Military Training: Load Carriage Performance & Reducing the Risk of Injury

Research Paper Title

The effect of training on lumbar spine posture and intervertebral disc degeneration in active-duty [US] Marines.

Background

Military training aims to improve load carriage performance and reduce risk of injuries. Data describing the lumbar spine (LS) postural response to load carriage throughout training are limited. The researchers hypothesised that training would reduce the LS postural response to load.

Methods

The LS posture of 27 Marines was measured from upright MR images: with and without load (22.6 kg) at the beginning, middle, and end of School of Infantry (SOI) training. Disc degeneration was graded at L5-S1.

Results

No changes in posture and disc degeneration were found throughout training. During load carriage the LS became less lordotic and the sacrum more horizontal. Marines with disc degeneration had larger sacral postural perturbations in response to load.

Conclusions

The researchers findings suggest that the postural response to load is defined more by the task needs than by the physical condition of the Marine.

Practitioner Summary

The effect of military training on lumbar spine posture is unknown. The lumbar posture of 27 Marines was measured from upright MR images, with and without load throughout infantry training. No changes in posture or IVD degeneration were found across training. Marines with degeneration at the L5-S1 level had larger sacral postural perturbations in response to load.

Reference

Rodriguez-Soto, A.E., Berry, D.B., Jaworski, R., Jensen, A., Chung, C.B., Niederberger, B., Qadir, A., Kelly, K.R. & Ward, S.R. (2016) The Effect of Training on Lumbar Spine Posture and Intervertebral Disc Degeneration in Active-duty Marines. Ergonomics. 2016 Nov 28:1-9. [Epub ahead of print].

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