Effect of load carriage on spinal compression

Hung Kay Daniel CHOW, M. F. LI, A. LAI, M. H. POPE

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Backpack is commonly carried either posteriorly or anteriorly. Although load carriage has been shown to have significant effects on postural alignment and spinal muscle activity, its effect on spinal loading was not studied. The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of different load carriage methods on spinal loading over time via the measurement of spinal compression. Eight male adults participated in this study. They were asked to carry a load equivalent to 15% of their body weight either anteriorly or posteriorly for 20 min followed by 10 min of unloading. Their statures were measured before load carriage and every 2 min after carrying the load. The sequence of loading conditions was randomized and the participants took a 20-min rest with Fowler's posture for spinal length recovery prior to each testing condition. The amount of spinal compression was found to be associated with carrying duration. Spinal compression during anterior carriage was larger than that of posterior carriage. There was a mild recovery of spinal compression after the removal of the carried load for both the anterior and posterior carriage conditions. Relevance to industry: Short-term putting a backpack anteriorly might be useful for temporarily relieving postural changes induced by posterior carriage. However, prolonged anterior carriage is not recommended. The effects of load carriage on spinal compression should be considered in the design of a load carriage system with load partially or completely positioned in the front. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-223
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


Chow, D. H. K., Li, M. F., Lai, A., & Pope, M. H. (2011). Effect of load carriage on spinal compression. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 41(3), 219-223. doi: 10.1016/j.ergon.2011.03.001


  • Spinal compression
  • Stadiometer
  • Adult
  • Posterior carriage
  • Anterior carriage


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