What is the Importance of Hip Musculature to Load Carriage Walking?

Research Paper Title

Lower-limb joint work and power are modulated during load carriage based on load configuration and walking speed.

Background

Soldiers regularly transport loads weighing >20 kg at slow speeds for long durations.

These tasks elicit high energetic costs through increased positive work generated by knee and ankle muscles, which may increase risk of muscular fatigue and decrease combat readiness.

This study aimed to determine how modifying where load is borne changes lower-limb joint mechanical work production, and if load magnitude and/or walking speed also affect work production.

Methods

Twenty Australian soldiers participated, donning a total of 12 body armour variations: six different body armour systems (one standard-issue, two commercially available [cARM1-2], and three prototypes [pARM1-3]), each worn with two different load magnitudes (15 and 30 kg).

For each armour variation, participants completed treadmill walking at two speeds (1.51 and 1.83 m/s).

Three-dimensional motion capture and force plate data were acquired and used to estimate joint angles and moments from inverse kinematics and dynamics, respectively.

Subsequently, hip, knee, and ankle joint work and power were computed and compared between armour types and walking speeds.

Results

Positive joint work over the stance phase significantly increased with walking speed and carried load, accompanied by 2.3-2.6% shifts in total positive work production from the ankle to the hip (p < 0.05).

Compared to using cARM1 with 15 kg carried load, carrying 30 kg resulted in significantly greater hip contribution to total lower-limb positive work, while knee and ankle work decreased.

Conclusions

Substantial increases in hip joint contributions to total lower-limb positive work that occur with increases in walking speed and load magnitude highlight the importance of hip musculature to load carriage walking.

Reference

Lenton, G.K., Doyle, T.L.A., Lloyd, D.G., Higgs, J., Billing, D. & Saxby, D.J. (2019) Lower-limb joint work and power are modulated during load carriage based on load configuration and walking speed. Journal of Biomechanics. 83:174-180. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2018.11.036. Epub 2018 Nov 29.

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