The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the impact of bilaterally symmetrical backpack systems borne on the posterior trunk on walking biomechanics, as backpacks represent the most prevalent method of load carriage in the military and civilian population. A search of electronic databases was performed for studies that only investigated posteriorly-borne backpack carriage during level-grade walking (treadmill and over ground). Methodology of studies was assessed, and both meta-analysis and qualitative synthesis were completed. Fifty-four studies were included in this review. In summary, the available literature showed that backpack carriage in walking was associated with an increased trunk flexion angle, increased hip and ankle range of motion, increased vertical and horizontal ground reaction force, increased cadence, and reduced stride length. Several variations in backpack carriage protocols could explain between-study variations in results, including: walking speed, backpack carriage skill level, the use of a hip belt, and posterior displacement of the load away from the trunk. The findings of this systematic review will inform backpack carriage practices in the area of injury risk assessment and physical performance enhancement.
Bernard Liew, Susan Morris and Kevin Netto
Bernard Liew, Kevin Netto and Susan Morris
Optimal tuning of leg stiffness has been associated with better running economy. Running with a load is energetically expensive, which could have a significant impact on athletic performance where backpack carriage is involved. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of load magnitude and velocity on leg stiffness. We also explored the relationship between leg stiffness and running joint work. Thirty-one healthy participants ran overground at 3 velocities (3.0, 4.0, 5.0 m·s−1), whilst carrying 3 load magnitudes (0%, 10%, 20% weight). Leg stiffness was derived using the direct kinetic-kinematic method. Joint work data was previously reported in a separate study. Linear models were used to establish relationships between leg stiffness and load magnitude, velocity, and joint work. Our results found that leg stiffness did not increase with load magnitude. Increased leg stiffness was associated with reduced total joint work at 3.0 m·s−1, but not at faster velocities. The association between leg stiffness and joint work at slower velocities could be due to an optimal covariation between skeletal and muscular components of leg stiffness, and limb attack angle. When running at a relatively comfortable velocity, greater leg stiffness may reflect a more energy efficient running pattern.