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Foot Marching, Load Carriage, and Injury Risk

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Technical Report,16 Jun 2016,16 Jun 2016

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Army Public Health Center Aberdeen Proving Ground - Edgewood Area United States

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PURPOSE This document summarizes current literature regarding injuries associated with foot marching and operational military tasks such as patrolling that require Soldiers to carry heavy loads of equipment and supplies. These are often referred to as load-carriage injuries in scientific literature. Other terms used by the Army to describe activities associated with load-carriage injuries include ruck marches, forced marches, loaded marches, road marches, and patrolling. BACKGROUND In recent operations Soldiers have frequently carried loads weighing over 100 pounds. These weights exceed guidelines for optimal military performance thresholds for combat operations 20 to 30 body weight and sustained non-contact operations 45 body weight. Heavy loads carried on the body have been shown to increase the energy cost of locomotion, lead to more rapid fatigue, alter the mechanics of walking, and place stresses on the musculoskeletal system. These factors increase Soldiers risk of developing a variety of injuries related to foot march training and operational military tasks such as patrolling. Military leaders, medical providers, and Soldiers have expressed increasing interest in learning about preventing these foot marching related injuries. RESULTS This paper provides recommended prevention strategies and guidelines that are best supported by the available evidence. As there still remain notable data gaps regarding exposures and effective means to reduce these injuries, this paper also provides specific recommendations for future study design, data collection, and for routine military documentation of Soldier foot marching exposures frequencies, amount of weights, durationsdistances, and speeds.

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