As humans, we rely on the strength and function of our skeletal muscles for a wide range of activities and tasks, whether it's lifting heavy objects, playing sports, or simply going about our daily lives. It's no surprise, then, that research has consistently shown that maximal and rapid muscle strength is of paramount importance for both health and performance. In fact, muscle function has been identified as a critical predictor of injury risk and mortality in athletic and occupational settings.
But what is muscle function, exactly? At its core, it is simply the interaction between muscle excitation and the available contractile components (such as muscle size and quality). And because the human neuromuscular system is plastic and adaptable, it is possible to induce positive changes through the use of exercise and other strategies. On the other hand, the natural aging process and certain physically demanding occupations (e.g., firefighters, law enforcement officers) can lead to (mal)adaptation in the neuromuscular system, which may increase the risk of injury or death.
Despite the clear importance of muscle function, researchers still don't fully understand the exact mechanisms of (mal)adaptations that occur. However, by continuing to study and learn more about these processes, we can develop more effective approaches to improving muscle strength and function and promoting overall health and well-being.
The Neuromuscular and Occupational Performance Laboratory (NOPL) is committed to promoting health and well-being by optimizing muscle strength and function. Our mission is to understand the role that muscle function plays in the performance and safety of workers and to develop evidence-based strategies for improving muscle strength, endurance, and overall function. By studying the neuromuscular mechanisms that drive adaptations from resistance training and other interventions, we aim to reduce the risk of injury and improve the quality of life for people of all ages and levels of ability. Whether it's in the workplace or in everyday life, we believe that optimizing muscle function is essential for optimal health and well-being.