Scientists from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex have received a grant of £28,571 from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to help in their studies of the use of near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to determine the levels of oxygen in muscle. This helps athletes to optimise their training schedules and racing strategies. The funding will help design and develop a lightweight, portable device that can be worn comfortably in training and feed information wirelessly in real time to the coach. This will allow optimal targeting of training sessions in the field.
Professor Chris Cooper, Professor Ralph Beneke and Dr Caroline Angus of Essex’s Medical Optics Group will be working with physicists, engineers and computer scientists at University College London who will design the instrumentation. The Essex team will be carrying out testing and optimisation.
Professor Cooper explains that “exercise uses up oxygen and therefore how much oxygen is in the muscle is a measure of whether the oxygen being delivered is keeping up with its consumption. The key to the project is to take this data from the scientists to the coaches so they can use it to help optimise the way athletes warm up, or to design pacing strategies telling athletes when it’s the right time for them to speed up or conserve energy during a race.”
The team aims to have a working prototype in trials by spring 2008. For more information see www.essex.ac.uk/bs/mog and an article by Caroline Angus in NIR news last year (www.impublications.com/nir/abstract/N17_0721).