Biomechanics of Nordic Walking

While Nordic Walking does offer less load on the lower body than running, certain walking techniques can increase the load in comparison to walking.

If you have hip, knee or ankle joint issues, please consult with a Nordic Walking instructor in correct walking technique for your condition!


Click on the links below to be taken to the abstracts.

Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick: Strategies to Decrease Dynamic Knee Joint Loading

Excessive dynamic loading of the knee joint, quantified indirectly during three dimensional gait analysis, is a risk factor for the progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA). The overall objective of this thesis was to explore the effects of prolonged walking and the use of Nordic walking poles on selected gait characteristics indicative of knee joint load.

Overall, this thesis suggests that, although biomechanically plausible, patients with knee OA do not naturally adopt gait characteristics or use walking poles in a way to decrease knee joint loads. These findings support the need for future efforts directed at explicitly teaching walking techniques, including the optimal use of assistive devices, to decrease knee joint loading.

Differences in ground reaction forces and shock impacts between nordic walking and walking.

The regular practice of Nordic walking (NW) has increased in recent years, in part thanks to the health benefits described by the scientific literature. However, there is no consensus on the effects of shock-impact absorption during its practice. The aim of this study was to compare the levels of impact and ground reaction forces (GRF) between NW and walking.

During NW, shock impacts and GRF levels increased compared with W, an aspect that should be considered when prescribing health improvement programs.

Nordic walking practice might improve plantar pressure distribution.

The differences between experienced and beginners during normal walking including a 40% pressure reduction on the metatarsal area, suggests that regular NW practice might also have a beneficial effect on plantar pressure when walking without poles.

Lower and upper extremity loading in nordic walking in comparison with walking and running.

Nordic walking (NW) was compared with walking and running (R) with respect to upper and lower limb injury risks.

Compared with R at the same speeds (8 km/h and 8.5 km/h), NW can be recommended as low impact sport with 36% lower loading rates and 59% lower pronation velocities. However, the high wrist accelerations in NW reveal that the upper extremities are exposed to considerable repetitive shocks, which may cause overuse injuries of the upper extremities. Thus, additional preventive exercises for the upper limb muscles are recommended as well as using shock absorbing walking poles.

Inverse dynamic analysis of the lower extremities during nordic walking, walking, and running.

Compared with walking, Nordic walking (NW) exhibits greater cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular benefits. Some authors conjecture that compared with walking or running, NW imposes smaller mechanical loads on the musculoskeletal system. The purpose of the current study was to quantify any differences in joint loading of the lower extremities among NW, walking, and running.

Based on these results, NW is not recommended as an exercise for persons who seek to reduce biomechanical loading of the lower extremities.

Comparison of kinematic and kinetic parameters between the locomotion patterns in nordic walking, walking and running.

Based on a higher cardio-pulmonary and cardio-vascular benefit and a promised reduction of mechanical load of the musculoskeletal system Nordic Walking (NW) shows an increased market potential. The present study should investigate whether there are biomechanical differences between the locomotion patterns NW, walking and running. Moreover possible resultant load differences should be determined.

Consequently it is questionable is NW — based on its promised “biomechanical benefits” compared to walking — should be still recommended for overweight people and for people with existing musculoskeletal problems of the lower limb.

Nordic Walking does not reduce the loading of the knee joint.

The use of Nordic Walking (NW) as a rehabilitation modality has increased considerably. NW (walking with poles) is advocated as a healthy physical activity that reduces the load on the knees. Few studies using the techniques of NW exist, and the findings are contradictory. The aim of this study was to investigate whether NW reduces the loadings upon the knee joint compared with walking without poles (NP).

The present study does not support the statement that NW reduces the load on the knees.

Nordic walking–is it suitable for patients with fractured vertebra?

This article brings the biomechanical analysis of sport–Nordic walking–for patients with osteoporotic fractured vertebrae and shows that it is suitable for them.

They can go for regular walks in easy terrains outdoors with friends and family, and so be liberated from social isolation. It requires only one-off financial costs of buying the poles and special footwear.

Energy expenditure and comfort during Nordic walking with different pole lengths.

Energy expenditure and comfort for Nordic walking with self-selected and 7.5-cm shorter poles and ordinary walking were measured during uphill (12 degrees ), downhill (12 degrees ), and horizontally.

Shorter poles caused greater energy expenditure during uphill Nordic walking, whereas comfort was similar to poles of self-selected length. The substantially enhanced energy expenditure of Nordic walking compared with previous studies reflects the vigorous technique used here.

Mechanical and physiological effects of varying pole weights during Nordic walking compared to walking.

The study investigated the effect of varying pole weights on energy expenditure, upper limb muscle activation and on forces transmitted to the poles during Nordic walking (NW).

Heavier poles have no effect on energy expenditure compared to NW with usual poles but enhance muscular activity. Since there are no benefits concerning physiological and biomechanical parameters we do not recommend the use of heavier NW poles.



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