Effects of natural posture imbalance on posture deviation caused by load carriage

Saemee Lyu, Karen L. LaBat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose The purpose of this study was to explore posture deviation variability caused by load carriages depending on natural posture imbalance to provide information about a carrying habit exaggerating an individual's posture imbalance. All people exhibit some imbalance from the standard anatomical pose which assumes alignment with the frontal and median planes. In this study natural posture imbalance is the starting point for determining posture deviation which is posture imbalance resulting from an activity, carrying an item. Methods Seventeen female participants, 19–37 years old, were recruited from university staff, faculty members, and students. Participants were each scanned wearing their own underwear (bra and panties) in: (a) the anatomical pose (P1) face forward and feet placed at shoulder width without carrying an item, (b) carrying a backpack (P2), (c) carrying a shoulder bag on the right shoulder (P3R) and the left shoulder (P3L), (d) carrying a bag cross-body with a strap placed on the left shoulder to place the weight at the hip level on the right side (P4R) and the strap and handbag placed in the opposite direction (P4L), and (e) carrying a bag with the right hand (P5R) and the left hand (P5L). The bag weight was approximately 10% of a participant's body weight. Five body angles were obtained in each scanning position (eight positions total) for all participants and statistical analyses were conducted for posture assessment. Three statistical test methods were used: (a) Paired t-test to determine posture changes in each loaded position compared to natural posture in P1. (b) Paired t-test to identify differences of the degree of posture changes between right-side load (R) and left-side load (L) positions to determine a posture deviation tendency with asymmetrical load carriages. (c) Bivariate (Pearson) correlation test to examine how natural posture imbalance and posture deviation co-vary. Results (a) Asymmetrical load positions exhibited greater changes on shoulder and spine posture than a symmetrical load position, exhibiting obvious changes in P3 and P4 rather than P5. (b) The degrees and directions of posture deviation resulting from an asymmetrical load carriage varied depending on those of an individual's natural posture imbalance. When a participant exhibited great posture imbalance in P1, significant differences of posture deviation on the shoulder and spine between R and L positions were observed in P3 and P4. (c) Significant correlations between natural posture imbalance and posture deviation resulting from load carriages were found for most body angles. Conclusions People need to be aware of their natural posture imbalance and try to avoid carrying heavy handbags or any type of carriages making their posture imbalance worse to prevent possible further distortion. Relevance to Industry Although this study used handbags and a backpack as the load carrying devices, the way a person carries a load of any type is relevant in many industries and in the military.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was conducted in the University of Minnesota Human Dimensioning © Laboratory with a research grant provided by the Department of Design, Housing, and Apparel, College of Design.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016


  • 3D body scanning
  • Load carriage
  • Natural posture imbalance
  • Posture deviation


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