Faculty of Biological Sciences

Dr Neil Messenger

BSc, PhD, Salford.
Lecturer in Biomechanics
School of Biomedical Sciences

Background: BSc (Salford), PhD (Salford), Postdoctoral research, University of Salford. Lecturer in Sport Biomechanics, University of Brighton. Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics (1995�present)

Contact:  Miall 4.02, +44(0) 113 34 35084, email address for  

Research Interests

Biomechanics of lower limb function

The principle research undertaken examines the biomechanical function of the lower limb and spine. This includes the biomechanical aetiology of overuse injury in physical activity, sport and exercise; the mechanical adaptation to locomotion under various external conditions or novel environments; and the influence of prosthetics on gait.

Overuse injuries of the lower limb are common in most sports and can, in extreme cases, result in the complete withdrawal of an athlete from their chosen activity. These injuries affect athletes across the full spectrum of performance levels, from elite to recreational, and have a significant impact on sport and exercise participation. It has long been postulated that an individual’s susceptibility to such injuries is in part due to their particular musculoskeletal structure and the coupling of limb motion across a number of joints. In particular these injuries have been associated with malfunction of the subtalar joint and its supporting structures. This joint has often been described as a torque converter in the transition of motion above the support foot during repetitive activities such as running. However, recent work has shown that, although this mechanism is apparent in both running and walking, the rigidity of the coupling is less than previously thought and that interaction between the forefoot and the lower limb (including the knee) is as important as that between the rearfoot and the lower limb. Future work seeks to develop a more complete model of these interactions.

Many gait irregularities are functions of poor or improper control of locomotion. The consequences of these, as in trips and falls in the elderly, can be devastating. Sport provides a useful model for the analysis of the control mechanisms used to maintain effective and efficient gait as it provides a number of well defined environments in which to investigate perturbations to and stresses on the locomotor apparatus. Current research focuses on: the effect of surface interaction and footwear; limb segment coordination in gait; and the control of balance in activities such as archery and weightlifting.

Prosthetic replacement of joints and limbs are increasingly effective and can improve the quality of life and functionality of otherwise seriously disabled patients. This is leading to greater functional demands being placed upon them, especially by young and/or otherwise very healthy individuals. In Paralympic sport, the development of highly specialised lower limb prostheses has progressed at pace but let so for the active but none sports person. Our work looks to understand the biomechanical functioning of prostheses in these more demanding tasks to allow, in collaboration with colleagues in medical engineering and mechatronics, improved design and testing of these devices.


Faculty Research and Innovation

Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Any aspect of biomechanics applied to sport and exercise but especially topics related to sports injury, rehabilitation, exercise and health.

Postgraduate studentship areas:

  • Biomechanical analysis of sports technique, sports equipment (especially footwear) design, prosthetics and gait.

See also:

Modules managed

SPSC2213 - Mechanics of Sport and Exercise 1
SPSC2304 - Mechanics of Sport and Exercise 2
SPSC3315 - Movement Analysis

Modules taught

MECH5500M - Func Joint Replace Tech (SC)
SPSC1211 - Tutorial and Practical Skills in Sport and Exercise Science
SPSC1218 - Introduction to Biomechanics
SPSC2218 - Professional and Research Skills: Working as a Sport and Exercise Scientist
SPSC2304 - Mechanics of Sport and Exercise 2
SPSC2304/2213 - Mechanics of Sport and Exercise
SPSC3061 - Research Project in Sport and Exercise Science II
SPSC3301 - Inter-disciplinary Issues in Sport and Exercise Science
SPSC3315 - Movement Analysis
SPSC3316 - Mechanics of Sport and Performance
SPSC5382 - Extended Research Project


Member of Taught Student Recruitment Group (Admissions Tutor for SES)

Group Leader Dr Neil Messenger  (Lecturer in Biomechanics)

Biomechanics of lower limb function 


James Hopwood (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Cormac Nolan (Primary supervisor) 100% FTE
Tahmineh Rezaeian (Primary supervisor) 50% FTE
Megan Hanson (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Robin Layton (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Ammar Wahid (Co-supervisor) 50% FTE
Safia Zerdazi (Co-supervisor) 33% FTE