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24.04.2019 | Original Article | Ausgabe 7/2019

European Journal of Applied Physiology 7/2019

Do poles save energy during steep uphill walking?

Zeitschrift:
European Journal of Applied Physiology > Ausgabe 7/2019
Autoren:
Nicola Giovanelli, Michele Sulli, Rodger Kram, Stefano Lazzer
Wichtige Hinweise
Communicated by Jean-René Lacour.

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Abstract

Purpose

In trail running and in uphill races many athletes use poles. However, there are few data about pole walking on steep uphill. The aim of this study was to compare the energy expenditure during uphill walking with (PW) and without (W) poles at different slopes.

Methods

Fourteen mountain running athletes walked on a treadmill in two conditions (PW and W) for 5 min at seven different angles (10.1°, 15.5°, 19.8°, 25.4°, 29.8°, 35.5° and 38.9°). We measured cardiorespiratory parameters, blood lactate concentration (BLa) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE). Then, we calculated the vertical cost of transport (CoTvert). Using video analysis, we measured stride frequency (SF) and stride length (SL).

Results

Compared to W, CoTvert during PW was lower at 25.4°, 29.8° and 35.5° PW (\( -\) 2.55 ± 3.97%; \( -\) 2.79 ± 3.88% and \( -\) 2.00 ± 3.41%, p < 0.05). RPE was significantly lower during PW at 15.5°, 19.8°, 29.8°, 35.5° and 38.9° (\( -\) 14.4 ± 18.3%; \( -\) 16.2 ± 15.2%; \( -\) 16.6 ± 16.9%; \( -\) 17.9 ± 18.7% and \( -\) 18.5 ± 17.8%, p < 0.01). There was no effect of pole use on BLa. However, BLa was numerically lower with poles at every incline except for 10.1°. On average, SF for PW was lower than for W (\( -\) 6.7 ± 5.8%, p = 0.006) and SL was longer in PW than in W (+ 8.6 ± 4.5%, p = 0.008).

Conclusions

PW on steep inclines was only slightly more economical than W, but the substantially lower RPE during PW suggests that poles may delay fatigue effects during a prolonged effort. We advocate for the use of poles during steep uphill walking, although the energetic savings are small.

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