The Influence of Pole Length on Performance, O2 Cost, and Kinematics in Double Poling

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Thomas Losnegard
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Håvard Myklebust
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Øyvind Skattebo
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Hans Kristian Stadheim
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Øyvind Sandbakk
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Jostein Hallén
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Purpose:

In the double-poling (DP) cross-country-skiing technique, propulsive forces are transferred solely through the poles. The aim of the current study was to investigate how pole length influences DP performance, O2 cost, and kinematics during treadmill roller skiing.

Methods:

Nine male competitive cross-country skiers (24 ± 3 y, 180 ± 5 cm, 72 ± 5 kg, VO2max running 76 ± 6 mL · kg–1 · min–1) completed 2 identical test protocols using self-selected (84% ± 1% of body height) and long poles (self-selected + 7.5 cm; 88% ± 1% of body height) in a counterbalanced fashion. Each test protocol included a 5-min warm-up (2.5 m/s; 2.5°) and three 5-min submaximal sessions (3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 m/s; 2.5°) for assessment of O2 cost, followed by a selfpaced 1000-m time trial (~3 min, >5.0 m/s; 2.5°). Temporal patterns and kinematics were assessed using accelerometers and 2D video.

Results:

Long poles reduced 1000-m time (mean ± 90% confidence interval; –1.0% ± 0.7%, P = .054) and submaximal O2 cost (–2.7% ± 1.0%, P = .002) compared with self-selected poles. The center-of-mass (CoM) vertical range of displacement tended to be smaller for long than for self-selected poles (23.3 ± 3.0 vs 24.3 ± 3.0 cm, P = .07). Cycle and reposition time did not differ between pole lengths at any speeds tested, whereas poling time tended to be shorter for self-selected than for long poles at the lower speeds (≤3.5 m/s, P ≤ .10) but not at the higher speeds (≥4.0 m/s, P ≥ .23).

Conclusions:

DP 1000-m time, submaximal O2 cost, and CoM vertical range of displacement were reduced in competitive cross-country skiers using poles 7.5 cm longer than self-selected ones.

Losnegard, Myklebust, Skattebo, Stadheim, and Hallén are with the Dept of Physical Performance, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway. Sandbakk is with the Dept of Neuroscience and Movement Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.

Address author correspondence to Thomas Losnegard at thomas.losnegard@nih.no.
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