Nordic walking (or pole walking) is a total body style of walking that can be enjoyed as a health-promoting activity, is enjoyed by more than 10 million people globally and was originally a summer training regime for cross-country skiers in the 1930s.
Nordic walking combines the accessibility of walking with simultaneous core and upper body conditioning similar to Nordic skiing. Unlike when trekking or rambling, Nordic walking poles are planted behind you in order to propel you along. This engages the upper body and makes you feel lighter on your feet. The result is a moderate-intensity aerobic activity and full body workout, meaning you:
- can burn 20–40% extra calories by using the poles (helping weight loss)
- strengthen the large back muscles that pull the shoulder blades down releasing tension in the neck and shoulders
- lengthen the spine so that body weight is better carried
- correct postural muscles
- improve the stability of the spine and pelvis
- strengthen your back and abdominal muscles
- could use the poles to support and guide to improve fitness as part of a rehab programme
- improve balance and co-ordination through the added stability provided by the two poles
- use 90% of your major muscles so your upper body gets toned as well as your legs and backside
- improve your posture and gait
- reduce the impact on the joints
The activity is performed with specially designed walking poles similar to ski poles. With a technique that is similar to the upper body action of classic cross country skiing, it involves applying force to the poles with each stride using your entire body with intensity. The rhythm of the arms, legs and body are similar to those used in vigorous walking. The range of arm movement regulates the length of the stride. The longer the pole thrust, the longer the stride and more powerful the swing of the pelvis and upper torso.
You’ll need a pair of Nordic walking poles which are different to those used for trekking due to how you use the strap and the angle you plant them on the ground, walking shoes and appropriate clothing. The technique and teaching of Nordic Walking are based on three main pillars:
- Correct walking technique
- Correct posture
- Correct use of poles
Nordic walking can be done in any location, urban or rural, but it’s recommended that you learn the technique from a qualified instructor. Find an instructor on the websites of Nordic Walking UK (www.nordicwalking.co.uk) or British Nordic Walking (www.britishnordicwalking.org.uk).
Other benefits of Nordic walking include contributing to rehabilitation from surgery for breast cancer and to improving bone density in relation osteoporosis. International Nordic Walking Association, 2011
With thanks to www.nhs.uk