Basic science and mechanistic research deals with uncovering physiological mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal function of the human body. Within this branch of research the mechanisms of action for treatments are also studied.

The pathophysiology behind most musculoskeletal pain is not well understood. This is unfortunate because an understanding of underlying mechanisms is a prerequisite for designing preventive efforts and effective treatments that will target these mechanisms. Fundamental to many conservative treatments is the concept that altered or diminished function in the muscles and/or joints and that such dysfunction must be corrected and returned to normal in order for the condition to improve. However as long as normal function and normal variations are poorly understood it is difficult to define dysfunction and to operationalize this concept in evidence based clinical settings.

At the Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics unique opportunities for collaboration between scientists with clinical backgrounds and basic science/physiology backgrounds exist. Such collaborations within the areas of biomechanics and muscle physiology has already yielded good results and because new research facilities containing state of the art laboratory and clinical facilities will be finished in 2012, opportunities for combining clinical studies with physiological measurements will be strengthened. Furthermore, scientists in the research unit have a well developed national and international network of collaborators that will facilitate such research endeavours.

Specifically, we will

  • Investigate how regional and segmental spinal motion relate to normal and abnormal spinal function, pain and functional limitation
  • Study the contractile abilities of muscles in the neck and how these relate to neck pain and headache and the presence of myofascial trigger points
  • Determine how commonly used conservative treatments such as manipulation, dry-needling, and exercise affect pain, spinal motion, and muscle function
  • Participate in the development and validation of new technologies that will provide specific feed back to patients about biomechanics and muscle function
  • Use MRI to study factors that affect muscle growth and degeneration in teenagers
  • Investigate how specific genetic patterns and candidate genes influence the development of spinal abnormalities and disc degeneration