The effects of load distribution and gradient on load carriage
Colclough, Shanell L.
Paulo, Eugene P.
McCauley, Michael E.
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The objective of this research was to evaluate the effects of load distribution and gradient on military personnel while wearing a backpack. A secondary objective was to identify anatomical locations most affected during this task, and to verify that one load configuration may not be suitable for all individuals, especially when the activity is conducted on multiple gradients. Participants were asked to simulate the common military task of road marching on a treadmill while wearing a backpack. Load distribution was either high or low and gradient was either level (0%) or a positive incline (11%). Methods used to assess the effects of load distribution and gradient on load carriage were Heart Rate Variability, Regional Body Discomfort Diagram, questionnaires, and Rating of Perceived Exertion. An analysis of each dependent variable: heart rate, Regional Body Discomfort Diagram, and Rating of Perceived Exertion, showed that participants preferred the high backpack load condition and that they experienced more discomfort while walking uphill. According to the questionnaire responses, participants felt the most discomfort on the shoulder and neck areas. The findings of this research have implications for Human Factors Engineering design of backpacks, exercise and conditioning, and the importance of current and routine training.
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