Research in Review of INWA Scientific Committee:
The regular Nordic Walking training reduces tenderness and improves flexibility in selected upper-body muscle groups in female-office workers.
Dr. Andrey Volkov, MD, PhD, INWA Scientific Committee
Journal Article Review:
Kocur P., Pospieszna B., Choszczewski D. et al. The Effects of Nordic Walking Training on Selected Upper-body Muscle Groups in Female-office Workers: a Randomized Trial. Work (2017) Vol. 56, No2, pp 277–283 .
Purpose of the Study:
The aim of the study was to assess influence of 12-week NW training program on perceived pain threshold (PPT) and the flexibility of selected upper body muscles group in postmenopausal female office workers.
For the trial study 44 female office, administrative and academic workers from 4 higher education institutions in Poznan (Poland) were selected at random for the treatment group – NW training program (NWg, n = 22, 54.5±3.7 years) and the control group (Cg, n = 22, 56.7±2.9 years). Authors recruited postmenopausal women because of prevalence of neck pain has reported to be far higher in women than in men (Janwantanakul P. et al., 2008). Because of drop outs 2 women from the NWg and 3 women from the Cg, after the intervention 20 women of the NWg and 19 women from the Cg attended reevaluation.
Procedure or Methods:
The NW group underwent a 12-week Nordic Walking training program: three times a week for one hour. NW training was held outdoor, with at least two NW instructors controlling the technique and regulating the pace. The intensity of the NW was no higher than 70% and no lower than 40% of the heart rate reserve (HRR). The training zone was set relatively low because the study included women with different levels of exercise capacity and the intention of the study was to provide aerobic exercise to relive musculoskeletal symptoms, not to improve capacity.
Participants from Cg were explicitly told not to change their physical activity levels and habits for the period of 12 weeks.
Functional abilities were assessed by the following measurements:
perceived pain threshold (PPT) – kg/cm2;
the back scratch flexibility test (BSFT)
was measured twice for every participant, before the beginning of the training program and 1-2 days after the last NW training session.
The tested muscles were trapezius pars descendens, middle trapezius, infraspinatus and pectoralis major, the disorders of which translate directly into poor upper body posture and which hypothetically are most overloaded during sedentary work.
On final measurement a significant increase in PPT (kg/cm2) was observed in the following muscles in the NW group only: upper trapezius (from 1,32 kg/cm2 to 1,99 kg/cm2), middle trapezius (from 2,92 kg/cm2 to 3,30 kg/cm2), latissimus dorsi (from 1,66 kg/cm2 to 2,21 kg/cm2) and infraspinatus (from 1,63 kg/cm2 to 2,93 kg/cm2). No statistically significant improvement of PPT was recorded in: pectoralis major, triceps and brachioradialis in any groups. Moreover, a significant improvement in the BSFT test was noted in the NW group compared with the control group (from –1,16±5,7 cm to 2,18±5,1 cm in the NW group vs from –2,52±6,1 to –2,92±6,2 in the control group).
In this study, a 12-week supervised Nordic walking training program improves shoulder mobility and reduces tenderness in the following muscles: trapezius pars descendens and middle trapezius, infraspinatus and latissimus dorsi, in female office workers. In this study a 88% improvement in Back Scratch Test was shown. It is probably related to the fact that NW technique requires a dynamic work of the upper limbs and maintaining a greater joint mobility than a regular walking.
The note from the INWA Scientific Committee: Although the authors wrote that the studies to date have never evaluated directly the effect of NW training on pain complains in the neck and shoulder region, the INWA Scientific Committee believe that this is not the case. Each INWA certified Instructor knows that NW improves mobility in upper body and reduces the pain in neck and shoulder region! The first studies was made in Finland by Anttila J., Holopainen I., Jokinen K. 1999 from Medical College of Helsinki. They evaluated the effect of the supervised 12-week NW program (3 times per week, 65-75% of HRmax) for 55 female office workers (average age – 45 years) with pain in neck and shoulders, results of the UKK-2 km fitness test, the electromyography of upper body muscles and showed the improvements regarding the pain in the upper body and neck-region. Karvonen et al. (2000) on the group of 31 people (41-50 years old) who had a neck / shoulders pain and had never practice NW showed the same results.
Blasche, G., Pfeffer, M., Thaler, H., & Gollner, E. (2013). Work-site health promotion of frequent computer users: Comparing selected interventions. Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation, 46(3), 233-241.