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Loughborough part of new national centre to reduce sports injuries’ risk

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Loughborough University is part of a new £3m Arthritis Research UK research centre that aims to reduce the impact of sports injuries incurred by elite and recreational sports players and understand why some sport and exercise injuries develop into debilitating osteoarthritis in later life.

Research teams in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS) aim to develop better injury treatments and screening tools which can predict an individual’s risk of developing osteoarthritis as a result of a sports injury.

Professor of Musculoskeletal Biology Mark Lewis is leading the Loughborough arm of the seven-site centre. He said:

“Regular exercise is vital to keep your joints healthy and the long-term benefits of exercise far outweigh the risk of injury.

“Our centre aims to keep people of all sporting abilities active and injury-free by developing definitive, evidence-based advice and information to minimise the consequence of injury and recommend effective treatments to reduce long-term damage.

“This is the first time in Europe that specialists in sports medicine and osteoarthritis are combining their expertise to understand why some sports injuries will go on to develop into osteoarthritis, and whether we can prevent or slow down degeneration in joints.”

In Loughborough researchers will:

  • Experiment with jump training to investigate whether it can influence ligament stiffness and thus protect potentially vulnerable joints
  • Use specially engineered muscle cells to investigate new treatment pathways for osteoarthritis
  • Grow and “exercise” joint cells in the laboratory

An injury to the joint is one of the main risk factors for osteoarthritis, along with ageing and obesity. Approximately eight million people in the UK are affected by osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of joint disease.

Professor Alan Silman, medical director of charity Arthritis Research UK which is funding the centre over five years, said:

“The health benefits of being active cannot be underestimated, but as we work hard to encourage people to adopt a more active lifestyle, we need to ensure they’re doing everything they can to prevent future problems.

“We think it’s very important that research in this area involves the general population as well as professional sports players, as osteoarthritis can affect anyone.”

The Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis is a consortium of seven universities led by Nottingham University Hospitals and the Universities of Nottingham and Oxford, and involving the Universities of Southampton, Bath, Loughborough, Leeds and University College London.

The research centre is officially launched on Monday (10 June), with research at Loughborough due to get underway this autumn.

For more information about looking after your joints when exercising visit If you are interested in taking part in the research contact centre administrators: or


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 13/102

  • There are two types of joint injury connected with sport and exercise - traumatic sports injuries associated with contact or collision sports such as rugby or football (e.g. joint sprain or instability), or overuse injuries associated with non-contact sports such as running or rowing (e.g. stress fracture).
  • Knee injuries are common and are estimated to account for between 15-50 per cent of all sports injuries. Females have been found to have a higher risk of knee injury when participating in some sports. One study has found that they are most common when participating in football (35 per cent) and skiing (26 per cent).(Majewski M, Susanne H, Klaus S. Epidemiology of athletic knee injuries: a 10 year study. Knee 2006; 13:184-188)
  • The centre also aims to identify and train researchers specialising in the field of sport and osteoarthritis research. At present these two areas are quite distinct.
  • Arthritis Research UK is the biggest funder in the UK of research into the cause, treatment and cure of all forms of arthritis. The charity’s research aims to develop the best prevention and treatment for arthritis in the world.
  • Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

    It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

    It is a member of the 1994 Group of 11 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.


Amanda Overend
Public Relations Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223491

Jane Tadman
Arthritis Research UK
T: 01246 541107


Krystyna La Roche
Arthritis Research UK
T: 020 7307 2227

PR team

Telephone: 01509 222224