Influence of carrying heavy loads on soldiers' posture, movements and gait

R.L. Attwells, S.A. Birrell, R.H. Hooper, N.J. Mansfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

135 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Military personnel are required to carry heavy loads whilst marching; this load carriage represents a substantial component of training and combat. Studies in the literature mainly concentrate on physiological effects, with few biomechanical studies of military load carriage systems (LCS). This study examines changes in gait and posture caused by increasing load carriage in military LCS. The four conditions used during this study were control (including rifle, boots and helmet carriage, totalling 8 kg), webbing (weighing 8 kg), backpack (24 kg) and a light antitank weapon (LAW; 10 kg), resulting in an incremental increase in load carried from 8, 16, 40 to 50 kg. A total of 20 male soldiers were evaluated in the sagittal plane using a 3-D motion analysis system. Measurements of ankle, knee, femur, trunk and craniovertebral angles and spatiotemporal parameters were made during self-paced walking. Results showed spatiotemporal changes were unrelated to angular changes, perhaps a consequence of military training. Knee and femur ranges of motion (control, 21.1° ± 3.0 and 33.9° ± 7.1 respectively) increased (p < 0.05) with load (LAW, 25.5° ± 2.3 and 37.8° ± 1.5 respectively). The trunk flexed significantly further forward, confirming results from previous studies. In addition, the craniovertebral angle decreased (p < 0.001) indicating a more forward position of the head with load. It is concluded that the head functions in concert with the trunk to counterbalance load. The higher muscular tensions necessary to sustain these changes have been associated with injury, muscle strain and joint problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1527-1537
JournalErgonomics
Volume49
Issue number14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

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Military Personnel
Posture
Gait
soldier
Femur
Knee
Head
Military
Head Protective Devices
Muscle Tonus
Weapons
Firearms
Weighing
Motion control
Articular Range of Motion
Ankle
Walking
Muscle
Joints
Personnel

Cite this

Influence of carrying heavy loads on soldiers' posture, movements and gait. / Attwells, R.L.; Birrell, S.A.; Hooper, R.H.; Mansfield, N.J.

In: Ergonomics, Vol. 49, No. 14, 2006, p. 1527-1537.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Attwells, R.L. ; Birrell, S.A. ; Hooper, R.H. ; Mansfield, N.J. / Influence of carrying heavy loads on soldiers' posture, movements and gait. In: Ergonomics. 2006 ; Vol. 49, No. 14. pp. 1527-1537.
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