Jaap van Dieën

Jaap van Dieën

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Van der Boechorststraat 9, 1081 BT Amsterdam
room A622
+31 20 59 88501

General Interests

My research concentrates on the effects of ageing, musculoskeletal and neurological disorders on human movement. The goal is to contribute to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation with respect to musculoskeletal and movement disorders, by increasing our understanding of movement-related causes and consequences of these disorders and related impairments. I aim to translate fundamental insights into clinically applicable procedures and to develop measurement tools that can be used outside the laboratory context.


I have supervised over 40 PhD students and have (co-) authored over 400 papers in international scientific journals and have been an editor of the European Journal of Applied Physiology and section editor of Human Movement Sciences and serve on several editorial boards currently.

Current Research

Currently my research is centered around four themes: 1) control of trunk posture and movement, 2) balance control, 3) gait stability, and 4) the development of clinically applicable algorithms and instrumentation.


I obtained my PhD from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, based on thesis entitled ” Functional Load of the Low Back”, supervised by prof.dr. Rients Rozendal and dr. Huub Toussaint. I have been affiliated to the former now Faculty now Department of Human Movement Sciences of this university since 1996. I was appointed as full professor in 2002 and became head of the department in 2016. Initially my research focussed on ergonomics and occupational biomechanics. Over the years, my focus has shifted towards balance and postural control in relation to ageing and clinical applications.

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  • Balance testing

    In this project we aim to develop outcome measures of static single leg balance tests and dynamic single leg landing tasks to evaluate sensorimotor control, more specifically the ability of an individual to stabilize posture, suitable for large-scale assessment of performance and injury risk in athletes, and for evaluation of recovery after injury
  • Biomechanics of ballistic whole-body movement in elite athletes

    In this project we aim to understand the motor control strategy during ballistic sports actions and the function of the joints and muscles involved. Specifically, we investigate the full-body 3D kinematics and kinetics of top level hockey players during performance of the drag-push, and the diving save of top level goal keepers in football. Results ...
  • Energetics of Locomotion

    Humans usually walk in a way that is energetically optimal. However, small changes to the gait pattern, such as alterations in arm swing, step length, or step width, change the metabolic energy required for walking. In this project we investigate how these small changes affect energetic cost of locomotion, and whether we can use these ...
  • Falling: a mismatch between self-perceived and actual abilities in older adults?

    Falls occur when we are exposed to balance threats and do not have the capacity to respond adequately. When our capacities decline with age, do we adjust our behaviour accordingly? Overestimation of ones own capacities may lead to risk-taking and consequently to falls in daily activities. Underestimation, by contrast, may lead to sedentary behaviour and ...
  • FARAO: Fall Risk Assessment in Older Adults from accelerometry in daily life

    In the FARAO project we focussed on predicting falls based on daily life gait characteristics obtained with one-week accelerometry data. Our system is based on miniature accelerometers (MoveMonitor) and has been worn by more than 300 participants. We found that gait quality measures of daily life gait have added value to predicting falls.
  • Feedback on running style to prevent injuries and enhance performance

    Running injuries are highly prevalent. However the identification of risk factors has shown to be elusive and prevention is not very successful. Loading on the lower extremities is dependent on the training volume and intensity but also on running style. In this project we study the effects of running style on efficiency and injury risk ...
  • Fitness and Functioning after Stroke (FaFaS): Relative aerobic Load of daily life

    This study will provide reference values for the (relative) aerobic load of daily activities for people after stroke. Furthermore, it will assess the impact of relative aerobic load on daily life activity levels.
  • Identification of trunk postural control mechanisms

    In this project, we have developed methods to identify trunk muscle control based on mechanical perturbations of the trunk and measurements of resulting kinematics and muscle activity and a neurophysiological model of trunk control to obtain a better understanding of how trunk posture is maintained in healthy subjects and how this control is impaired in ...
  • Interactions between disc degeneration and multifidus atrophy

    The aim of this project is to understand how the mechanical effects of atrophy of the multifidus muscles, as observed in patients with low-back pain, interact with those of intervertebral disc degeneration. Disc degeneration reduces spine stiffness and may impair control over spine movement. Multifidus atrophy is assumed to result from nociceptive afference from spinal ...
  • Keep Control: Efficacy of perturbation-based gait training in older adults

    The overall aim of this project is to test the potential of the such perturbation-based training by use of a newly developed dual-belt treadmill, with options for fast, ecologically valid trip and slip perturbations, triggered in various gait phases, to improve dynamic stability and prevent falls in older persons at risk for falls.



  • Keep-Control

    Keep Control is an industrial academic initial training network with 12 PhD fellows across the network working towards specific diagnosis and treatment for age-related gait and balance deficits.
  • Move-Age

    Understanding Ageing and Mobility. Funded by the EU as part of the Erasmus Mundus program, this international training network involves 40-odd PhD students studying age-related changes in human movement.
  • Prevent IT

    PreventIT employs current developments in mobile technology to enable active and healthy ageing by developing a personalized behavioral change intervention.
  • Spexor

    Spexor is a H2020 funded project which will deliver novel and effective spinal exoskeletons that will prevent low-back pain in able-bodied workers and support workers with low-back pain who are reintegrating in the occupational setting.
  • Wearable Robotics

    In this “TTW Perspectief” program we are collaborating to develop text novel exoskeletons to support function in healthy subjects performing strenuous tasks and in patients with movement impairments.

Excerpts of scientific work

For the complete lineup, refer to VU Research Portal

Excerpts of scientific work

For the complete lineup, refer to VU Research Portal

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