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Ergonomics. 2000 Mar;43(3):293-309.

Biomechanical and metabolic effects of varying backpack loading on simulated marching.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Louisville, KY 40292, USA.


Twelve healthy, male Army recruits performed three, 40-min treadmill marches at 6 km/h, under three load carriage conditions: 0%-body weight (BW) backpack load, 15%-BW load and 30%-BW load. Kinematic and kinetic data were obtained, immediately before and after each treadmill march, for computing ankle, knee and hip joint rotations and moments. Metabolic data (oxygen uptake (VO2), expired ventilation (VE), respiratory exchange ratio (RER)), heart rate (HR) and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were collected continuously during marching. Significant differences (p < or = 0.05) were observed between each load for VO2, HR and VE throughout the marches. At 40 min, relative energy costs for 0%-BW, 15%-BW and 30%-BW loads were 30, 36 and 41% VO2max, respectively. RPE responses during marching significantly differed for only the 30%-BW load and were greater than responses at 0%-BW and 15%-BW loads. During load carriage trials prior to treadmill marches (pre-march), peaks in internal, hip extension, knee extension and ankle plantar flexion moments increased with increasing backpack load. Relative to 0%-BW load, percentage increases in knee moments, due to 15%-BW and 30%-BW loads, pre-march, were substantially larger than the percentage increases for hip extension and plantar flexion moments, pre-march. Pre-march and post-march peaks in hip extension and ankle plantar flexion moments were similar with all loads, while notable pre-march to post-march declines were observed for knee extension moment peaks, at 15%-BW and 30%-BW load. Pre-march joint loading data suggests that the knee may be effecting substantial compensations during backpack loaded marching, perhaps to attenuate shock or reduce load elsewhere. Post-march kinetic data (particularly at 15%-BW and 30%-BW load), however, indicates that such knee mechanics were not sustained and suggests that excessive knee extensor fatigue may occur prior to march end, even though overall metabolic responses, at 15%-BW and 30%-BW load, remained within generally recommended limits to prevent fatigue during prolonged work.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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