We asked Professor of Physiotherapy Duncan Reid four questions about his research at the time of his Inaugural Professorial Address.
I’ve had the most enjoyment from research in the field of elite rowing. I’ve been a rower since I was 15 years old and have been able to pursue my interest in the sport through my profession. Back pain is a major issue when rowing and for top tier athletes who need to row 120 km a week, there is a price to pay. My research into stretching intervention methods to change the angles of the back when rowing was a result of seeing these impacts when I was a physiotherapist for Rowing New Zealand. Another research project with one of my master’s students about the long-term impacts of elite rowing on lower back pain was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
These are part of a body of work focusing on injury prevention that has helped put approaches in place to strengthen our rowers, ensure they warm up correctly and enable them to train more with less injury and ultimately perform better on the world stage.
Everyone should have a passion, something that compels you to make a difference. My advice to new or aspiring researchers is to be sure you have this. Research isn’t easy, sometimes it doesn’t give you the answers you expect, and you must get through this, along with the challenges of publishing and ultimately applying your work.
In the dark moments, when grappling with the statistics, I always go back to the fact that it’s the question that is the most important thing – what do we understand, or need to understand?
My passion has always been sport. Being a physiotherapist for Commonwealth and Olympic teams makes you realise you don’t want to treat injuries all the time, but to focus on minimising them.
At AUT my research has allowed me to take what I have experienced and my intuition and apply this by working with industry to answer the key questions. Ultimately, this has helped our rowers win medals.
It’s a nice recognition of 20 years of academic work that followed 18 years of clinical practice. Being a professor provides criticality and credibility and I’m fortunate to have a foot in each camp – through postgraduate teaching, continuing to treat injuries as well as being able to review and critique research and new thinking, by applying it in the sports arena and improving it with practical experiences.
In my high-performance sports role, as a clinical and research advisor I’ve been able to generate and supervise a range of research projects that have helped to advance our knowledge in the area of sports injury prevention, and practical ways to implement this knowledge.
I’ve developed a methodology to capture injury incidents and hope to see this become more broadly used as a platform to report the problems, minimise them and monitor athletes.
This is another way of ensuring New Zealand can continue to achieve amazing things on the world sporting stage and has applications beyond elite sports.
We know that as people age, getting optimal exercise is crucial and has positive impacts on numerous things like immunity, muscle mass, and cardio health.
The human body should move, and we need to help people hit the sweet spot of getting enough exercise to gain the benefits, without overdoing it and suffering injuries.