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During group marches, soldiers must walk in step with one another at the same imposed cadence. The literature suggests that shorter trainees may be more susceptible to injury due to overstriding that can occur when taller recruits dictate marching cadence. This study assessed the effects of fixed cadence simulated marching at cadences above and below preferred step rate (PSR) on lower extremity joint mechanics in individuals who were unaccustomed to marching. During three separate visits, 13 volunteers walked with a 20 kg load on a force-sensing treadmill at self-selected PSR, PSR+15% (shorter strides), and PSR–15% (longer strides) at 1.3 m/s for 60 min. Two-way RM ANOVAs (cadence by time) were performed during the stance phase. Ranges of motion and anteroposterior ground reaction force increased significantly as cadence decreased (P < .03). Knee extension moment increased slightly when step rate decreased from PSR+15% (shortest strides, 0.85 ± 0.2 N m/kg) to PSR (0.87 ± 0.3 N m/kg, 3% increase); however, this increase was substantially greater (20% increase) when cadence was decreased from PSR to PSR–15% (longest strides, 1.09 ± 0.3 N m/kg). Our results indicate that overstriding during fixed-cadence marching is a factor that can substantially increase mechanical stress on lower extremity joints.
Joseph F. Seay (Corresponding Author), Peter N. Frykman, Shane G. Sauer, and David J. Gutekunst are with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA.