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College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University

Dr. Joel Martin
PhD, Penn State University
Associate Professor
Sports Medicine Assessment Research and Testing (S.M.A.R.T.) Laboratory

Contact Information

Send email to Dr. Martin

Phone: (703) 993-7607
Fax: (703) 993-2025
Email: jmarti38 (

George Mason University
Science and Technology Campus
Katherine G. Johnson Hall 201E
10890 George Mason Circle
MS 4E5
Manassas, VA 20110


Dr. Martin earned his Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University in Kinesiology, with an emphasis in biomechanics and motor control.  He holds an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an M.S. in Kinesiology from the Pennsylvania State University.  Prior to graduate school his undergraduate work was in Mechanical Engineering at SUNY Binghamton.  Since 2016 he has served as the program director for the MS in Exercise, Fitness and Health Promotion degree program at George Mason University. His research interests are focused on improving the health of emergency responder populations. Dr. Martin has been the author a number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals and is actively involved with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He is currently serving on the NSCA Virginia advisory board and the executive council of the NSCA special interest group for tactcial strength and conditioning. Outside of work Dr. Martin enjoys training to improve his own health and fitness. 

Research Focus & Projects

Tactical Athletes

My main area of research is focused on improving the fitness and health of tactical athlete populations (firefighters, police and military). These populations have physically stressful occupations and are a relatively higher risk of injury or other health related issues. The focus of my work is to address the injury and health problems. The first aim is to understand current movement abilities and fitness levels of these populations at various points in their careers. The second aim will be to use movement and exercise interventions to improve their overall health. This work is being performed out of the SMART Laboratory on the Science and Technology campus. Additionally, I have interests in the biomechanics and motor control of human movement.

I’m currently working on several projects. The first is an investigation of health and fitness of tactical athletes in Prince William County. This research focus is being conducted with the Prince William County Public Safety Department. The goals are to reduce injuries through implementing improved fitness programs that target causes of injury and promote a higher exercise program adherence rate. Several specific areas of interest are how baseline fitness, health and lifestyle impact: 1) successful completion of academies or basic training; 2) injury rates during these academies; and 3) long term fitness and health as a professional tactical athlete. Additionally, investigating the relationship between various components of fitness and the ability of emergency responders to perform occupational tasks. Firefighters and WPE as an example. Another project is examining the biomechanical effects of the utility belt on core musculature and postural stability in police officers. In the police force about 60% of all officers will experience lower back pain at some point in their career. Anecdotally, many police officers state that wearing a duty belt contributes to low back pain. However, literature investigating these claims is scarce to non-existent. This project is exploring acute changes in muscle activation due to wearing the utility belt. Due to COVID my students and I are working on several systematic reviews: 1) Effect of load carriage on postural stability and 2) Effects of sleep on occupational performance of firefighters.

Physical Activity

A second research focus is on determinants of physical activity in adult populations and the effects of physical activity on mental health and well-being. One population of interest is college students as the pandemic as altered the lifestyle of students and they now experience new barriers to engaging in physical activity. These effects are commonly reported to be due to the pandemic however a consequence of the pandemic has been a rapid shift to online learning to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While this is necessary from a public health perspective there are unintentional consequenes on the ability to lead a healthy lifestyle. Disparities in physical activity are likely increased in minorities and underrepresented groups. Our work is focused on understanding these effects related to physical activity and addressing using an evidence-based approach.

If you would like to discuss colloboration please reach out to me.

Research Interests

Tactical Athletes, Emergency Responders, Exercise, Fitness, Health, Injury, Biomechanics, Motor Control

Recent Publications

1.   Hautz, A., Erickson, E., Fyock-Martin, M., Turnbaugh, B., Caswell, S.V., Martin, J.R. What do firefighting ability tests tell us about firefighter physical fitness? A systematic review and practical recommendations based on current evidence. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Accepted January 2020.

2.   Draicchio, C., Martin, J.R, Fyock-Martin, M., Merrigan, J. Cross-sectional and retrospective cohort analysis of the army physical fitness test and the occupational physical assessment test in reserve officer training corps cadets. Military Medicine. Accepted December 2019.

3.   Fyock, M., Hulse, A., Cortes, N., Martin, J.R. Real-time gait feedback to treat patella-femoral pain in adult recreational runners: a critically appraised topic. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. Accepted October 2019.

4.   Brezinski, T., Martin, J.R., Ambegaonkar, J. Prospective injury epidemiology in competitive collegiate club sports. Athletic Training & Sports Health Care. Available online February 20, 2020.

5.   Martin, J.R., Latash, M.L., Zatsiorsky, V.M. (2012).  Effects of the index finger position and force production on the flexor digitorum superficialis moment arms at the metacarpophalangeal joints – a magnetic resonance imaging study.  Clinical Biomechanics 27(5), 453-459.

6.   Martin, J.R., Zatsiorsky, V.M., Latash, M.L. (2011).  Multi-finger interaction during involuntary and voluntary single finger force changes.  Experimental Brain Research 208, 423-435.

7.   Martin, J.R., Budgeon, M.K., Zatsiorsky, V.M., Latash, M.L. (2011). Stabilization of the total force in multi-finger pressing tasks studied with the ‘inverse piano’ technique.  Human Movement Science 30(3), 446-458.

8.   Martin, J.R., Latash, M.L., Zatsiorsky, V.M. (2011).  Coordination of contact forces during multifinger static prehension.  Journal of Applied Biomechanics 27(2), 87-98.