Effects of prolonged load carriage on ground reaction forces, lower limb kinematics and spatio-temporal parameters in female recreational hikers
"The effect of load carriage on female recreational hikers has received little attention. This study collected lower limb sagittal plane kinematic, spatio-temporal and ground reaction force (GRF) data from 15 female hikers carrying four loads (0%, 20%, 30% and 40% body weight (BW)) over 8 km. Increasing load resulted in a proportional increase in GRF up to 30% BW, increased stance time, and greater mediolateral impulse with 30% and 40% BW. Also seen were decreased velocity and cadence and increased double support and knee flexion when carrying load compared to no load. Increased distance resulted in increased knee flexion and ankle plantar flexion at initial foot-ground contact. It was concluded that, as load mass and distance increased, female hikers modified their gait to attenuate the lower limb impact forces. When carrying 30% and 40% BW loads, however, the changes aimed at attenuating the higher GRF may result in a less stable gait. Practitioner Summary: Limited research has investigated the biomechanical responses of female recreational hikers to prolonged load carriage. This study provides a better understanding of the effects of increasing load on lower limb kinematics, spatio-temporal parameters and the GRF generated by female hikers during prolonged load carriage. The results have implications for the development of load carriage guidelines to minimise the risk of injury to females who carry backpacks and to improve performance for this population."