Our Research

We focus capability and capacity in three themes:

  1. human performance,
  2. active individuals, and
  3. active communities.

Our research projects align with La Trobe’s research focus areas of Building Healthy Communities, and Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation.

Human performance

Improvement of running performance and reduction of impact loads

This is a series of projects looking at running mechanics and elements related to injury risk, for example,  bilateral asymmetries, strength and technique.

Duration: 2016-current

Partners: UEL-Brazil

Chief Investigators: Dr Rodrigo Rico Bini, Dr Felipe Moura

Improving function and reducing injury in Army soldiers

This project assesses the cushioning properties of defence boots and to devise new materials to be used in the boot structure to reduce loads and improve performance of defence personnel.

Duration:  2020-2025

Partners: School of Physical Education of the Brazilian Army, Ibtec-Brazil

Chief Investigators: Dr. Rodrigo Bini, Dr. Adriane Muniz, Dr. Rudnei Palhano

Evaluation of accelerometers as wearable workload management tools in cricket fast bowling

Cricket fast bowlers are frequently injured with the most serious injuries occurring in the lumbar spine. To reduce injury risk workload management is used in training and match play however injury reporting suggests only moderate success.  Typical workload management does not include measures of physiological force, without which it is impossible to manage individualised bowling workloads.

Ground reaction forces are very high in fast bowling but how these forces impact on body tissues is poorly understood. Previously published studies have been unable to improve workload management methods in cricket. This laboratory-based, repeated-measures, cohort study will evaluate the validity of accelerometer derived forces compared to front and back foot contact ground reaction forces during fast bowling; with the aim of informing the development of a field-wearable tool for workload management.

Duration: 2019-2023.

Chief investigators: Dr Daniel Wundersitz (Holsworth Research Initiative), Prof Michael Kingsley (Auckland University)

Application of wearable tracking devices to quantify playing surface hardness

Team sports are performed on a variety of different playing surfaces such as asphalt, natural grass, and wooden parquet. These surfaces change the way team sport athletes interact with the ground (e.g., alter the magnitude of force on the body) and some surfaces may fatigue athletes quicker than others (e.g., playing on natural grass versus asphalt). As a result, playing surfaces interact with athletic performance and injury risk.

Optimal athletic performance and a reduction in injury likelihood requires a workload monitoring method sensitive to surface hardness. Accelerometers provide an indirect measure of force based on the relationship between force and acceleration as proposed by Newton’s Second Law of Motion. This sensor is also integrated within wearable tracking devices and the data produced is under-utilised and may be under-valued as a possible solution to accurate monitoring of workloads on different surfaces. This study will assess the sensitivity of accelerometry to quantify changes in playing surface.

Investigators: Dr Daniel Wundersitz (Holsworth Research Initiative), Prof Michael Kingsley (Auckland University)

How the cycle-to-run transition in triathlons influences running performance

The cycle-to-run transition in triathlon has been extensively investigated and a wealth of information for triathletes and coaches has been published. However, there is a huge difference between the studies on their methods, triathletes’ skill level interventions, and level of evidence, and this makes it hard to understand the cycle-to-run transition in depth. There is a particular need for examining the physiological and biomechanical responses involved in the cycle-to-run transition. In addition, there is no readily available summary on the effects of changes in cycling cadence, intensity and other factors on the later running performance.

This  systematic review will collect the literature on differences in laboratory and field tests of cycle-to-run transition, describing the physiological and biomechanical responses from triathletes. This review will also summarise the effects from interventions during cycling on running biomechanics and physiology, including changes in pedalling cadence, intensity, drafting, shoe-cleat position, training, and bike fitting in order to assist future studies.

Researchers: Dr Rodrigo Bini (HRI), Dr Jayden Hunter (HRI), Dr. Pedro Figueiredo (Portuguese Soccer Federation)

Active individuals

The effect of recreational cycling on heart health

A paradox exists where regular exercise training results in a broad range of health benefits but can increase the occurrence of cardiac arrhythmias. Being a common precursor to sudden cardiac death, arrhythmias can impact the health and wellbeing of individuals. We recently reported a 10-fold increase in arrhythmias in adults after accumulating moderate intensity cycling for 21 days. However, we do not know if acute bouts of similar intensity exercise cause cardiac arrhythmias and if so, what the time-course and mechanisms are. In this project, we will explore the time course, effect of sleep and potential mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias in adults.

Duration of project: 2 years

Partners and funding bodies: La Trobe University Sport Exercise and Rehabilitation RFA ($35,000).

Chief investigators:

  • La Trobe University (Holsworth Research Initiative): Dr Daniel Wundersitz, Dr Jo Spong, Prof Michael Kingsley (Auckland University)
  • Bendigo Health (Cardiology Department): Dr Voltaire Nadurata

Impact of Endurance Exercise on the Heart of Cyclists

Exercise training is good for health and endurance exercise training provides additional benefits. Cycling is a popular form of endurance exercise training and the cardiovascular demands can be high. Previous work has only compared heart structural and functional metrics in athletes in absolute units however heart characteristics should ideally be presented relative to body size. This review and meta-analysis aims to assess the chronic effect of endurance cycling performance on cardiac structure and function in units relative to body size. A secondary aim is to systematically assess the incidence of cardiac abnormality in endurance cyclists.

