Purpose: To further the understanding of double poling (DP) through biomechanical analysis of upper and lower body movements during DP in cross-country (XC) skiing at racing speed.
Methods: Eleven elite XC skiers performed DP at 85% of their maximal DP velocity (V85%) during roller skiing at 1° inclination on a treadmill. Pole and plantar ground reaction forces, joint angles (elbow, hip, knee, and ankle), cycle characteristics, and electromyography (EMG) of upper and lower body muscles were analyzed.
Results: 1) Pole force pattern with initial impact force peak and the following active force peak (PPF) correlated to V85%, (r = 0.66, P < 0.05); 2) active flexion–extension pattern in elbow, hip, knee, and ankle joints with angle minima occurring around PPF, correlated to hip angle at pole plant (r = −0.89, P < 0.01), minimum elbow angle (r = −0.71), and relative poling time (r = −0.72, P < 0.05); 3) two different DP strategies (A and B), where strategy A (best skiers) was characterized by higher angular elbow- and hip-flexion velocities, smaller minimum elbow (P < 0.01) and hip angles (P < 0.05), and higher PPF (P < 0.05); 4) EMG activity in trunk and hip flexors, shoulder, and elbow extensors, and several lower body muscles followed a specific sequential pattern with changing activation levels; and 5) EMG activity in lower body muscles showed DP requires more than upper body work.
Conclusions: DP was found to be a complex movement involving both the upper and lower body showing different strategies concerning several biomechanical aspects. Future research should further investigate the relationship between biomechanical and physiological variables and elaborate training models to improve DP performance.