In Cross-country sit-skiing (CCSS), athletes with severe reduced trunk control are mainly seated with the knees higher than the hip (KH; arm and trunk powered). However this posture is hypothesized to have high risk for lower back and shoulder injuries. Therefore, a new seat was created where the knees were lower than hip and the trunk frontal supported (KL), to improve spinal curvature. Thus, the aim of this study was to examine performance between these two different sitting positions.
10 female abled-bodied elite cross-country skiers (age 25.5 ± 3.8 years (mean ± standard deviation), height 1.65 ± 0.05 m and weight 61.1 ± 6.8 kg) were tested on a skiing ergometer (ThoraxTrainer, ThoraxTrainer A/S, Kokkedal, Denmark) in a 30 s all-out test (WIN), a submaximal incremental test with 3-6 levels of 3 min (SUB), and a maximal 3 min time-trial test (MAX). The SUB and MAX tests were monitored breath-by-breath with a stationary metabolimeter (Quark CPET, COSMED, Italy). Aerobic metabolism and gross efficiency were computed from oxygen uptake, and anaerobic metabolism were estimated from net blood lactate concentrations. Muscle oxygenation saturation (SmO2) in right vastus lateralis (VL) was monitored with NIRS methodology (Moxy Monitor, Fortiori Design LLC, Minnesota, USA).
Higher performance (W·kg-1) was observed for KH both in WIN (KL: 1.13 ± 0.33, KH: 1.40 ± 0.30) and MAX (KL: 0.67 ± 0.14, KH: 0.88 ± 0.19) compared to KL (p < 0.01). No differences were observed in breathing rate, cycle rate, oxygen consumption or aerobic metabolic rate neither in SUB nor MAX. The KH position showed higher gross efficiency and lower anaerobic metabolic rate and minute ventilation. SmO2 was higher for KH compared to baseline bench (12.2 ± 7.2%) whereas no difference was observed between baseline and KL position (3.2 ± 5.5%). During SUB levels 1-4, higher SmO2 was observed for KH compared to KL when normalizing data with baseline bench (p < 0.05).
This study showed that abled bodied athletes perform better and have higher efficiency in KH compared to KL. The position using larger part of the body (joint range of motion and amount of active muscle mass) have higher gross efficiency, lower lactate concentration and lower ventilation, also shown by Lajunen (2014). It was also concluded that SmO2 was higher in KH compared to KL, and thus there might be a smaller risk for injuries in the legs connected to circulation. This study of abled-bodied athletes have the potential to serve as a control for future studies of para-athletes.
Lajunen K (2014). Effect of sitting posture on sit-skiing economy. Bachelor’s thesis, University of Jyväskylä.
21st annual congress of the European college of sport science, 6-9 July, Vienna, Austria