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David Michael Morris and Rebecca Susan Shafer

The authors sought to compare power output at blood lactate threshold, maximal lactate steady state, and pH threshold with the average power output during a simulated 20-km time trial assessed during cycle ergometry. Participants (N = 13) were trained male and female cyclists and triathletes, all permanent residents at moderate altitude (1,525–2,225 m). Testing was performed at 1,525 or 1,860 m altitude. Power outputs were determined during a simulated 20-km time trial (PTT), at blood pH threshold (PpHT), at maximal lactate steady state (PMLSS), and at blood lactate threshold determined by 2 methods: the highest power output that did not result in consecutive and continued increases in blood lactate concentrations from exercising baseline (PLT) and the highest power output that did not result in consecutive and continued increases of ≥1 mmol/L in blood lactate concentrations from exercising baseline (PLT1). PLT, PLT1, and PMLSS were all significantly lower than PpHT (p < .05) and PTT (p < .05). No significant difference was observed between PpHT and PTT (p > .05). Significant correlations were observed between each of the metabolic variables, PLT, PLT1, PMLSS, and PpHT, compared with PTT (p < .05). The authors conclude that, of the 4 metabolic variables, only PpHT offered an accurate reflection of PTT.

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Bernard Liew, Susan Morris and Kevin Netto

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.

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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.