Nordic walking (NW) was compared with walking (W) and running (R) with respect to upper and lower limb injury risks. 24 NW-instructors performed W, NW, and R trials on a runway covered with artificial turf at controlled speeds. Foot pronation and ground reaction forces were measured as well as shock wave transmission to the right wrist. Comparison of NW and W shows similar results for all of the four chosen velocities (5 km/h, 7 km/h, 8 km/h, 8.5 km/h). Except for the 2nd peak of the vertical ground reaction force, NW results in higher loading rates and horizontal forces as well as higher pronation and pronation velocity values as compared with W. Wrist acceleration values up to 7.6 times gravitational acceleration were recorded in NW. 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.
Marco Hagen (Corresponding Author), Ewald M. Hennig, and Peter Stieldorf are with the Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Sport and Movement Sciences, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.