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Sources of mechanical power for human movement


04 Mar 2013


Dr Glen Lichtwark, University of Queensland
Dr Dominic Farris, University of Queensland


Dr Glen Lichtwark and Dr Dominic Farris discussed their work on the sources of power for human and animal movement from the whole body to the muscular level. The role of elastic structures (i.e. tendons) in enhancing muscle-tendon power output and efficiency was a particular focus of the presentation.

Background - Research into sources of mechanical power for human movement

Muscles are the source of mechanical power for human and animal movement. By forming cross-bridges between proteins and shortening, muscles can produce force and do mechanical work to drive rotation at joints and power whole body motion. The external mechanical power output of human movement has been extensively studied and in-vitro experiments on isolated muscle have revealed much about the mechanics of muscle contraction. Linking the two during human movement remains less explored and is crucial to understanding how many separate muscles can coordinate their actions to produce a variety of movements in an effective and efficient manner.

Biography - Dr Glen Lichtwark

Dr Glen Lichtwark is a Research Fellow in the School of Human Movement Studies at UQ. He was awarded his PhD in 2005 from University College London (UK), where he studied the influence of muscle and tendon elasticity on power output and energetics of muscle. He has subsequently worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Royal Veterinary College (UK), Imperial College (UK) and more recently at Griffith University (2007-2009).

Biography - Dr Dominic Farris

Dr Dominic Farris is a post doctoral scholar jointly funded by UQ and the AIS. His research focuses on the biomechanics of human locomotion, with particular interest in the in-vivo measurement of muscle and tendon mechanics. Specific research interests include: Muscle and tendon mechanics for locomotion; linking the mechanics and energetics of locomotion; muscle morphology and function in healthy and injured/impaired individuals; and muscle and tendon injury mechanics.

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