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Role of sex and stature on the biomechanics of normal and loaded walking: implications for injury risk in the military
  1. Niamh Gill1,
  2. A Roberts2,
  3. T J O'Leary3,4,
  4. A Liu1,
  5. K Hollands1,
  6. D Walker1,
  7. J P Greeves3,5 and
  8. R Jones1
  1. 1Centre for Health Sciences Research, University of Salford, Salford, UK
  2. 2Army Recruit Health & Performance Research, Army Recruiting & Initial Training Command, Upavon, UK
  3. 3Army Health & Performance Research, Army Headquarters, Andover, UK
  4. 4Division of Surgery & Interventional Science, UCL, London, UK
  5. 5Norwhich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Niamh Gill, Centre for Health Sciences Research, University of Salford, Salford M5 4WT, UK; N.M.Gill{at}


Load carriage and marching ‘in-step’ are routine military activities associated with lower limb injury risk in service personnel. The fixed pace and stride length of marching typically vary from the preferred walking gait and may result in overstriding. Overstriding increases ground reaction forces and muscle forces. Women are more likely to overstride than men due to their shorter stature. These biomechanical responses to overstriding may be most pronounced when marching close to the preferred walk-to-run transition speed. Load carriage also affects walking gait and increases ground reaction forces, joint moments and the demands on the muscles. Few studies have examined the effects of sex and stature on the biomechanics of marching and load carriage; this evidence is required to inform injury prevention strategies, particularly with the full integration of women in some defence forces. This narrative review explores the effects of sex and stature on the biomechanics of unloaded and loaded marching at a fixed pace and evaluates the implications for injury risk. The knowledge gaps in the literature, and distinct lack of studies on women, are highlighted, and areas that need more research to support evidence-based injury prevention measures, especially for women in arduous military roles, are identified.

  • occupational & industrial medicine
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • sports medicine

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  • Contributors NG produced the manuscript. All authors edited the manuscript for intellectual content. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Data availability statement Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

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