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Dr Peter Francis


About Dr Peter Francis

As part of the School of Rehabilitation and Health Science, Peter lecturers on BSc and MSc courses in Sports and Exercise Therapy and Medicine. A background in sport and exercise science from the University of Limerick, Peter is an accredited performance physiologist with the Irish Institute of Sport, twice working there before the Beijing and London Olympics.

Peter became interested in overuse injuries from his own experiences as an endurance runner and completed a BSc Physical Therapy, in which he was awarded student of the year in a class of 40. As a result Peter has been involved in the treatment and rehabilitation of a number of European, World and Olympic athletes in the sport of athletics. Peter is an IAAF level 4 endurance coach and ran the endurance program at the University of Limerick for a period of 3 years (2010 - 2013). Peter uses his combined knowledge of exercise science and rehabilitation to provide athlete training camp support and coach education for the Athletics Association of Ireland. Most recently, Peter was team manager for the Irish athletics team at the European Junior Championships in Sweden.

Peter was awarded the 'Roadbridge Medical Research Scholarship' to undertake a PhD investigating age-related change in muscle quality at the University of Limerick (2010 - 2013). In 2013, Peter was appointed lecturer in Sport and Health Science at the University of St. Mark and St. John, Plymouth. In 2014, Peter was appointed senior lecturer at Leeds Beckett University. Peter is also the weekend pitch side therapist for local rugby team Leodiensian's RUFC.

Current Teaching

  • BSc Sport and Exercise Therapy
  • MSc Sport and Exercise Therapy
  • MSc Sport and Exercise Medicine

Research Interests

Peter's research broadly focuses on muscle function. This includes the measurement of age-related change in muscle quality, changes in running economy as a result of improvements in muscle function, injury related change in muscle function and responses to therapeutic intervention.

The measurement of age-related change in muscle function is important as it is contributing to a body of knowledge attempting to develop diagnostic criteria for sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is to muscle what osteoporosis is to bone, yet diagnostic criteria for muscle lags far behind the well-established criteria for the assessment of bone health. Peter's work is also starting to move into assessing the muscular health of retired rugby players due to IRB (International Rugby Board) concerns about player health after what is becoming an increasingly traumatic and injurious career since professionalism arrived in the early 2000’s.

Peter's work in relation to muscle injury focuses on footballers and endurance athletes. Muscle injury is the most prevalent injury in football and contributes to the greatest amount of time missed from training and matches. Furthermore, muscle re-injury leads to significantly greater muscle damage than the initial injury. Deficits in muscle function can remain even when MRI imaging appears clear which suggests imaging alone cannot govern return to play criteria. Peter's work aims to chart muscle function pre, during and post injury.

PhD Students
Peter is currently supervising the following research students:
  • Ian O’Sullivan – Determinants of running economy in national standard distance runners.
  • Ashley Jones – Muscle function prior to injury, during rehabilitation and after return to play in professional soccer players.
  • Hannah Wilson – The effect of kinesiology tape on pain and muscle function.
  • Ian Entwistle – Musculoskeletal health in retired professional rugby players.
  • Isobel Thornley – Musculoskeletal health across the life span.
  • Lawrence Mayhew – Body composition and injury risk factors in female footballers.
  • Cassie Oddy – Neuromuscular adaptation to barefoot running.

Selected Publications

Journal articles (24)

