Biomechanical Effect of Load Carriage on Spine Curvature and Repositioning Ability in Adolescents

C.X.G. Wang, D.H.K. Chow, and M.H. Pope (PRC)


Spine curvature, load carriage, proprioception, back pain, adolescent


Excessive loading due to daily backpack carriage in schoolchildren has been associated with increased risk of back pain. However, quantitative effects of backpack loading and carrying methods (anterior and posterior) on the spine are still limited. Twenty seven participants, aged from 11 to 15, were recruited in this study. They were asked to adopt a relaxed upright stance with or without carrying a backpack loaded at 15% of their bodyweight either anteriorly or posteriorly. Participants’ spinal curvature and repositioning ability were measured using an electrogoniometric system. Repeated measures ANOVA showed that posterior backpack carriage resulted in a significant decrease in the lumbar lordosis and increase in cervical lordosis, while anterior backpack carriage induced a significant increase of thoracic kyphosis. Repositioning ability of participants’ spine was found to reduce under backpack carriage. Clinical implications of these findings in relation to the risk of increased low back pain in adolescents deserved further investigation.

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