
  • Part-time: 6 years
  • Start date: July 2022

When people get hit or hit things, including locomotion, the transient forces involved are normally high and produce mechanical shocks when compared to active muscularly directed human motion. As well as changes in surface shape and inertial properties of limbs this also leads to energy being passively dissipated in the soft tissues. These soft tissue deformations are not well documented but have applications in areas such as computer graphics, biomechanical and physiological performance, and the fundamental responses of biological tissue to impact. Energy loss may act to help damp the whole locomotor system but for constant velocity locomotion, the energy lost passively would have to be made up from muscular work and thus increased metabolic energy consumption. This energy loss may have an affect on things such as running economy or in accurately relating mechanical work to metabolic work in computer models of locomotion.

This project aims to characterise the tissue motion of the lower limb using lumped mass-spring-damper systems and wave mechanics during impacts with the floor to determine soft tissue energy dissipation. Soft tissue motion will be measured using arrays of reflective markers and a Vicon motion analysis system under various locomotion conditions with techniques and software developed over the last decade within the biomechanics group at Loughborough University. Alongside this, other measurements such as anthropometrics and tissue distributions, medical imaging, gas exchange for metabolic energy and ground reaction forces will be collected. Analysis of data will be carried out in Matlab and some computer simulation modelling could be involved.

This project would suit those with a very strong background in biomechanics, or those from engineering, maths, physics, backgrounds who have an interest in applying fundamental methods to human movement.

Primary supervisor: Dr Matthew Pain

Secondary supervisor: Dr Sam Allen

Funding Information

UK FEE: £4,500 – Full-time degree per annum
INTERNATIONAL FEE: £24,100 – Full-time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.

Eligibility Requirements

Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom: 2.1 or equivalent Bachelors degree

English language requirements: Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Find out more about research degree funding here.

Application Process

All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select ‘Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences’. Please quote the advertised reference number SSEHS/MTGP in your application. To avoid delays in processing your application please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

Supplementary Information

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF, 2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. Find out more.


Furlong, LA.M, Voukelatos, D., Kong, P.W., and Pain, M.T.G. 2020. Changes in inertial parameters of the lower limb during the impact phase of dynamic tasks. Journal of Biomechanics, 99, 109488.

Pain, M.T.G., Voukelatos, D., and Furlong, L.A.M. Energy dissipation due to soft tissues movement of the shank during forefoot and rearfoot impacts at different velocities. Proceedings of the XXVII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Calgary, Canada, July 2019.

To apply for this PhD, please use the following application link: