Soldier-Relevant Body Borne Loads Increase Knee Joint Contact Force During a Run-to-Stop Maneuver

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The purpose of this study was to understand the effects of load carriage on human performance, specifically during a run-to-stop (RTS) task. Using OpenSim analysis tools, knee joint contact force, grounds reaction force, leg stiffness and lower extremity joint angles and moments were determined for nine male military personnel performing a RTS under three load configurations (light, ~6 kg, medium, ~20 kg, and heavy, ~40 kg). Subject-based means for each biomechanical variable were submitted to repeated measures ANOVA to test the effects of load. During the RTS, body borne load significantly increased peak knee joint contact force by 1.2 BW (p=0.002) ground reaction forces by 0.6 BW and 0.3 BW, respectively. Body borne load also had a significant effect on hip (p=0.026) posture with the medium load and knee (p=0.046) posture with the heavy load. With the heavy load, participants exhibited a substantial, albeit non-significant increase in leg stiffness (p=0.073 and d=0.615). Increases in joint contact force exhibited during the RTS were primarily due to greater GRFs that impact the soldier with each incremental addition of body borne load. The stiff leg, extended knee and large braking force the soldiers exhibited with the heavy load suggests their injury risk may be greatest with that specific load configuration. Further work is needed to determine if the biomechanical profile exhibited with the heavy load configuration translates to unsafe shear forces at the knee joint and consequently, a higher likelihood of injury.