In the United States, work-related musculoskeletal disorders account for approximately 38% of cases involving days away from work , thus making it an enormous economic and health care burden. A large component in musculoskeletal disorders is acute and chronic contraction-induced skeletal muscle injury . In order to address this issue, there have been extensive studies to-date on acute contraction-induced muscle injury using both animals and humans. Occupationally related musculoskeletal disorders have been associated with exposure to excessive physical loads, repetitive movements, awkward postures, and vibration . A number of different tissues, including skeletal muscles, can be injured by exposure to these various factors . To understand how exposure to these factors results in muscle injury, it is necessary to understand the biological and physiological mechanisms that allow skeletal muscles to generate movement, maintain posture, and support loads. The goal of this chapter is to provide a basic description of skeletal muscle physiology, injury mechanics, and motor control with application to occupational musculoskeletal disorders.
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