Priscilla Clarkson to Discuss Human Muscle System at UMass Amherst Distinguished Faculty Lecture

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts exercise science professor Priscilla M. Clarkson will talk about "Muscle Soreness: the Aftermath of Overexertion Exercise," Thurs., March 5 at 4 p.m. in 227 Herter Hall. The event is the third in this academic year’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series, and is free and open to the public. A reception follows the talk.

Clarkson, who has been studying muscle function for more than 20 years, says her presentation will be based on a "tour" of the human muscle system will include discussion of why muscles get sore and damaged due to overexertion, and what treatments work. She says, for example, that ibuprofen and aspirin do little to ease muscle soreness and that sports creams and liniments also don’t work well. The best cure, Clarkson says, is time.

Clarkson will also talk about what might be called "boot camp syndrome" where permanent muscle damage, or even death, can be caused by excessive exercise used as punishment in many military and police training programs. An extreme example of this was the case of a western Massachusetts municipal police cadet who died from overexertion and resulting kidney and liver failure after his first day of training at a state-run police academy, Clarkson says.

The lecture will include slides and visual aides, Clarkson says. "I want to bring people inside the muscle and let them see what’s going on, even if they don’t come from a scientific background. And I want them to experience what happens when the muscle is damaged from overexertion, and then how it repairs itself," Clarkson says.

Clarkson has spent her entire professional career on the Amherst campus, beginning in the mid-1960s, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology and a Ph.D. in exercise science from the University. She is associate dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, and editor of the Journal of Sport Nutrition. Clarkson was a dancer, and then choreographer for the Pioneer Valley Ballet, and is a prolific lecturer and writer on the subjects of muscle function and sports nutrition.

The final faculty lecture in the series will be presented Wed., April 18 by Samuel Delany, professor of comparative literature and well-known science fiction author. Each of the faculty members in the series receives a Chancellor’s Medal following his or her lecture. The Chancellor’s Medal is the highest honor bestowed on individuals who have rendered exemplary and extraordinary services to the University.