Dr. James Wakeling

M.A. , Ph.D. University of Cambridge
Phone: (778) 782-8444 (office); (778) 782-8445 (lab)
Fax: (778) 782-3040

Simon Fraser University

  • Professor - Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology
  • Associate Member - Department of Mathematics
  • Associate Member - School of Engineering 

University of Victoria

  • Affiliate Member - School of Exercise, Science, Physical and Health Education

Neuromuscular Mechanics Laboratory

Research Interests:

Muscles are complex 3D structures containing many muscle fibres embedded in a matrix of connective tissue. I am interested in the mechanisms that affect the forces and deformations in muscles when they contract, and how muscles are used to move people and animals.

I studied the aerodynamics of dragonfly flight for my PhD. with Charlie Ellington as my supervisor at the University of Cambridge (1992-1995). The study considered both the flight dynamics and the performance of the flight muscles and resulted in estimates of the power output and efficiency of these muscles.

Postdoctoral work with Ian Johnston at the University of St. Andrews considered the power output of axial muscle in fish and in particular the effect of water temperature and global warming on the muscle physiology and swimming performance (1995-1999).

I investigated muscle responses to vibrations in man with Benno Nigg during a further postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Calgary and during this time I also started studying how different types of motor unit were recruited for different movements by wavelet analysis of EMG (1999-2003)

I took up a faculty position with the Royal Veterinary College in 2004 and directed a series of projects into motor recruitment during dynamic activities in rats and man, treatment and biomechanics of the equine back and muscle dysfunction in children with cerebral palsy.

I joined the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in 2007 where I set up the Neuromuscular Mechanics Laboratory. Within this laboratory we are investigating (a) how non-uniform architecture and activity patterns across a muscle can affect whole muscle performance, (b) how the co-ordination of the many muscles of a limb affect the whole limb performance, (c) how signals from dysfunctional muscles can be used to direct treatments for neuromuscular conditions. We use EMG, ultrasound and MRI to image contracting muscle and have developed many approaches to extract physiological meaning from these biomedical signals. We additionally develop and use a range of computer models to understand how fibres contribute to whole muscle function, and how muscles work together to drive whole body biomechanics.

Selected Publications:

