Postgraduate Research Opportunity

Muscle force control as a predictor of balance


Title: Muscle force control as a predictor of balance

Funding: We regret that we are not currently able to offer funding for this studentship.

Application deadline: 31st July 2022.

Start date: October 2022.

Duration: 1 year (full time)

Location: Colchester Campus.

Based in: School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences

This studentship is now closed to applications. Please view our other opportunities.


Muscle force output is characterised by constant fluctuations, which have traditionally been quantified during targeted isometric contractions according to their magnitude.

A low magnitude of force fluctuations (i.e. greater steadiness) is correlated with better performance in a variety of activities of daily living, including static balance (measured as postural sway). The importance of force control is illustrated by the fact that it is often more strongly associated with performance of activities of daily living than maximal strength.

Fluctuations in muscle force have recently started to also be quantified according to their temporal structure, or “complexity”. The complexity of force output is believed to reflect the ability to rapidly and accurately adapt force in response to task demands. It has been suggested that both the magnitude and complexity of force fluctuations should be quantified when investigating force control and its influence on performance of activities of daily living.

A recent study has been the first to demonstrate a relationship between force complexity and performance of an activity of daily living, finding of knee extensor force complexity to be correlated with dynamic balance. Moreover, this correlation was stronger than for the relationship between the magnitude of force fluctuations and dynamic balance.

This project

The purpose of this project is to conduct a series of studies extending this initial observation of a relationships between muscle force complexity and balance.

This will involve firstly, investigating the contribution of muscle force complexity to static balance and secondly, investigating muscle force complexity in other muscle groups and their contribution to dynamic balance. This will involve a variety of advanced physiological techniques, including isokinetic dynamometry and force plates.


How to apply

You can apply for this postgraduate research opportunity online

You will need to upload the following documents:

  • Research proposal of no more than 600 words, outlining suggested research focus(es), approach(es) and/or studies that applicants would be interested to include within their MSD.
  • CV
  • Covering letter
  • Transcripts of any undergraduate or masters qualifications.

Applications must be submitted by 31st July 2022. The successful candidate will start in October 2022.

Instruction to applicants

When you apply online you will be prompted to fill out several boxes in the form:

  • For "Course title" please select "MSc (by Dissertation) Sport and Exercise Science".
  • For "Proposed research topic or area of research" please put the title of this studentship “Muscle force control as a predictor of balance”.
  • For "If you have contacted a potential supervisor..." please put the name of the Essex supervisor (Dr Jamie Pethick).

If you have any informal queries about this opportunity please email Dr Jamie Pethick (