Partners:  

  • John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, Ochsner Clinical School-the University of Queensland, New Orleans , Louisiana , USA
  • Bendigo Health, Cardiology Department

Chief investigators:

Dr Daniel Wundersitz, Dr Brett Gordon, Professor Carl Lavie (John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute), Dr Voltaire Nadurata (Bendigo Health) & Professor Michael Kingsley

Heart rate variability in deep sleep

We recently investigated the effect of a 21- day fundraising cycle ride on heart function across various age categories. HRV was monitored 24 hours pre- and on average three-days post- intervention. Results demonstrated no changes in HRV, although the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias in the adults and older adults was significantly increased.

There were a number of confounding variables that may have influenced HRV in particular. For example, HRV was assessed three days after the event finished and it may be that this time point, is too long after the event (i.e., the participants were able to fully recover by then). However the arrhythmia incidence implies that this may not be the case. A more likely explanation is that over the 24-hour period that as HRV was monitored, noise was introduced within the signal which potentially blunted any exercise-induced change in HRV.

Noise may include any form of activity during waking hours. The most accurate time to assess HRV is during deep sleep, however, few studies have investigated deep sleep HRV in recreational endurance athletes and more research is needed to understand the acute effects of multi-day ultra-endurance activity on HRV.

Duration: Ongoing since 2017

Partners: Bendigo Health

Chief investigators: Dr Daniel Wundersitz (Holsworth Research Initiative), Prof Michael Kingsley (Auckland University), Dr Voltaire Nadurata (Bendigo Health).

Model of Care for People with Diabetes in the Yarra Ranges

Diabetes is one of the fastest growing chronic diseases in the world and access to health professionals and specialised health services is poorer in regional areas compared to metropolitan areas. This project is working to determine the best model for proving care to manage diabetes for people living in the Yarra Ranges – clinic or community-based care.

Duration: 2017 ongoing

Partner: Inspiro Community Health

Chief Investigators: Elizabeth Kennedy (PhD student), Dr Brett Gordon, Dr Adrienne Forsyth, Dr Ashley Ng, Gillian Smith – primary Care Manager Inspiro Community Health.

Physical activity, absenteeism and presenteeism of workers during COVID-19 and beyond

Most adult Australians were not meeting Australian public health guidelines for physical activity in adults even before the COVID-19 lockdown. This project will assess If exercise behaviours change under COVID-19 working conditions, if physical activity behaviour is related to absenteeism and presenteeism, and  the barriers and facilitators to participation in exercise for Australian and New Zealand workers. The project will explore if small doses of workplace exercise interventions can improve health and increase productivity.

Duration: 2020 ongoing

Chief Investigators: Dr Jayden Hunter

Physical activity and exercise in the face of COVID-19: how, when and why

In COVID-19 patients, thrombosis – excess clotting that obstructs blood flow – is a major cause of intensive care admission and death. This study will investigate if light intensity exercise can ease blood clot risks, particularly with people with pre-existing health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease. The team will study how blood markers change as a result of very low to moderate intensity exercise, and analyse blood samples from their study participants for changes in markers related to clotting.

Duration: 2020 ongoing

Partner: Bendigo Health

Chief Investigators: Dr Emma Zadow, Dr Daniel Wundersitz, Dr Jayden Hunter and Dr Brett Gordon

Active communities

The goal of these studies is to assist in identifying behaviour change interventions that increase physical activity level, and improve health-related outcomes in non-admitted secondary care patients.

Duration of project: 5 years

Partners: Bendigo Health; La Trobe, Bendigo

Chief Investigators: Prof Michael Kingsley (University of Auckland), Dr Steve Begg and Mr Stephen Barrett (Holsworth Research Initiative and the La Trobe School of Rural Health)

Injury prevention screening tools in sport: a systematic scoping review

Duration: 2020 ongoing

This scoping project aims to review the research literature on succesful injury prevention tools in sport with a focus on lower limb injury and participants in interactive sports (e.g. football).

Chief Investigators:, Dr Angela McGlashan, Dr Courtney Sullivan, Dr Carolyn Taylor, Dr Nivan Weerakkody, Dr Daniel Wundersitz

Injury prevention programs in sport: a systematic scoping review

Duration: 2020 ongoing

This scoping project aims to review the research literature on succesful injury prevention programs in sport with a focus on lower limb injury and people participating in interactive sports.

Chief Investigators:, Dr Angela McGlashan, Dr Courtney Sullivan, Dr Carolyn Taylor, Dr Nivan Weerakkody, Dr Daniel Wundersitz