How do load carriage and walking speed influence trunk coordination and stride parameters?

M LaFiandra, R C Wagenaar, K G Holt, J P Obusek
Journal of Biomechanics 2003, 36 (1): 87-95
To determine the effects of load carriage and walking speed on stride parameters and the coordination of trunk movements, 12 subjects walked on a treadmill at a range of walking speeds (0.6-1.6 m s(-1)) with and without a backpack containing 40% of their body mass. It was hypothesized that compared to unloaded walking, load carriage decreases transverse pelvic and thoracic rotation, the mean relative phase between pelvic and thoracic rotations, and increases hip excursion. In addition, it was hypothesized that these changes would coincide with a decreased stride length and increased stride frequency. The findings supported the hypotheses. Dimensionless analyses indicated that there was a significantly larger contribution of hip excursion and smaller contribution of transverse plane pelvic rotation to increases in stride length during load carriage. In addition, there was a significant effect of load carriage on the amplitudes of transverse pelvic and thoracic rotation and the relative phase of pelvic and thoracic rotation. It was concluded that the shorter stride length and higher stride frequency observed when carrying a backpack is the result of decreased pelvic rotation. During unloaded walking, increases in pelvic rotation contribute to increases in stride length with increasing walking speed. The decreased pelvic rotation during load carriage requires an increased hip excursion to compensate. However, the increase in hip excursion is insufficient to fully compensate for the observed decrease in pelvis rotation, requiring an increase in stride frequency during load carriage to maintain a constant walking speed.

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