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BODIES research.

Biomechanical Optimization of Daily life, Exercise, & Sports

“Pushing the limits of human movement”

ABOUT

BODIES stands for Biomechanical Optimization of Daily life, Exercise, and Sports. The research focusses on the boundaries of human movement using biomechanical modelling, experiments, and wearables. Boundaries of human movement predict how we move as optimal as possible (performance) and when our movements become impaired (movement limitations). Therefore, the focus is on both daily life activities and sports and the models range from simple mass models to complex neuromusculoskeletal models.

WHAT MOVES US?

Have you ever wondered why you move the way you do? As humans we have a high redundancy in our neuro-musculoskeletal systems. We have physiological redundancy, referring the the neuromuscular capacity of our bodies, and functional redundancy, meaning that we can reach the same goal using different movement strategies and/or muscle activations. For example we could stand up from a chair by pushing off on the armrests or we could walk with a wider base of support. Theoretically, each person could use different muscle activation patterns for the same task. However, humans and animals select relatively stereotypical activation patterns. And as we age, we all seem to compensate for the age-related decline in similar matters. So, how do we select these movement strategies within this functional redundancy of the human body?

We try to find answers to these questions by studying age-related compensation strategies. Therefore we perform experimental studies and develop predictive neuromuscular simulations to investigate how a reduction in capacity leads to altered movement strategies (compensation). Moreover, we interpret compensation as an early indicator of age-related decline. Designing clever wearables that make use of this relationship, allows for early detection and intervention to prevent movement impairments. Understanding the capacity-compensation relationship also allows for the design of targeted intervention technologies. These topics are explored in our AGEING and REHABILITATION research.

PUSHING THE LIMITS

In sports, we reach for our limits. The question here is how we can ultimately use our capacity to reach the highest performance without getting injured. Within sport movements, there are usually many variables within the technique that can be tweaked. By trial-and-error and experience, elite athletes and their coaches seek for the optimal motion. This is not only time-consuming, but pushing the limits can also result in injuries. What if we can use predictive computer simulations to find the optimal sports movements and consecutively use real-time feedback to learn these strategies? This is what we explore in the SPORTS research.

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BODIES research

Optimal speed skating movement