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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 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. I’m currently working with several local organizations that include Prince William County Fire and Rescue, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, the Virginia National Guard and the George Mason ROTC. The common project goals are to reduce injuries through implementation of evidence-based movement and fitness programs. 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.

Related to injury reduction in tactical athletes I'm leading several projects to understand the effects of load carriage, fatigue and other stressors on movement strategies and cogntive functioning. Typos of body-worn load carriage we are currently investigating are law enforcement duty belts, tactical vests and ruck sacks. Particularly I'm interested in individual factors which explain varying responses to load carriage.

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. Martin, J, Kearney, J., Nestrowitz, S., Burke, A., Sax van der Weyden, M. (2023) Effects of load carriage on postural sway in healthy, young adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Applied Ergonomics. 106.
  2. Martin, J., Toczko, M., Locke, E., McCarthy, R., Milani, I., Barrios, N., Koutoubi, S., Ambegaonkar, J., Dhokai, N., Boolani, A. Influence of grit on physical activity, sitting time and dietary behaviors: a multi-study. Sustainability. Accepted December 2022.
  3. Sax van der Weyden, M., Toczko, M., Fyock-Martin, M., Martin, J. (2022) Relationship between a maximum plank assessment and fitness, health behaviors and moods in Tactical Athletes. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19.
  4. Sax van der Weyden, M., Toczko, M., Martin, J. Load carriage effects on cognitive function among military personnel: a critically appraised topic. TSAC Report. Accepted July 2022.
  5. Martin, J, Estep, A., Toczko, M., Hartzel, B., Boolani, A. (2022) Relationships between grit and lifestyle factors in undergraduate college students enrolled in an online class during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of American College Health.  Published online March 24, 2022: 1-9.
  6. Merrigan, J., Burke, A., Oladipo, E., Kearney, J., Marks, D., Martin, J. (2022) Upper Body Push to Pull Ratios in Law Enforcement Officer Recruits. Work. 73(4):1167-1174.
  7. Frost, C., Toczko, M., Merrigan, J., Martin, J. (2021) The effects of sleep on firefighter occupational performance and health: a systematic review and call to action. Sleep Epidemiology 1:100014
  8. Merrigan, J., Stone, J., Martin, J., Hornsby, G., Galster, S., Hagen, J. (2021) Applying force plate technology to inform human performance programming in tactical populations. Applied Sciences 11(14): 6538.
  9. Marks, D., Merrigan, J., Martin, J. (2021) Do Baseline Physical Fitness Measures Predict Law Enforcement Academy Graduation? Work. 72(1):263-269.
  10. Draicchio, C., Martin, J, Fyock-Martin, M., Merrigan, J. (2020) 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 185(7-8):e937-e943.
Courses Taught This Semester
Other Courses Taught