By Milly Vincent For Mailonline
Published: 23:00 GMT, 4 December 2019 | Updated: 23:17 GMT, 4 December 2019
Bendy bamboo poles really do help people carry more than their own body weight, according to new research.
The primitive technique for carrying loads has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years - and the modern world is finally latching onto it.
It may now lead to better backpacks - and hold the key to making soldiers and emergency workers more effective, say scientists.
Ryan Schroeder, a biomedical engineer at Calgary University in Canada, said the simple method lightens heavy loads dramatically - and we can learn from the people.
The secret is it forces them to adjust their stride - turning walking into a less strenuous exercise.
Flexible bamboo canes enable walkers transporting weighty goods or materials to save up to a fifth of their energy compared to rigid poles. Here a woman's gait is tested as she carries the pole
Mr Schroeder, a PhD student, said: 'These remarkable yet simple tools can potentially reduce energetic exertion and lessen sharp forces on the carrier.'
He's already trying to implement some of the lessons in a novel backpack design.
Mr Schroeder added: 'Westerners are only just beginning to catch on to this innovation.'
Flexible bamboo canes enable walkers transporting weighty goods or materials to save up to a fifth of their energy compared to rigid poles.
What's more they reduced the forces exerted on the shoulders by 18 percent when burdened with half their body weight - allowed them to carry incredibly heavy loads for miles.
An analysis of villagers' motions showed they were subtly adjusting their gait by 3.3 percent - 0.067steps a second.
Mr Schroeder, whose findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, said: 'It doesn't sound like much - but it's