Compared with walking (W), Nordic walking (NW) exhibits greater cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular benefits. Some authors conjecture that compared with W or running (R), 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, W, and R. Fifteen experienced adults participated. Kinematic and force measurements were combined using an inverse dynamics approach to yield joint moments. The results showed no biomechanical benefit of NW. Instead, NW involved greater knee joint loading just after heel strike compared with W. This was due to the longer steps and the higher sole angle during the first part of the stance phase. The sagittal and frontal plane moments were smaller for NW compared with R, but in the transverse plane, the ankle moments were greater in NW than in W or R. Based on these results, NW is not recommended as an exercise for persons who seek to reduce biomechanical loading of the lower extremities.
Stief is with the Orthopaedic Clinic for Children, Aschau i. Chiemgau, Germany, and the Institute for Sport Science, Technical University, Darmstadt, Germany; Kleindienst and Krabbe are with the Adidas Innovation Team, Biomechanical Laboratory, Scheinfeld, Germany; Wiemeyer and Wedel are with the Institute for Sport Science, Technical University, Darmstadt, Germany; and Campe is with the Otto-von-Guericke-University of Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany.