Changes in postural sway as a consequence of wearing a military backpack

Michelle F. Heller, John H. Challis, Neil A. Sharkey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Military personnel are often required to carry all of their personal supplies and equipment for long distances during both training and combat situations, creating many biomechanical and postural challenges for these individuals. In addition to other problems such as generalized fatigue and the development of stress fractures, significant external loads may also affect a soldier's postural sway. The purpose of this study was to assess changes in postural sway as a consequence of wearing a military backpack in females. Forty-three female subjects between the ages of 18 and 25 volunteered to participate. There were two conditions: unloaded and while wearing an 18.1 kg military backpack. Each subject stood with two feet on a force platform for 30 s under both conditions while center of pressure (COP) data were collected. COP path length increased 64%, medial-lateral excursion increased 131%, anterior-posterior excursion increased 54%, and COP area increased 229% with addition of the backpack (p < 0.0001 for all of these measures). These data show that wearing 18.1 kg of external weight in a military backpack increases the postural sway of females, which may in turn increase the likelihood of falls and injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-117
Number of pages3
JournalGait and Posture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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