  • Ross, S.A., Nigam, N. & Wakeling, J.M. (2018). A modelling approach for exploring muscle dynamics during cyclic contractions. PLOS Comp. Biol. 14(4): e1006123.
  • Randhawa, A. & Wakeling, J.M. (2018). Transverse anisotropy in the deformation of the muscle during dynamic contractions. J. Exp. Biol. 221, 175794.
  • Lai, A.K.M., Biewener, A.A. & Wakeling, J.M. (2018), Metabolic cost underlies task-dependent variations in motor unit recruitment. J. Roy. Soc. Interface 15: 20180541.
  • Dick, T.J.M., & Wakeling, J.M. (2017). Shifting gears: dynamic muscle shape changes and force-velocity behaviour in the medial gastrocnemius. J. Appl. Physiol.  123: 1433-1442.
  • Ross, S.A. & Wakeling, J.M. (2016). Muscle shortening velocity depends on tissue inertia and level of activation during submaximal contractions. Biology Letters. 12, 20151041.
  • Randhawa, A. & Wakeling, J.M. (2015). Multidimensional models for predicting muscle structure and fascicle pennation. J. Theor. Biol. 382, 57-63.
  • Rahemi, H., Nigam, N. & Wakeling, J.M. (2015). The effect of intramuscular fat on skeletal muscle mechanics: implications for the elderly and obese. J. R. Soc. Interface 12, 20150365.
  • Blake, O.M. & Wakeling, J.M. (2015). Muscle coordination limits efficiency and power output of human limb movement under a wide range of mechanical demands. J. Neurophysiol. 114, 3283-3295.
  • Blake, O.M., & Wakeling, J.M. (2014). Early deactivation of slower muscle fibres at high movement frequencies. J. Exp. Biol. 217, 3528-3534.
  • Wakeling, J.M., Jackman, M. & Namburete, A.I. (2013). The effect of external compression on the mechanics of muscle contraction. J. Appl. Biomech. 29, 360-364.
  • Qi, L., Wakeling, J.M., & Ferguson-Pell, M. (2012). Changes in surface EMG signals and kinetics associated with progression of fatigue at two speeds during wheelchair propulsion. J. Rehab. Res. Dev. 49, 23-34.
  • Wakeling, J.M., Lee S.S.M., Arnold A.S., de Boef Miara, M., & Biewener, A.A. (2012). A muscle's force depends on the recruitment patterns of its fibres. Ann. Biomed. Eng. 40, 1708-1720.
  • Wakeling, J.M., Blake, O.M., Wong, I., Rana, M. & Lee, S.S.M. (2011). Movement mechanics as a determinate of muscle structure, recruitment and coordination. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B. 366, 1554-1564. 
  • Kröll, J., Mueller, E. & Wakeling J.M. (2011). Changes in quadriceps muscle activity during sustained recreational alpine skiing. J. Sports Sci. Med. 10, 81-92.
  • Rana, M. & Wakeling, J.M. (2011). In vivo determination of 3D muscle architecture of the human muscle using free hand ultrasound. J. Biomech. 44, 2129–2135.
  • Wakeling, J.M., Blake, O.M. & Chan, H.K. (2010). Muscle coordination is key to the power output and mechanical efficiency of limb movements. J. Exp. Biol. 213, 487-492.
  • Klarner, T., Chan, H.K., Wakeling, J.M. & Lam, T. (2010). Patterns of muscle coordination vary with stride frequency during weight assisted treadmill walking. Gait Posture. 31, 360-365.
  • Wakeling, J.M. & Horn, T. (2009). Neuromechanics of muscle synergies during cycling. J. Neurophysiol. 101, 843-854.
  • Hodson-Tole, E., & Wakeling J.M. (2009). Motor Unit Recruitment For Dynamic Tasks: Current Understanding and Future Directions. J. Comp Physiology B. 179, 57-66.
  • Wakeling J.M. (2009). Patterns of motor recruitment can be determined using surface EMG. J. Electromyogr. Kinesiol. 19, 199-207.
  • Rana, M., Hamarneh, G. & Wakeling, J.M. (2009). Automated tracking of muscle fascicle orientation in B-mode ultrasound images. J. Biomech. 42, 2068-2073.
  • Higham, T.E., Biewener, A.A. & Wakeling, J.M. (2008). Functinoal diversification within and between muscle synergists during locomotion. Biol. Lett. 4, 41-44.
  • Hodson-Tole, E., & Wakeling J.M. (2008). Motor unit recruitment patterns 1: Responses to changes in locomotor velocity and incline. J. Exp. Biol. 211, 1882-1892.
  • Wakeling, J.M., Delaney, R. & Dudkiewicz I. (2007). A method for quantifying dynamic muscle dysfunction in children and young adults with cerebral palsy. Gait Posture 25, 580-589.
  • Hodson-Tole, E., & Wakeling J.M. (2007). Variations in motor unit recruitment patterns occur within and between muscles in the running rat (Rattus norvegicus). J. Exp. Biol. 210, 2333-2345.
  • Wakeling, J.M., Uehli, K. & Rozitis, A.I. (2006). Muscle fibre recruitment can respond to the mechanics of the muscle contraction. J. Roy. Soc. Interface 3, 533-544.
  • Wakeling, J.M., (2004). Motor units are recruited in a task dependent fashion during locomotion. J. Exp. Biol. 207, 3883-3890.
  • Wakeling, J.M., Liphardt, A-M. & Nigg, B.M. (2003). Muscle activity reduces soft-tissue resonance at heel-strike during walking. J. Biomech. 36, 1761-1769.
  • Wakeling, J.M., Kaya, M., Temple, G.K., Johnston, I.A. & Herzog, W. (2002). Determining patterns of motor recruitment during locomotion. J. Exp. Biol. 205, 359-369.
  • Wakeling, J.M., Pascual, S.A., Nigg, B.M. & von Tscharner, V. (2001). Surface EMG shows distinct populations of muscle activity when measured during sustained exercise. Eur. J. Appl. Physiol. 86, 40-47.
  • Wakeling, J.M., Kemp, K.M. & Johnston, I.A. (1999). The biomechanics of fast-starts during ontogeny in the common carp Cyprinus carpio. J. Exp. Biol 202, 3057-3067.
  • Wakeling, J.M. & Johnston, I.A. (1998). Muscle power output limits fast-start performance in fish. J. Exp. Biol. 201, 1505-1526.
  • Wakeling, J.M. & Ellington, C.P. (1997). Dragonfly flight III. Lift and power requirements, J. Exp. Biol. 200, 583-600.