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.
Research Question 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.
Significance Unilateral load carriage, walking on uneven surfaces, and unloaded leg stance are of particular concern when considering postural stability.
This article is published as Wang, J., Gillette, J.C., Carrying asymmetric loads while walking on an uneven surface. Gait & Posture. 65(2018); 39-44. Doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.06.173. Posted with permission.