Soldier load carriage, injuries, rehabilitation and physical conditioning: An international approach

Robin Orr, Rodney Pope, Thiago Jambo Alves Lopes, Dieter Leyk, Sam Blacker, Beatriz Sanz Bustillo-Aguirre, Joseph J. Knapik

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Abstract

Soldiers are often required to carry heavy loads that can exceed 45 kg. The physiological costs and biomechanical responses to these loads, whilst varying with the contexts in which they are carried, have led to soldier injuries. These injuries can range from musculoskeletal injuries (e.g., joint/ligamentous injuries and stress fractures) to neurological injuries (e.g., paresthesias), and impact on both the soldier and the army in which they serve. Following treatment to facilitate initial recovery from injuries, soldiers must be progressively reconditioned for load carriage. Optimal conditioning and reconditioning practices include load carriage sessions with a frequency of one session every 10–14 days in conjunction with a program of both resistance and aerobic training. Speed of march and grade and type of terrain covered are factors that can be adjusted to manipulate load carriage intensity, limiting the need to adjust load weight alone. Factors external to the load carriage program, such as other military duties, can also impart physical loading and must be considered as part of any load carriage conditioning/reconditioning program.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4010
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 02 Apr 2021

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