  • Wilson HV; Jones AD; Johnson MI; Francis P (2019), The effect of inter-electrode distance on radial muscle displacement and contraction time of the biceps femoris, gastrocnemius medialis and biceps brachii, using Tensiomyography in healthy participants.. Physiol Meas
    https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6579/ab1cef
  • O Sullivan IJ; Johnson MI; Hind K; Breen S; Francis P (2019), Are changes in running economy associated with changes in performance in runners? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Sports Sciences
    https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2019.1575177
  • Francis P; Whatman C; Sheerin K; Hume P; Johnson M (2018), The Proportion of Lower Limb Running Injuries by Gender, Anatomical Location and Specific Pathology: A Systematic Review. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, vol. 18
    View Repository Record
  • Jones A; Jones G; Greig N; Bower P; Brown J; Hind K; Francis P (2018), Epidemiology of Injury in English Professional Football Players: a cohort study. Physical Therapy in Sport
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ptsp.2018.10.011
  • Francis P; Schofield G; Mackay L (2018), Being Barefoot. Prevalence at Home, in School and during Sport: A Cross-Sectional Survey of 714 New Zealand Secondary School Boys. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research
    https://doi.org/10.1186/s13047-018-0285-y
    View Repository Record
  • Francis P; Mc Cormack W; Lyons M; Jakeman P (2018), Age-group Differences in the Performance of Selected Tests of Physical Function and Association with Lower Extremity Strength. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, vol. 42 (1)
    https://doi.org/10.1519/JPT.0000000000000152
    View Repository Record
  • Wilson H; Johnson M; Francis P (2018), Repeated stimulation, inter-stimulus interval and inter-electrode distance alters muscle contractile properties as measured by Tensiomyography. PLoS ONE
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191965
    View Repository Record
  • Jones G; Burnham V; Francis P; Johnson M (2018), An Investigation into the Effect of Blood Flow Restriction on Pain and Muscular Endurance in Healthy Human Participants. Journal of Physical Medicine, vol. 1 (1)
    View Repository Record
  • Francis P; Gray K; Perrem N (2018), The relationship between concentric hip abductor strength and the performance of the Y-balance test (YBT). International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training, vol. 23 (1)
    https://doi.org/10.1123/ijatt.2017-0003
    View Repository Record
  • Francis P; Mc Cormack W; Toomey C; Norton C; Saunders J; Kerin E; Lyons M; Jakeman P (2017), Twelve weeks' progressive resistance training combined with protein supplementation beyond habitual intakes increases upper leg lean tissue mass, muscle strength and extended gait speed in healthy older women.. Biogerontology, vol. 18 (6)
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10522-016-9671-7
    View Repository Record
  • Fitzharris N; Jones G; Jones A; Francis P (2017), The first prospective injury audit of league of Ireland footballers.. BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
    View Repository Record
  • Francis P (2017), To Shod or Not to Shod: Are We Asking the Right Question?. Co-Kinetic Journal
    View Repository Record
  • Francis P; Oddy C; Johnson MI (2017), Reduction in plantar heel pain and a return to sport after a barefoot running intervention in a female triathlete with plantar fasciitis.. International Journal of Athletic Therapy and Training, vol. 22 (5)
    https://doi.org/10.1123/ijatt.2016-0072
    View Repository Record
  • Francis PP; Mc Cormack W; Toomey C; Lyons M; Jakeman P (2017), Muscle strength can better differentiate between gradations of functional performance than muscle quality in healthy 50 - 70y women.. Brazilian Journal of Physical Therapy
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjpt.2017.06.013
    View Repository Record
  • Wilson H; Johnson M; Francis P (2017), Contractile Rate of Muscle Displacement Estimated from the Slope of the Displacement-Time Curve using Tensiomyography. Advances in Skeletal Muscle Function Assessment
    View Repository Record
  • Francis P; Mc Cormack W; Lyons M; Jakeman P (2017), Voluntary contractile rate of torque development in healthy 50-70 year old women: Measurement of, association with functional tasks and response to intervention.. Advances in Skeletal Muscle Function Assessment
    View Repository Record
  • Francis P; Lyons M; Piasecki M; McPhee J; Hind K; Jakeman P (2017), Measurement of muscle health in aging. Biogerontology, vol. 18 (6)
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10522-017-9697-5
    View Repository Record
  • Llewellyn H; Konstantaki M; Johnson MI; Francis P (2017), The Effect of a Pilates Exercise Programme on Perceived Functional Disability and Pain Associated with Non-Specific Chronic Low Back Pain. MOJ Yoga & Physical Therapy
    https://doi.org/10.15406/mojypt.2017.02.00013
    View Repository Record
  • Mayhew L; Johnson M; Francis P; Snowdon N; Jones G (2017), Inter-rater reliability, internal consistency and common technique flaws of the tuck jump assessment in elite female football players. Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 1 (2), p. 139-144.
    https://doi.org/10.1080/24733938.2017.1282165
    View Repository Record
  • Jones AD; Hind K; Wilson H; Johnson M; Francis P (2017), A standardised protocol for the assessment of lower limb muscle contractile properties in football players using Tensiomyography. Advances in Skeletal Muscle Function Assessment, vol. 1 (1)
    View Repository Record
  • Francis P; Ledingham J; Clarke S; Collins DJ; Jakeman P (2016), A Comparison of Stride Length and Lower Extremity Kinematics during Barefoot and Shod Running in Well Trained Distance Runners. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, vol. 15
    View Repository Record
  • Francis P; Mc Cormack W; Caseley A; Copeman J; Jones G (2016), Body composition changes in an endurance athlete using two different training strategies. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness
    https://doi.org/10.23736/S0022-4707.16.06365-9
    View Repository Record
  • Francis P; Toomey C; McCormack W; Lyons M; Jakeman P (2016), Measurement of maximal isometric torque and muscle quality of the knee extensors and flexors in healthy 50- to - 70-year-old women. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging
    https://doi.org/10.1111/cpf.12332
    View Repository Record
  • Norton C; Toomey C; McCormack WG; Francis P; Saunders J; Kerin E; Jakeman P (2015), Protein Supplementation at Breakfast and Lunch for 24 Weeks beyond Habitual Intakes Increases Whole-Body Lean Tissue Mass in Healthy Older Adults. The Journal of Nutrition
    https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.115.219022

Conference contributions (2)

  • Jones AD; Francis P; Jones G; Hind K (2017) A prospective audit of injuries in English male professional football players University of Bath 20171012. : .
    View Repository Record
  • Jones A; Entwistle I; Barlow M; Thurlow S; O'Hara JP; Sale C; Varley I; Francis P; Schilders E; Hind K (2017) DXA body composition reference ranges for male professional footballers Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain 20170513. : .
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