Effects of external loads on postural sway during quiet stance in adults aged 20–80 years

M.W. Hill, M.J. Duncan, S.W. Oxford, Anthony D Kay, M.J. Price

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of holding external loads on postural sway during upright stance across age decades. Sixty-five healthy adults (females, n = 35), aged 18–80 years were assessed in four conditions; (1) standing without holding a load, holding a load corresponding to 5% body mass in the (2) left hand, (3) right hand and (4) both hands. The centre of pressure (COP) path length and anteroposterior and mediolateral COP displacement were used to indirectly assess postural sway. External loading elicited reductions in COP measures of postural sway in older age groups only (P < 0.05). No changes were observed in younger or intermediate aged adults (P > 0.05). Holding external loads during standing is relevant to many activities of daily living (i.e. holding groceries). The reduction in postural sway may suggest this type of loading has a stabilising effect during quiet standing among older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-69
Number of pages6
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Early online date21 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • Age-related changes
  • External loads
  • Functional balance
  • Grocery bags
  • Postural stability


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