Kinematic and Ground Reaction Force Accommodation During Weighted Walking.

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Weighted walking is a functional activity common in daily life and can influence risks for musculoskeletal loading, injury and falling. Much information exists about weighted walking during military, occupational and recreational tasks, but less is known about strategies used to accommodate to weight carriage typical in daily life. The purposes of the study were to examine the effects of weight carriage on kinematics and peak ground reaction force (GRF) during walking, and explore relationships between these variables. Twenty subjects walked on a treadmill while carrying 0, 44.5 and 89 N weights in front of the body. Peak GRF, sagittal plane joint/segment angular kinematics, stride length and center of mass (COM) vertical displacement were measured. Changes in peak GRF and displacement variables between weight conditions represented accommodation. Effects of weight carriage were tested using analysis of variance. Relationships between peak GRF and kinematic accommodation variables were examined using correlation and regression. Subjects were classified into sub-groups based on peak GRF responses and the correlation analysis was repeated. Weight carriage increased peak GRF by an amount greater than the weight carried, decreased stride length, increased vertical COM displacement, and resulted in a more extended and upright posture, with less hip and trunk displacement during weight acceptance. A GRF increase was associated with decreases in hip extension (|r| = .53, p = .020) and thigh anterior rotation (|r| = .57, p = .009) displacements, and an increase in foot anterior rotation displacement (|r| = .58, p = .008). Sub-group analysis revealed that greater GRF increases were associated with changes at multiple sites, while lesser GRF increases were associated with changes in foot and trunk displacement. Weight carriage affected walking kinematics and revealed different accommodation strategies that could have implications for loading and stability.