Manchester City partner with the English Institute of Sport

Manchester City corner flag.
A Manchester City corner flag stands unwavering. (Photo by Mike Egerton)

Today, Manchester City have announced a partnership with the English Institute for Sport (EIS) to create a research collaborative. The pioneering project will look into the effect of hormone levels on health and performance.

A particular focus will be on the menstrual cycle, an area that has little understanding. Therefore, the collaboration will look to accelerate understanding in an area that is still largely unknown. With most research having been focused on male athletes, the unique technology known as Hormonix will therefore provide vital data.

Prevalence of injury

It sometimes seems impossible for a season in the women’s game to go by without a considerable amount of serious injuries.

The FA Women’s Super League has eight teams less than the Premier League. Yet, severe injuries are much more prevalent in the women’s game. Thus, it makes sense for a club to look into ways they can better prevent such injuries happening to their players. 

Aoife Mannion is an example of this. The Manchester City defender was sidelined for 18 months after sustaining an ACL injury in October 2019.

Mannion’s return came just months before forward Chloe Kelly sustained a similar injury during her first season at the club.

It isn’t just City who have had players experiencing similar setbacks. Chelsea’s No.18 Maren Mjelde was also forced to undergo surgery for a knee injury she suffered in the Continental Cup Final in March.

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The relative infancy of the professional women’s game means little has been done to investigate why these types of injuries are so prevalent.

Uses of the technology

The technology developed by Mint Diagnostics will be provided to selected first team players by the EIS. The EIS provides support to more than 40 high performance sports within the UK.

The collaborative hopes that data from the study will benefit athletes across the sporting system. The data gathered could also have an impact on wider society with an understanding of how the menstrual cycle could relate to injuries.

Dr James McCarron, head of sports science and medicine at Manchester City, seemed excited about the potential of the project.

“Our overarching performance vision is to win the hearts and minds of fans and future footballers around the world through pioneering performances of high skill played at high intensity.”

Dr Richard Burden, Co-Lead for Female Athlete Health at the EIS, also seemed optimistic about the project.

“This is a truly pioneering collaboration, and we are very excited to work with Manchester City Women. Through developing an incubator for this work, we hope to benefit the high-performance athletes that we support across more than 40 different sports.”

His belief in the importance of the data being collected was also evident.

“The insights developed here could also be translatable to grassroots, developmental athletes and to the general population.”

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A step forward for players

Manchester City and England captain Steph Houghton is one of the senior team players who are involved in the project. When asked about the research, Houghton seemed optimistic that the data gathered could have a tangible impact. She also acknowledged the lack of understanding around female athletes hormones.

“Throughout my time in the game, there has been a real lack of information and research surrounding female athletes and the effect of hormone levels on performance,” said Houghton. “It’s incredibly exciting that we’re able to now do some real work on it.”

The City No.6 has been no stranger to serious injuries that have kept her off the pitch for extended periods. Houghton ruptured her ACL in 2009 and recently experienced an achilles injury. The defender who has been at City for the past seven years was full of praise for the club.

“Manchester City make sure that we have everything we need to reach our optimum, but the fact that they’re now going a step further into an area where the surface has barely been scratched is so important.” Houghton continued, “It speaks volumes about how highly the Club values its women’s team.”

The move comes as women’s football prepares itself for a run of international tournaments. Everyone involved will undoubtedly have an eye on the data, looking to prevent injuries during congested seasons and international breaks.

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