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Optimising the Design of Sports and Exercise Products for Exercising Women Pre and Post Pregnancy S&T38

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: S&T38

Pregnancy results in substantial anatomical, physiological, and biomechanical changes to the human body. These include changes to body composition, anthropometrics and joint laxity.  Research has shown that physical exercise during and after pregnancy is recommended for uncomplicated pregnancies, benefiting both the health of the mother and the infant. Yet, because of the changes to the body experienced during pregnancy, many physically active mothers struggle to find comfortable, supportive and suitable sports clothing that accommodate their needs following pregnancy. In turn, this may hamper a return to exercise or sport post pregnancy. Similar issues are reported during pregnancy, thus posing a hinderance to some women from remaining active during their pregnancy.

Development of female specific sports and exercise products is growing but the suitability and specificity of these products during pregnancy and during the post-natal period is unknown. Commercial products that cater specifically for the differing needs of women during and post pregnancy are currently minimal. In particular, products such as a hybrid nursing/sports bra for breastfeeding mothers are sparse and often poorly designed, with little consideration for the end users’ requirements.

The PhD studentship is aimed at students interested in studying human-equipment interaction with a specific focus on females pre and post pregnancy. Initial studies will focus on the needs of women both pre and post-natal to determine the essential features required to optimise future sport and exercise products, with a specific focus on sports bras. A secondary aim of the studentship is to drive the needs of the end users to the front and centre of the sports product development process, with a focus on user-centred design. The candidate will also explore the feasibility of unobtrusively embedding bespoke sensors within the bra to monitor important parameters such as skin temperature, moisture content and heart rate. Incorporated sensors must have minimal impact on the bra’s comfort, aesthetics, mechanical properties (i.e. bendability, drapability and sheer), and durability. There is flexibility regarding the direction of the PhD, which can be partially moulded to suit the strengths and interests of the successful candidate.

Experimental work will include a wide range of measurement methods, including thermal physiology and comfort wear trials, motion analysis systems, textile testing, fabrication of smart textiles and computer aided design (CAD). The successful candidate will have opportunity to develop laboratory and software skills across the breadth of sport and exercise science and engineering disciplines during this multi-disciplinary project.

The supervisory team consists of Director of Studies Dr Katy Griggs (NTU) and co-supervisors Dr Pasindu Lugoda (NTU), Dr Steve Faulkner (NTU) and Dr Aimee Mears (Loughborough University).

School strategic research priority

The project will align with two research centres. Firstly, the Imaging, Materials and Engineering Centre, specifically under the Smart Technologies research area. Secondly, the project will also align with the Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement Centre.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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