The objective of this study was to determine the main and interactive effects of load carriage and fatigue on gait characteristics. Twelve young male participants were recruited in this study. Fatiguing protocol involved a running exercise, and fatigue was considered to be induced when the participants first gave an RPE rating at or above 17. Gait data were collected when the participants walked on a medical treadmill at their self-selected comfortable speed, both before and right after the fatiguing exercise. Different back-carrying loads (i.e. 0, 7.5, and 15. kg) were applied separately to the participants during the walking trials. Gait variability measures and kinematic measures were used to quantify gait characteristics. The results showed that gait width variability, hip range of motion, and trunk range of motion increased with fatigue and with the application of the heavy load. These findings suggest that both fatigue and load carriage compromise gait. Findings from this study can help better understand how fatigue and load carriage affect gait, and further aid in developing interventions that are able to minimize fall risks especially with the application of fatigue and/or external load. (copyright) 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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