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Society Member Danielle Ritson Showcases Collaborative International Research

Danielle Ritson, Sports Therapy Lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire recently presented a poster at the 8th MuscleTech Network workshop in Barcelona. The work showcased some early data from international research collaboration between her own university, Athletic Club Bilbao and the University of the Basque Country.

We talked to her about her involvement in this exciting research work.

What was the research and how did it come about?

I was fortunate to get involved in this large research project looking at Neuromuscular readiness to re-perform and injury risk in elite male youth academy footballers. The collaboration was between the University of Gloucestershire, Athletic Club which is also known as Athletic Bilbao from the Basque Country, Spain, and the University of the Basque Country. The research developed as a result of an increased injury rate seen at Athletic Club and previous projects completed by Professor Mark De Ste Croix, Professor of Paediatric Sport and Exercise at the University of Gloucestershire, with FIFA, the international governing body of football.

Can you tell us a little about the research?
Previous research has demonstrated that neuromuscular function following competitive game play was compromised at the next competitive match. This, in addition to the muscle damage seen following match play, can increase the risk of injury if adequate rest and recovery is not included in weekly training schedules. The research design involved a week long data collection of a variety of neuromuscular and performance variables; pre and post consecutive matches on Saturdays and pre training sessions in the week between matches.

Who carried out the testing?
I was part of a 6 person research team who travelled to Bilbao from the University of Gloucestershire, including staff and students across our Sports Science Community, including Strength & Conditioning, Sports Therapy and Sport and Exercise Science. This experience was great for me working alongside the medical team at Athletic Club including Head of Medicine Josean Lekue, Lead Academy Physical Preparation Coach Imanol Martin Garechana and Dr Julio Calleja-Gonzalez from University of the Basque Country. This opportunity provided me with access to an elite group of youth soccer players, and I was able to utilise great facilities to develop my research skills. Hospitality from the club was exceptional with copious amounts of delicious food supplied, to get us through the long days of testing.

Has the research been completed?

Yes and No! All data has been collected but due to the volume of data we have, the data analysis is still on-going but we were keen to present some of the early findings. Alongside colleagues Professor Mark De Ste Croix and Dr. Jonathan Hughes, I presented some of the base line (pre match1) data in poster format at the MuscleTech Network workshop.

The title of the poster was:  ‘Ankle-dorsiflexion range of motion during the weight-bearing lunge: Links to knee valgus injuries in landing tasks in football?’ Injury risk associated with knee valgus is a research interest I explored through my MSc Sports and Exercise Biomechanics and which appear frequently in patients I see.  

How was the conference?
The focus of the conference was on Quadriceps injuries. It was great to hear the importance of anatomy and muscle physiology echoed amongst some very experienced medical professionals within the room, to have an effective approach to treating injury. Presentations and questions promoted lots of thought provoking ideas and discussions, developing my own knowledge around this topic which I have implemented into my teaching at my university.

Looking back what are your thoughts about the experience and where this might lead?
This was my first experience of presenting research at a conference. It was such a great venue, the Nou Camp, home of Barcelona Football Club, surrounded by inspirational speakers from the sports medicine and football arena.

More of the data and findings from this project will be presented once again at the Nou Camp in May 2017 at the Isokinetic Football Medicine Conference, the world’s largest Sports Medicine Conference. 

Looking back, my involvement in this project has really kick started my research career aspirations, as I am going to utilise more of this data to enrol on my PhD next year. I have gained invaluable research collection and presentation experiences which I am able to share with the Undergraduate and Post-graduate students I teach, enthusing and inspiring them with the importance of continued research within Sport + Exercise Science /Medicine disciplines.

Editor’s Note

Congratulations Danielle. Great to see a Society Member involved in this exciting collaboration and you are clearly an inspiration to your University of Gloucestershire students.

We hope Danielle will also inspire other Members to undertake research. Please do get in touch if you have presented any research or had a paper published – we would love to hear from you. Please email:
You can have a look at Danielle's Poster here

Posted: 03 02 2017

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