Dr. Jo Armour Smith

Dr. Jo Armour Smith

Associate Professor, Interim Director of DPT Research and Faculty Affairs
Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences; Physical Therapy
Expertise: Trunk; Low Back Pain; Aging; Postural Control; Electromyography (EMG); Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS);
Office Location: Rinker Health Science Campus 224
Phone: (714) 744-7924
Scholarly Works:
Digital Commons
University of London, Bachelor of Science
University of Southern California, Ph.D.


Jo Armour Smith conducted her doctoral research at the University of Southern California, in the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy. Her work with Kornelia Kulig in the Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Lab focused on adaptations in postural control of the trunk during walking and turning in asymptomatic young adults with a history of recurrent low back pain. She then completed a post-doctoral fellowship with Beth Fisher in the Neuroplasticity and Imaging Lab at USC. She examined the neural correlates of impaired anticipatory postural adjustments in the trunk in older adults, determining the relationship between functional organization of motor cortex and anticipatory postural control. In 2015, she joined Chapman University in the Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy. Her current, clinically-motivated research program uses a neuromechanical approach, combining biomechanics and neuroscience, to establish mechanisms underlying adaptations in postural control of the trunk during static and dynamic multi-planar activities in specific patient populations. Prior to beginning her academic and research career, Dr Armour Smith worked for several years as a physical therapist in the United Kingdom and the United States, specializing in orthopedics and dance medicine.

Research Interests:
•    Adaptations in postural control of the trunk in response to persistent musculoskeletal pain, aging, and skill training
•    Mechanisms underlying altered postural control in patient populations
•    Mechanisms underlying improvement in trunk control in response to physical therapy interventions

