Comparison of the Spinal Loads Produced by Carrying a Backpack and Carrying a Person Piggyback: Crossfit Training

Sheena Graham, Marion J.L. Alexander, Jeff Leiter, Cheryl Glazebrook, David Telles-Langdon


Background of Study: The piggyback carry has recently become a more popular exercise through the emerging sport of CrossFit. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine any biomechanical differences that exist in the lumbar spine when carrying no load, a backpack, and a person on the back. Methods: Twelve 70+ kg male strength-trained athletes were recruited from local CrossFit affiliates. One child with a mass of 27 kg was recruited to be the piggyback
passenger for all participants. All participants and the guardian of the passenger signed an informed consent form. The participants walked three times over a force plate for each of three conditions: carrying no load, a 27 kg backpack, or a 27 kg passenger. Three Canon video cameras recorded each trial, and Dartfish Software was used to measure joint angles and gait parameters. Maximal trunk inclination angle, was used in a static lumbar spine model to calculate trunk
muscle torque and force, and lumbosacral joint reaction forces. Results: Both load conditions produced compensatory trunk flexion; trunk flexion increased from no load to piggybacking to backpacking. Mean values were determined for each participant for each variable, and these values were compared amongst the three conditions of no load, piggybacking, and backpacking. An alpha value of 0.05 was used. Conclusion: Due to the more extreme position of the trunk and
greater magnitude of torques, backpacking likely places the musculoskeletal system at more risk than does piggybacking.


Lumbar Vertebrae/Physiology, Torque, Weight-bearing, Lifting/Adverse Effects

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