Study Shows How You Carry a Heavy Load Matters

Many military personnel have experienced low back pain associated with carrying heavy loads.  While there is data related to the soldier’s posture when carrying heavy loads, there has not been significant data gathered as to the effects of various load characteristics on posture and pain.  Researchers took a group of US Marines and compared MRI scans when they were standing without a load, and when carrying various loads in various weight distributions.

Results showed that when the load was evenly distributed, the lumbar spine posture was not affected.  However, when the weight was changed to an 20 percent/80 percent distribution, the Marines experienced negative effects on posture.  As the load was increased from 22kg to 33kg, this change was increased.  However, it did not increase further when the total weight was increased to 45kg.

This study suggests that it is important to balance the weight when carrying heavy loads.  It is important to note this was in initial study of this nature.  Therefore, the topic warrants additional research to further determine the connection between load carriage, posture and actual injury as well as the “operational efficiency” of carrying loads in this manner.

If you regularly carry heavy loads, talk with your chiropractor about the most efficient and safest way for you to handle the weight while protecting your spine.  If you don’t have a regular chiropractor, you can find one near you at


SOURCE:  “Effect of Load Magnitude and Distribution on Lumbar Spine Posture in Active-duty Marines” Rodríguez-Soto, Ana E. PhD; Berry, David B. MSc; Palombo, Laura MSc; Valaik, Emily BS; Kelly, Karen R. PT, PhD; Ward, Samuel R. PT, PhD in Spine: March 2017 – Volume 42 – Issue 5 – p 345–351