PT 511 and 511L Biomechanics
PT 643 L Motor Control/Motor Learning Laboratory

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

Bagwell J, Smith JA, Walaszek M, Runez H, Lam K, Peterson J, Katsavelis D. An exploratory analysis of gait biomechanics and muscle activation in pregnant females with high and low scores for low back pain or pelvic girdle pain during and after pregnancy. Clinical Biomechanics. 2022; 97: 105705
Lee S-P, Farrokhi S, Kent J, Ciccotelli J, Chien L-C, Smith JA. Comparison of clinical and biomechanical characteristics between individuals with lower limb amputation with and without lower back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Biomechanics. 2022; 101: 105860
Smith JA, Mais S. The effect of spinal muscle fatigue and psychosocial factors on pressure pain threshold in healthy adults. Pain Research and Management, in press.
Rohafza M, Soangra R, Smith JA, Ignasiak NK. Self-paced treadmills do not allow for valid observation of linear and non-linear gait variability outcomes in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Gait & Posture. 2022; 91: 35-41.
Smith JA, Stabbert H, Bagwell J, Teng H-L, Wade V, Lee S-P. Do people with low back pain walk differently? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Sport and Health Science. 2022; 11(4): 450-465.
Smith JA, Russo L, Santayana N. Fear avoidance predicts persistent pain in young adults with low back pain: a prospective study. Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2021; 51(8): 383-391.
Smith JA, Eiteman-Pang, WK, Soangra R, Ignasiak NK. Adaptations in trunk-pelvic coordination variability in response to fatiguing exercise, Gait & Posture. 2021; 84: 1–7.
Strzelinski M, Brody L, Smith JA, Bronner S. Reliability of a barre-mounted dynamometer-stabilizing device in measuring dance-specific muscle performance. Medical Problems of Performing Artists. 2021; 36 (1): 27–33.
Smith JA, Ignasiak NK, Jacobs JV. Task invariance and reliability of anticipatory postural adjustments in healthy young adults. Gait & Posture. 2020; 76: 396-402
Shih Y, Fisher BE, Smith JA, Powers CM. Corticomotor excitability of gluteus maximus is associated with hip biomechanics during a single-leg drop-jump. Journal of Motor Behavior. 2020; doi: 10.1080/00222895.2020.1723480
Derian JM, Smith JA*, Wang Y, Lam W, Kulig K. Biomechanical characteristics of lumbar manipulation performed by expert, resident and student physical therapists. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice. 2020; 48: doi.org/10.1016/j.msksp.2020.102150
Bagwell JJ, Reynolds N, Walaszek M, Runez H, Lam K, Smith JA, Katsavelis D. Lower extremity kinetics and muscle activation during gait are significantly different during and after pregnancy compared to nulliparous females. Gait & Posture. 2020; 81: 33-40.
Lee S-P, Dinglasan V, Duong A, Totten R, Smith JA. Individuals with recurrent low back pain exhibit significant changes in paraspinal muscle strength after intramuscular fine wire electrode insertion. PM&R. 2019; doi: 10.1002/pmrj.12284
Rowley KM, Smith JA, Kulig K. Reduced trunk coupling in persons with recurrent low back pain is associated with greater deep-to-superficial trunk muscle activation ratios during the Balance-Dexterity Task. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 2019; 49(12): 887-898.
Lee S-P, Bailey JP*, Smith JA, Barton S*, Brown D*, Joyce T. Adaptations of lumbar biomechanics after a four-week running training with minimalist footwear: implications for running-related lower back pain. Physical Therapy in Sport. 2018; 29: 101-107.
Lee S-P, Smith JA, Kimber M, Houk K. Insertion and presence of fine-wire intramuscular electrodes to the lumbar paraspinal muscles do not affect muscle performance and activation during high-exertion spinal extension activities. PM&R. 2018; 10(11): 1192-1197. doi: 10.1016/ j.pmrj.2018.05.00.
Smith JA, Hawkins A, Beuttler R, Grant-Beuttler M, Lee S-P. Risk factors associated with low back pain in golfers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Health. 2018; doi.org/10.1177/1941738118795425.
Smith JA, Fisher BE. Anticipatory postural adjustments and spatial organization of motor cortex – evidence of adaptive compensations in healthy older adults. Journal of Neurophysiology. 2018; 120: 2796-2805.
Smith JA, Albishi A, Babikian S, Asavasopon S, Fisher BE, Kutch J. The motor cortical representation of a muscle is not homogeneous in brain connectivity. Exp Brain Res 2017 Jun 19: doi: 10.1007/s00221-017-5011-7. [Epub ahead of print]
Smith JA, Gordon J, Kulig K. The influence of divided attention on walking turns: effects on gait control in young adults with and without a history of low back pain. Gait and Posture. 2017; 58:498-503.
Lee SP, Bailey JP, Smith JA, Barton S, Brown D, Joyce T. Adaptations of lumbar biomechanics after a four-week running training with minimalist footwear: implications for running-related lower back pain. Phys Ther Sport 2016 Dec 2: doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2016.11.004. [Epub ahead of print]
Smith JA, Kulig K. Trunk-pelvis coordination during turning: a cross-sectional study of young adults with and without a history of low back pain. Clin Biomech 2016; 36: 58-64.
Fisher BE, Piraino A, Lee YY, Smith JA, Johnson S, Davenport TE, Kulig K. The effect of velocity of joint mobilization on corticospinal excitability in individuals with a history of ankle sprain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2016: 46 (7): 562-570.
O’Donnell M, Smith JA, Abzug A, Kulig K. How should we teach lumbar manipulation? A consensus study. Man Ther 2016; 25: 1-10.
Smith JA, Kulig K. Altered multifidus recruitment during walking in young asymptomatic individuals with a history of low back pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2016; 46 (50): 356-374.
Smith JA, Kulig K. Does insertion of intramuscular electromyographic electrodes alter motor behavior during locomotion? J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2015; 25: 431-437.
Sutton-Traina K, Smith JA, Jarvis DN, Kulig K. Exploring active and passive contributors to turnout in dancers and non-dancers. Med Probl Perform Art. 2015; June: 78-83.
Smith JA, Popovich JM Jr, Kulig K. The influence of hip strength on lower limb, pelvis and trunk kinematics during walking and hopping in healthy women. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2014; 44 (7): 525-531.
Jarvis DN, Smith JA, Kulig K. Trunk coordination in dancers and non-dancers. J Appl Biomech 2014; 30 (4): 547-554.
Smith JA, Tuchman A, Huoh M, Kaiser AM, Schooler W, Hsieh PC. Locomotor biomechanics after total sacrectomy. Spine 2014; 39 (24): E1481-E1487.