Wearing a backpack could limit physical performance, research suggests

May 15, 2013

Sport and exercise academics at the University of Derby have discovered that wearing a heavy backpack during physical activity, such as that worn by the military on exercise, can significantly decrease performance.

Participants in the study wore a 25kg backpack during a 60 minute walk, and were then asked to run as fast as they could for 2.4km time trial (British army selection standards) to investigate the impact of wearing a heavy load on respiratory and .

PhD student Mark Faghy, who carried out the research with Lecturer in , Dr Pete Brown, said: "Carrying a heavy load presents a unique challenge to the by combining both chest wall loading from the mass of the backpack and restriction from the straps.

"This alters breathing mechanics during exercise, increasing the effort of taking each breath, which causes the respiratory muscles to become fatigued more quickly."

"Compared to the individuals' levels of fatigue and performance on the trials when not carrying a load, we saw a significant increase in respiratory fatigue and a decrease in performance as a result of the backpack"

Dr Pete Brown added: "Effects as big as these could have life or death implications for people on active duties in the armed forces; which is why we are hoping to carry out a larger-scale study on army personnel in the near future."

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4 comments

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neversaidit
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2013
ok, either i'm not getting something important, or they are saying that wearing a 25kg backpack decreases performance on subsequent run..?
"Compared to the individuals' levels of fatigue and performance on the trials when not carrying a load, we saw a significant increase in respiratory fatigue and a decrease in performance as a result of the backpack"
seriously, either they are not making their conclusion clear, or they are retarded. YES WEARING 25KG BACKPACK IS MORE TIRESOME THAN NOT WEARING ONE!
deluxestogie
not rated yet May 15, 2013
In the accompanying photo of a test subject on a treadmill, the backpack is improperly adjusted, causing a significant load on the upper body. Properly fitted, most of the weight should ride on the padded hip belt, with only enough shoulder strap tension to keep the load as close as possible to the body's center of mass.

Working harder to breathe is a clear sign that the pack needs to be adjusted to shift more weight to the hips.

A discussion with the experts at NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School, Landers, Wyoming)--with which I am not affiliated--may serve to clarify your error.
BikeToAustralia
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2013
Optimal distribution of weight helps but nothing makes 25kg disappear. I notice my legs get fatigued from lack of circulation (from the padded belt) when I carry a lot or for a long time. Obviously, less weight equals higher performance, so does training with that much added weight put in all those funny places.
gwrede
not rated yet May 19, 2013
"Scientists studying the spectrum of the sky found out in a world-first: the sky is blue!"

This kind of research has exploded in the last 5 years. I've been following science news for 40 years, and this kind of research did not exist a few decades ago. Such would have been considered utterly embarrassing.

It used to be that you don't even get to publish unless you could show that you're familiar with the field and know the previous research in it. Today people seem to do random research, and then claim it to be something unique.

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