Die metabolische und neuromuskuläre Leistungsfähigkeit von nordrhein-westfälischen Polizeieinheiten unter Berücksichtigung der Körperschutzausstattung

Translated title of the contribution: The metabolic and neuromuscular performance of North Rhine-Westphalian police units with respect to wearing personal protective equipment

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The police profession is accompanied by a variety of physical demands that depend on several factors. The type, frequency and intensity are determined not only by the unit to which an officer belongs, such as a riot police unit or a special operations police unit (SOP), but also by the operational tasks, the duration of the deployment or the external deployment conditions. The obligatory wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) is one such condition, which on the one hand offers life-saving protection, but on the other hand can have a major impact on physical performance as well as metabolic and thermal stress due to its mass and multi-layered material.
The first study of this dissertation dealt with the quantification of such changes in performance and internal load through PPE as well as the identification of relevant fitness characteristics that benefit police officers during job-oriented physical ability tests. 45 male participants were divided into four groups, each with a combination of high or low maximum oxygen uptake and high or low isometric maximum strength in the deadlift. In randomized order, the participants then went through a test series twice, once with sportswear and once with PPE. They completed an incremental exercise test on the treadmill, preceded and followed by a rescue simulation in a pre-post design, in which they transported a dummy over ten meters for four times.
The PPE caused significant reductions in performance, which differed in their extent between the treadmill test and the rescue simulation. Fluid loss doubled compared to the examination with sportswear. Body temperature increased significantly faster during running in PPE than in sportswear and often reached values of over 39 °C. While performance in the treadmill test and rescue simulation was mainly related to maximum oxygen uptake or maximum isometric strength, body temperature regulation was largely unaffected by these fitness characteristics as well as the body composition of the subjects. Overall, the results suggested that regular endurance training in particular, but also strength training and weight management, should be an important part of police forces' training concepts. However, a considerable reduction in thermal stress is not expected to result from regular training but probably rather from improvements in equipment material or cooling strategies.
The second study investigated whether applicants of the North Rhine-Westphalian SOP units train in accordance with their physical requirements. However, since little is known about the minimum required level of relevant fitness characteristics, the retrospective data of this study were compared with those of professional athletes of Olympic sports in the form of a strengths-weaknesses analysis. Pooled means of a total of 3,028 male athletes from 36 sports served as references and were compared to the sample of interest using effect sizes.
Relative to the average professional athlete, applicants, and thus members of SOP units, are taller, heavier, and highly trained in terms of various maximal strength tests. However, they show deficits particularly in the areas of aerobic endurance capacity and leg muscle power, each ranking in the bottom third of all cohorts studied.
Consequently, a guided rethinking of SOP units’ training practices, possibly more closely aligned with those of professional athletes and covering a broader range of motor abilities, seems appropriate. Especially, higher proportions of plyometric training or polarized endurance training would be more in line with the occupational requirements.
Translated title of the contributionThe metabolic and neuromuscular performance of North Rhine-Westphalian police units with respect to wearing personal protective equipment
Original languageGerman
Place of PublicationKöln
PublisherDeutsche Sporthochschule Köln
Number of pages52
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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