Evaluation of load carriage systems used by active duty police officers: Relative effects on walking patterns and perceived comfort

Appl Ergon. 2016 Mar:53 Pt A:36-43. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2015.08.007. Epub 2015 Sep 5.


Objectives: This study aimed to examine the effects of two different load carriage systems on gait kinematics, temporospatial gait parameters and self-reported comfort in Swedish police.

Methods: 21 active duty police officers were recruited for this crossover study design. Biomechanical and self-report data was collected on two testing occasions. On occasion 1, three dimensional kinematic data was collected while police wore a/no equipment (control), b/their standard issues belt and ballistic protection vest and c/a load bearing vest with ballistic protection vest. Police then wore the load bearing vest for a minimum of 3 months before the second testing occasion.

Results: The load bearing vest was associated with a significant reduction in range of motion of the trunk, pelvis and hip joints. Biomechanical changes associated with the load bearing vest appeared to reduce with increased wear time. In both the standard issue belt condition and the load bearing vest condition, police walked with the arms held in a significantly greater degree of abduction. Self-report data indicated a preference for the load bearing vest.

Conclusion: The two load carriage designs tested in this study were found to significantly alter gait kinematics. The load bearing vest design was associated with the greatest number of kinematic compensations however these reduced over time as police became more accustomed to the design. Results from this study do not support selection of one load carriage design over the other and providing individuals with the option to choose a load carriage design is considered appropriate.

Keywords: Biomechanics; Equipment; Ergonomics; Kinematics; Law enforcement; Load bearing vest; Musculoskeletal disorders; Temporospatial.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Hip Joint / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pelvis / physiology
  • Police*
  • Protective Clothing*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Self Report
  • Torso / physiology
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing*