Conference proceedings article

Whole body work in cross-country skiing


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Publication Details

Author list: Holmberg, Hans-Christer

Publisher: Centro interuniversitario di ricerca

Place: Rovereto

Publication year: 2009


Cross-country skiing is one of the most demanding endurance sports. It imposes extensive physiological challenges due to the perpetual changes between, and utilisation of, different skiing techniques, each involving the upper and lower body to various extents. Altogether, the uniqueness of the sport has over the years contributed to significant interest from researchers in physiology and biomechanics in their ongoing ambition to understand more about the limiting factors of performance. Compared to other endurance sports, cross-country skiing is a complex racing form with a comprehensive diversity of locomotion types on various types of terrains and different inclinations. This indicates that, in comparison to other endurance sports, the skier’s aerobic capacity in all the skiing techniques is critical for performance. Maximal cardiac outputs in excess of 40 l min elite cross-country skiers, with maximal oxygen uptake values above 6 l min autonomic nervous system integrates the different regulatory factors of the cardiovascular system during exercise, i.e. blood pressure, heart rate and local/regional vascular resistance. The VO body exercise, than in running, but the difference is small. The slightly higher oxygen uptake is most likely explained by an enlarged oxygen extraction in the periphery and not by a larger stroke volume and cardiac output (Hermansen, 1973). A high central circulatory pumping capacity and well trained upper body muscles are crucial for performance and should be important targets when training.

From a biomechanical perspective cross-country skiing is complex and the two main styles, freestyle and classical, are subdivided into nine different sub-techniques. These are used alternately during a race depending on the physical capacity and technical competence of the skier, the track profile and the friction between the skis and snow. One of the skiing techniques, diagonal skiing, is only used uphill and engages both upper and lower limbs and legs. Elite skiers adapt the DIA technique to increased inclinations through substantial changes in pole and leg kinetics and joint kinematics; the arm and leg actions show larger amplitudes, higher angular velocities, longer poling times, higher forces and impulses generated at higher frequencies.

To achieve a better understanding of different cross-skiing techniques the use of an integrative biomechanical and physiological approach is an important tool in increasing knowledge, thus enabling further improvements.


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