Posture: Asymmetric Loads & Uneven Ground

Research Paper Title

Carrying asymmetric loads while walking on an uneven surface.

Background

Individuals often carry asymmetric loads over challenging surfaces such as uneven or irregular terrain, which may require a higher demand for postural control than walking on an even surface.

The purpose of this study was to assess postural stability in the medial-lateral (ML) direction while carrying unilateral versus bilateral loads when walking on even versus uneven surfaces.

Methods

Nineteen healthy young adults walked on even and uneven surface treadmills under three load conditions: no load, 20% body weight (BW) bilateral load, and 20% BW unilateral load.

A Pedar in-shoe pressure system (Novel, Munich, Germany) was used to evaluate center of pressure (COP)-based parameters.

Results

Carrying 20% BW bilateral or unilateral loads significantly increased double support ratio.

In addition, carrying a 20% BW unilateral load significantly increased coefficient of variation (CV) of double support ratio, CV of ML COP excursion, and CV of ML COP velocity.

Walking on an uneven surface significantly increased double support ratio, ML COP excursion, ML COP velocity, and CV of double support ratio.

When carrying a 20% BW unilateral load, unloaded limb stance had significantly increased double support ratio and ML COP velocity, although it appears that the loaded limb may be used to make step-by-step adjustments as evidenced by the higher CV of ML COP velocity.

Conclusions

Unilateral load carriage, walking on uneven surfaces, and unloaded leg stance are of particular concern when considering postural stability.

Reference

Wang, J. & Gillette, J.C. (2018) Carrying asymmetric loads while walking on an uneven surface. Gait & Posture. 65, pp.39-44. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.06.173. Epub 2018 Jun 30.

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