Michigan Performance Research Laboratory

“From increasing daily activity in older adults to assisting Olympic athletes to achieve new PRs, the Michigan Performance Research Laboratory focuses on optimizing the athletic performance of individuals of all competitive levels. Our research aims to identify the key biomechanical factors that contribute to an individual’s unique ability to withstand injury and perform optimally. We seek to bring the lab to the field, by employing the most advanced body-worn sensor technologies to evaluate the athlete in their natural environment rather than in an artificial laboratory setting. From these data, we develop more effective training strategies, equipment, and screening tools to enable clinicians, coaches, and sport scientists to improve an athlete’s physical capabilities and long-term health."
Dr. Jessica Deneweth Zendler, Director and Assistant Research Scientist

Learn more at http://www.mipr.kines.umich.edu/, which also has information on their assessment packages.

MiPR is featured in two U-M Research videos at the bottom of the page.

Michigan Performance Research Laboratory


CCRB 1213
401 Washtenaw Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2214
(734) 647-0284
(734) 936-1925



Wearable Technology for Health Monitoring and Sport Performance

Wearable sensor technology allows for monitoring movement in an individual’s native environment. These sensors are becoming increasingly widespread and low-cost; they already exist in many devices used daily by millions of individuals, such as cell phones and body-worn activity monitors. We are leveraging this exceptional technology to modernize health monitoring in the elderly and other patient populations and to provide on-field performance assessment for elite athletes. Our work in health monitoring includes developing algorithms to monitor elderly individuals and alert caregivers of a fall or other medical need. In sport, we are seeking to characterize underlying biomechanical indices that drive an athlete’s overarching performance strategy on the field. We additionally are identifying movement characteristics that govern performance degradation over time, such as what occurs in the presence of neuromuscular fatigue. This knowledge will in turn be used to develop powerful on-field tools for performance evaluation, training enhancements, injury screening, and return-to-play assessment for a variety of athletes and sport disciplines.

Biomechanics And Performance Characteristics Of Music Conducting With Different Techniques

We are assisting Courtney Snyder, DMA, Assistant Professor of Music and Associate Director of Bands, to link differences in music conducting style with conductor biomechanics, including muscle activity, and performance quality. See the article, "Studying Movement" in Michigan Alumnus (http://alumni.umich.edu/alumnus/studying-movement/).

Role of Foot Morphology in Adoption of Running Footwear

Since the advent of commercial running footwear, manufacturers, shoe stores, and clinicians have advocated a variety of methods for determining what running shoe best suits an individual. Typically these prescriptions seek a simple classification of the runner’s foot and gait, such as “high-arched” or “overpronator,” to assign a standard shoe to that runner. Recent running research suggest that these methods are too general and miss important factors relating to a runner’s performance and risk for injury. Through this novel research project, we aim to provide a better individual-specific prescription for running footwear through the development of simple yet effective clinical assessments and an improved understanding of how each unique foot interacts with a running shoe to affect the runner’s mechanics and energy consumption.

Pregnant & Postpartum Running Mechanics And Habits

Current medical guidelines for returning to physical activity postpartum provide little to no information on a progression for returning to running. Little is known about female runners returning to running following pregnancy, particularly in terms of running biomechanics, running habits, and overall well-being. A critical gap in developing “return to play” guidelines for postpartum runners is a lack of information about the extent to which differences in running-related characteristics that develop during pregnancy fail to restore to pre-pregnancy levels postpartum. This project seeks to track changes in gait biomechanics, foot and body morphology, general health, and physical activity habits of habitual runners through and after pregnancy. (Join the Research)

Intra-Individual Variability Patterns For Injury Prediction During Running

Novice runners have a high risk of running-related injury. Likewise, runners that change footwear or running technique may experience injury during their transition. With no consistent risk factors currently identified to predict injury, what may be more important is to understand the individual-specific characteristics that enable one runner to adapt successfully while another gets seriously injured. This project involves examining intra-individual variability patterns, which represent underlying gait strategies, in order to explain injury and performance blockers with respect to running.

Biomechanical Planning And Response To Environmental Information During Outdoor Running

The most successful performers are those who can adapt to environmental demands. Furthermore, runners who can smoothly transition into movement patterns in anticipation for an environmental change minimize energy expenditure and spikes in joint loading. The current research on running biomechanics in the environment only provides comparative knowledge rather than examining the preparatory and return patterns to changes in terrain that represent online adjustments and motor planning. The current study aims to determine how runners successfully plan and execute biomechanical changes in response to novel task and environmental demands.

Adaptive Response To Enforced Step Frequency Perturbation During Running

There is limited information about adaptive response to external gait perturbations in the running literature. Adaptation and de-adaptation represent two important functional abilities needed for efficient movement, optimal performance, and injury prevention. Quick response to unpredictable task demands is necessary to avoid traumatic injuries, while efficient return to preferred state is necessary to avoid cumulative stress.  Preferred movement patterns are often associated with minimal energy expenditure and reduced joint loading. Longer time needed to return to preferred movement pattern over multiple exposures during a race or run lead to accumulated time out of preferred state. This accumulation may negatively impact metabolic cost and increase cumulative joint loads, which hamper performance and raises the likelihood of injury. The current study aims to understand biomechanical and individual-specific factors that influence functional adaptability and the consequence of poor adaptive response.