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Hiking poles reduce loading on the joints of the lower extremity

PainSci » bibliography » Bohne et al 2007
Tags: IT band pain, running, knee, leg, limbs, pain problems, overuse injury, injury, exercise, self-treatment, treatment, tendinitis

Two pages on PainSci cite Bohne 2007: 1. Is Running on Pavement Risky?2. The Complete Guide to IT Band Syndrome

PainSci commentary on Bohne 2007: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

For this study, fifteen experienced male hikers walked down a 36˚ test ramp 30 times with poles and 30 times without, and with three different loads: nothing, a light pack, and a heavy pack (30% of bodyweight). A force plate in the ramp measured the intensity of their foot impact, and they were videotaped to get measurements of their joint movement. Consistent with other cited research, the use of poles resulted in significantly reduced forces, movement, and power around the knees and ankles. Interestingly, it didn’t matter how heavy the pack was: “packs only resulted in a larger power generation at the hip.”

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Hiking is a recreational activity shown to offer significant positive effects on the human body. However, walking downhill and external load carriage have both been shown to increase the risk of musculoskeletal pain and injury. The use of hiking poles has been demonstrated to be successful in reducing forces placed on the lower extremities. However, whether these effects can be observed with load carriage has not been examined.

PURPOSE: The purpose of this research was to examine the effectiveness of pole use in hiking downhill while carrying different external loads.

METHODS: Fifteen experienced male hikers volunteered. Conditions included hiking with and without the use of hiking poles for each of three backpack conditions (no pack, day pack (15% BW), and large expedition pack (30% BW). Ten trials were completed for each condition, for a total of 60 trials per participant. All conditions were performed in a random order. The net joint moments and power at the ankle, knee, and hip, as well as the net joint forces at the knee were examined statistically using a 2 x 3 (poles x packs) repeated-measures ANOVA, with a family wise alpha level of 0.05.

RESULTS: A significant reduction was observed for the sagittal plane moment at each of the joints in the lower extremity with pole use. Reductions were also observed in the peak power absorption for the ankle and knee. These results held true across pack conditions, as packs only resulted in a larger power generation at the hip.

CONCLUSION: A reduction in the forces, moments, and power around the joint, with the use of poles, will help reduce the loading on the joints of the lower extremity.

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