Andy Sanderson,

Lecturer in Muscle Physiology/Biomechanics, Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University

I am based within the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at MMU and so I work in the functional area of anatomy. In my job I teach Anatomy to Sport and Exercise Sciences and Sport and Health Sciences students, which means that I have a strong musculoskeletal anatomy teaching focus. I’m often talking about how movements are produced, considerations for biarticular muscles, biomechanics of the limbs and joint structures. Alongside this I use non-invasive techniques like electromyography and motion analysis to research how chronic pain affects the way we use our muscles. I hope that my research will identify differences in the way individuals with chronic pain create contractions, which can be used to develop optimised rehabilitation for the likes of chronic low back pain or chronic knee pain.

My career is just beginning but it has been very interdisciplinary already, which has helped me to understand how these areas can work best together. I completed my undergraduate degree in Anatomical Sciences at the University of Dundee and then after a few months travelling I started my PhD at the University of Birmingham. In Birmingham I worked with a team of physiotherapists who were investigating spinal pain from a variety of perspectives, my research was on muscle activity and chronic low back pain. While doing my PhD I also started to teach anatomy to anybody who would listen! This meant that I taught a range of students from Sport and Exercise Sciences to Physiotherapy to Medical students. The combined skills this gave me with my research allowed me to start my job at Manchester Metropolitan University after finishing my PhD.

My top tip for a career in anatomy is that anatomy isn’t just in the dissecting room! When I started to move away from pure anatomy, I was worried that I would stop being an anatomist. But in reality I still work with anatomy every day by investigating how muscles function in people with pain and my first publication was in the Journal of Anatomy! Anatomical function underlies chronic pain conditions and my background in anatomy guides my work, alongside input from other scientists and clinicians.