Changes of lumbosacral joint compression force profile when walking caused by backpack loads

Simon S.W. LI, Yong-Ping ZHENG, Hung Kay Daniel CHOW

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Walking with backpack loads induces additional mechanical stress on the spine and has been identified as a risk factor of lower-back pain. This study evaluated the effects of walking with backpack loads on the lumbosacral joint compression force profile in both the magnitude and time domains. Ten male adults geared with anatomical markers and trunk surface electromyographic sensors walked along a walkway embedded with three force plates with no load and various backpack loads (5%, 10%, 15%, and 20% body weight). Lower-body movements, ground reaction forces, and trunk muscle activations were measured using a synchronized motion analysis, force plate, and surface electromyography system. The force profiles of identified gait cycles were predicted using an integrated inverse dynamic and electromyography-assisted optimization model and evaluated statistically. The results showed that as backpack load increased, the 10th, 50th, and 90th percentiles of force profiles escalated disproportionately. However, no significant changes were observed in the timing of the two peak force incidences. Such changes in the compression force might be an indication of the combined effects of the increase in both gravitational and mass moment of inertia of the system (body plus pack loads) when walking with a backpack. Pearson correlation coefficients of the force profiles between the five loading conditions were greater than 0.94. Strong associations between the force profiles at different backpack loads were confirmed. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-172
JournalHuman Movement Science
Early online dateApr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019



Li, S. S. W., Zheng, Y.-P., & Chow, D. H. K. (2019). Changes of lumbosacral joint compression force profile when walking caused by backpack loads. Human Movement Science, 66, 164-172. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2019.04.006


  • Walking
  • Backpack
  • Spine load
  • Gait
  • Force profile