The neuromuscular system responds to perturbation and increasing locomotor task difficulty by altering the stability of neuromuscular output signals. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of two different military load carriage systems on the dynamic stability of gait and muscle activation signals. 14 army office cadets (20 ± 1 years) performed 4-minute treadmill walking trials on level (0%) and uphill (10%) gradients while unloaded, and with 11 kg backpack and 11 kg webbing loads while the activity of 6 leg and trunk muscles and the motion of the centre of mass (COM) were recorded. Loaded and uphill walking decreased stability and increased magnitude of muscle activations compared to loaded and level gradient walking. Backpack loads increased the medio-lateral stability of COM and uphill walking decreased stability of vertical COM motion and increased stride time variability. However, there was no difference between the two load carriage systems for any variable. The reduced stability of muscle activations in loaded and uphill conditions indicates an impaired ability of the neuromuscular control systems to accommodate perturbations in these conditions which may have implications on the operational performance of military personnel. However, improved medio-lateral stability in backpack conditions may indicate that participants were able to compensate for the loads used in this study, despite the decreased vertical stability and increased stride time variability evident in uphill walking. This study did not find differences between load carriage systems however, specific load carriage system effects may be elicited by greater load carriage masses.
Walsh, Gregory S.
Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work
Year of publication: 2021Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-07-06
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