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      Exploring Muscle Activation during Nordic Walking: A Comparison between Conventional and Uphill Walking


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          Nordic Walking (NW) owes much of its popularity to the benefits of greater energy expenditure and upper body engagement than found in conventional walking (W). Muscle activation during NW is still understudied, however. The aim of the present study was to assess differences in muscle activation and physiological responses between NW and W in level and uphill walking conditions. Nine expert Nordic Walkers (mean age 36.8±11.9 years; BMI 24.2±1.8 kg/m 2) performed 5-minute treadmill trials of W and NW at 4 km/h on inclines of 0% and 15%. The electromyographic activity of seven upper body and five leg muscles and oxygen consumption (VO 2) were recorded and pole force during NW was measured. VO 2 during NW was 22.3% higher at 0% and only 6.9% higher at 15% than during W, while upper body muscle activation was 2- to 15-fold higher under both conditions. Lower body muscle activation was similarly increased during NW and W in the uphill condition, whereas the increase in erector spinae muscle activity was lower during NW than W. The lack of a significant increase in pole force during uphill walking may explain the lower extra energy expenditure of NW, indicating less upper body muscle activation to lift the body against gravity. NW seemed to reduce lower back muscle contraction in the uphill condition, suggesting that walking with poles may reduce effort to control trunk oscillations and could contribute to work production during NW. Although the difference in extra energy expenditure between NW and W was smaller in the uphill walking condition, the increased upper body muscle involvement during exercising with NW may confer additional benefit compared to conventional walking also on uphill terrains. Furthermore, people with low back pain may gain benefit from pole use when walking uphill.

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          Development of recommendations for SEMG sensors and sensor placement procedures.

          The knowledge of surface electromyography (SEMG) and the number of applications have increased considerably during the past ten years. However, most methodological developments have taken place locally, resulting in different methodologies among the different groups of users.A specific objective of the European concerted action SENIAM (surface EMG for a non-invasive assessment of muscles) was, besides creating more collaboration among the various European groups, to develop recommendations on sensors, sensor placement, signal processing and modeling. This paper will present the process and the results of the development of the recommendations for the SEMG sensors and sensor placement procedures. Execution of the SENIAM sensor tasks, in the period 1996-1999, has been handled in a number of partly parallel and partly sequential activities. A literature scan was carried out on the use of sensors and sensor placement procedures in European laboratories. In total, 144 peer-reviewed papers were scanned on the applied SEMG sensor properties and sensor placement procedures. This showed a large variability of methodology as well as a rather insufficient description. A special workshop provided an overview on the scientific and clinical knowledge of the effects of sensor properties and sensor placement procedures on the SEMG characteristics. Based on the inventory, the results of the topical workshop and generally accepted state-of-the-art knowledge, a first proposal for sensors and sensor placement procedures was defined. Besides containing a general procedure and recommendations for sensor placement, this was worked out in detail for 27 different muscles. This proposal was evaluated in several European laboratories with respect to technical and practical aspects and also sent to all members of the SENIAM club (>100 members) together with a questionnaire to obtain their comments. Based on this evaluation the final recommendations of SENIAM were made and published (SENIAM 8: European recommendations for surface electromyography, 1999), both as a booklet and as a CD-ROM. In this way a common body of knowledge has been created on SEMG sensors and sensor placement properties as well as practical guidelines for the proper use of SEMG.
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            Biomechanical analysis of double poling in elite cross-country skiers.

            To further the understanding of double poling (DP) through biomechanical analysis of upper and lower body movements during DP in cross-country (XC) skiing at racing speed. Eleven elite XC skiers performed DP at 85% of their maximal DP velocity (V85%) during roller skiing at 1 degrees inclination on a treadmill. Pole and plantar ground reaction forces, joint angles (elbow, hip, knee, and ankle), cycle characteristics, and electromyography (EMG) of upper and lower body muscles were analyzed. 1) Pole force pattern with initial impact force peak and the following active force peak (PPF) correlated to V85%, (r = 0.66, P < 0.05); 2) active flexion-extension pattern in elbow, hip, knee, and ankle joints with angle minima occurring around PPF, correlated to hip angle at pole plant (r = -0.89, P < 0.01), minimum elbow angle (r = -0.71), and relative poling time (r = -0.72, P < 0.05); 3) two different DP strategies (A and B), where strategy A (best skiers) was characterized by higher angular elbow- and hip-flexion velocities, smaller minimum elbow (P < 0.01) and hip angles (P < 0.05), and higher PPF (P < 0.05); 4) EMG activity in trunk and hip flexors, shoulder, and elbow extensors, and several lower body muscles followed a specific sequential pattern with changing activation levels; and 5) EMG activity in lower body muscles showed DP requires more than upper body work. DP was found to be a complex movement involving both the upper and lower body showing different strategies concerning several biomechanical aspects. Future research should further investigate the relationship between biomechanical and physiological variables and elaborate training models to improve DP performance.
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              Energy cost and muscular activity required for propulsion during walking.

              We reasoned that with an optimal aiding horizontal force, the reduction in metabolic rate would reflect the cost of generating propulsive forces during normal walking. Furthermore, the reductions in ankle extensor electromyographic (EMG) activity would indicate the propulsive muscle actions. We applied horizontal forces at the waist, ranging from 15% body weight aiding to 15% body weight impeding, while subjects walked at 1.25 m/s. With an aiding horizontal force of 10% body weight, 1) the net metabolic cost of walking decreased to a minimum of 53% of normal walking, 2) the mean EMG of the medial gastrocnemius (MG) during the propulsive phase decreased to 59% of the normal walking magnitude, and yet 3) the mean EMG of the soleus (Sol) did not decrease significantly. Our data indicate that generating horizontal propulsive forces constitutes nearly half of the metabolic cost of normal walking. Additionally, it appears that the MG plays an important role in forward propulsion, whereas the Sol does not.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                29 September 2015
                : 10
                : 9
                : e0138906
                [1 ]CeRiSM (Research Centre of Mountain Sport and Health), University of Verona, Rovereto, Italy
                [2 ]Department of Neurological and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy
                [3 ]School of Physical Education, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brasil
                [4 ]Department of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy
                [5 ]Departmental Office of Sports, General Council of High Pyrenees, Tarbes, France
                University of Utah, UNITED STATES
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: BP LAPT FS. Performed the experiments: BP LAPT LB CZ HFF. Analyzed the data: BP LAPT CZ LB. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: BP LAPT CZ LB. Wrote the paper: BP LAPT CZ LB EB HFF FS.

                Copyright @ 2015

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                : 30 March 2015
                : 6 September 2015
                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 0, Pages: 13
                The authors have no support or funding to report.
                Research Article
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                All relevant data are within the paper.



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