Graduate Student Research Spotlight: August 2021 

Human Performance and Sports Science »

sara ann davidson

Sara Ann Davidson is a Masters student since Fall 2020 in the College of Health Sciences in Exercise, Sport & Movement Sciences, working with Drs. Max Paquette and Daniel Greenwood within the Human Performance Center (HPC) and Musculoskeletal Analysis laboratory. Since working within the HPC and lab, Davidson has become highly proficient in using various biomechanical analysis instruments including 3D motion capture, force measuring platforms, electromyography (measurement of muscle activation), inertial measurement units (IMUs), among other instruments, and has been involved in several research and applied projects to develop her research and applied sport science skills that will help reach her professional goal of working in sport science for a professional baseball organization. 

Her first year of graduate school was funded by a company to test the validity and reliability of their compression garment that measure muscle activity during training. All data collection on twenty athletes has been completed and she is now working on processing and analyzing the data. The use of cutting-edge garments to assess muscular activity in-field will help sport scientists and medical support staff better understand training demands in their athletes. This should help improve training programming to ideally reduce risks of injuries. Davidson also completed a research study focused on understanding the relationship between knee and hip joint motions during common single leg squat tasks and running tasks in injured athletes. All of the measurements were performed using 3D motion capture to assess lower limb joint movements during testing. The findings from this study demonstrate that performing faster variations of the single leg squat provides a better understanding of joint motions related to lower limb injuries in runners. These findings will help clinicians improve their assessments of injury risk factors and improve rehabilitation programs for this population. 

Further, Davidson has led several HPC projects including the assessment of segmental rotation timing of softball hitting with the UofM softball team for which she has competed over the last 5 years as a student-athlete. Along with other graduate students in the HPC, Davidson has also been involved with the biomechanical screening of the men’s and women’s basketball teams using 3D motion capture, force measuring platforms, and strength assessments. These screening tests were developed to understand any movement deficiency in UofM basketball players to hopefully alter training slightly to reduce risks of lower limb injuries. These experiences have been critical for Davidson to better understand the role of sport science with sport teams and coaches. 

Davidson was offered a biomechanics internship with the New York Mets, beginning late July through October of this year. This internship will help her reach her professional goal of working full-time with a professional baseball organization in the future.