Modifiable anthropometric characteristics are associated with unilateral and bilateral carry performance
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A mismatch between physical ability and task requirements can increase the risk of on-the-job injury. Therefore, understanding key anthropometric characteristics associated with job performance is important in developing targeted training programs and selecting employees in physically demanding occupations. The aims of this study were to understand which anthropometric and demographic (age/sex) characteristics were associated with performance in a unilateral stretcher carry and bilateral jerry can and kettle bell carries. Sixty-seven enlisted Australian Army soldiers (46 men and 21 women) participated in this investigation. Body composition was quantified using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Univariate and multivariable regression techniques were used to quantify correlations between anthropometric characteristics and carry performance. Median carry distance was 650 m (interquartile range [IQR] = 425-1,025 m) in the stretcher carry, 300 m (IQR = 215-445 m) in the jerry can carry, and 265 m (IQR = 200-400 m) in the kettle bell carry. Univariate analyses demonstrated that whole body, trunk, upper arm, forearm, and leg lean mass, as well as stature and body mass were associated with performance across the 3 carry tasks. Of these, leg lean mass was shown to be a key characteristic associated with carry performance. Subsequently, it is suggested that training programs focus on whole-body lean mass with specific emphasis on leg lean mass. Additionally, we demonstrated that age and sex were not significantly associated with carry performance when controlling for leg lean mass, indicating that modifiable factors can be targeted in training programs to improve job performance.