What is Nordic Walking?
Nordic Walking is a low-impact total body exercise. It is a specific fitness technique and not simply walking with poles like trekking or hiking. Using the correct technique, Nordic Walking poles (which are different to hiking poles) are planted behind you in order to propel you along using the upper body (back, arms and core) as well as the legs – making it easier to work quite hard. Nordic Walking uses the massive power from the entire upper body to turn a “2-wheel drive” activity, such as regular walking or running into a “4-wheel drive” activity engaging over 90% of the body’s skeletal muscles and burning up to 40% more calories than regular walking.
I’ve never heard of Nordic Walking. Is it popular?
Nordic Walking is just starting to take off in Australia but it has been very popular in Europe and America for many years. In Germany and Austria in particular Nordic Walking has been around since the 1930s – initially as a Summer training technique for cross-country skiers. Between 8% and 10% of the German and Austrian populations are estimated to Nordic Walk – that makes for around 7 million Germans Nordic Walking – supported by around 10,000 Nordic Walking Instructors. There are now more than 300 Nordic Academy certified instructors in Australia.
What are the benefits of Nordic Walking?
The natural exaggeration of the shoulder swing along with the push on the poles and slightly longer stride all help to increase general workload compared with ordinary walking. Proper use of the poles helps tone the upper body and improves posture, while the greater stride and roll through the foot conditions the legs and buttocks. Key benefits of Nordic Walking include:
- Works the whole body – uses more than 90% of muscles – more than regular walking, running, cycling and swimming
- Increased muscle use leads to increased cardio-vascular workout by up to 25% compared to regular walking
- Burns up to 40% more calories than regular walking
- Tones upper arms, shoulders, back and leg muscles
- Develops core stability and strength
- Promotes upright posture
- Helps ease neck and back pain
- Decreases load and strain on ankles, knees, hips and lower back
- Suitable for all ages and fitness levels from super-fit to effective rehabilitation
Develops core stability and strength? Really? How?
- Raise your hands off of your computer keyboard and mouse and extend them out as if offering them for a friendly handshake on each side of the keyboard.
- Make two fists and place them on your desk with your thumbs up.
- Make certain that your elbows are not resting on the desk’s surface.
- Finally, sit upright and alternately press one fist, then the other firmly into the desk repeatedly for 15 -20 repetitions.
As you do this, notice how a wave of contractions goes through your abdominal muscles as well as large back, arm, shoulder, chest, and important “core strength” muscles contract each time you push.
Who can Nordic Walk?
Nordic Walking works within the natural walking movement patterns making it a safe exercise for everyone. Anyone, any age, who can walk can Nordic Walk. For people who find walking difficult due to painful joints, poor balance or lack of energy Nordic Walking can assist them to walk more comfortably and safely. Research has found that the rate of perceived exertion in Nordic Walking is lower. This means that if you have reduced fitness, you can maintain the activity for longer. People with higher levels of fitness can continue the activity at a heart rate level similar to running.
Can Nordic Walking be used for cross-training for athletes?
Nordic Walking is an ideal cross-training exercise for sports competitors at all levels. Using Nordic Walking poles to walk, bound or run athletes can achieve cardiovascular results similar to other high-intensity activities. In addition Nordic Walking:
- Spreads the workout across the entire body – thus reducing strain on any one body area
- Sustains or builds general aerobic conditioning
- Helps strengthen total musculature
- Decreases load on strained or at-risk ligaments, tendons, bones, joints
- Develops co-ordination and learning of a new motor skill and movement pattern
- Promotes muscular endurance of minor muscle groups
Can people with health conditions like diabetes or Parkinson’s Disease or others needing rehabilitation Nordic walk?
Nordic Walking has been proven to be very effective in assisting people with a range of health conditions. Nordic Walking is an effective rehabilitation measure that can be individually adapted to assist with injury-recovery, acute and chronic conditions including arthritis and other joint conditions, diabetes, and cardiovascular-related and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and stroke.
Weight Loss Benefits: Nordic Walking is an ideal activity choice for sustainable weight loss. The utilization of all major muscle groups results in greater calorie consumption and less perceived effort by the walker. Also, because Nordic Walking can be social, uses simple equipment and is done outside, it is an activity that people who struggle with gym-type environments often enjoy doing.
Chronic Disease Management: Nordic Walking is being used worldwide in the treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, neuromuscular and cardiovascular-related diseases. Importantly, Nordic Walking can be adapted to cater for patient’s individual needs and geared to achieve specific outcomes.
Rehabilitation: Increasingly Nordic Walking is being prescribed by podiatrists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, Pilates therapists and other healthcare professionals as a highly effective rehabilitation measure.
What are Nordic Walking poles like and how do they differ from hiking poles?
Nordic Walking and hiking poles are used for different purposes so they are designed differently, are used with a different technique and give different benefits. Nordic Walking poles have been scientifically researched and tested to ensure that they comfortable and effectively facilitate the proper Nordic Walking arm action – ensuring maximum power transfer from your body through the poles as you propel yourself along with the poles behind the body.
Trekking poles are generally used in front of the body for balance and are designed to assist with the weight load of backpack. In general the trekker is not trying to push themselves forward in the way Nordic Walkers do. Therefore they plant the poles more in front of their body at a much more upright angle.
A key difference between the two poles is the wrist strap. The Nordic Walking pole has a strap (some call it glove) that is attached to the grip. The reason for the wrist strap is twofold. Firstly for Nordic Walking is to apply pressure through the strap onto the pole. One can apply far more pressure through the strap onto the pole than holding onto the grip and applying pressure that way. The second reason for the Nordic Walking pole wrist strap is the Nordic Walking technique – once you push your body past the pole forward, you need open the hand to get the pole further back behind the body and for the pole to become an extension of the arm.
The handle of the Nordic Walking pole is more slender than a hiking pole. You never firmly grip a Nordic Walk pole as you might a hiking pole – which has an ergonomic handle. Nordic Walking poles have an angled rubber pad as the poles remain behind the body on a 45 degree angle, whereas hiking poles have a rounded pad to accommodate the upright position of the pole.
Where can I Nordic Walk?
Anywhere that you can walk – you can Nordic Walk – urban street pathways, cycle-ways, sports fields, dirt roads, mountains, and beaches.
Why do I need special lessons to learn how to Nordic Walk properly?
Learning to Nordic Walk is a bit like learning to ride a bike. The first few times it can feel a bit strange. But once you’ve mastered it, it feels natural and easy – like you’ve always done it.
The truth is that you don’t need lessons to walk with poles! Anyone can buy a pair of poles and start walking with them. It’s a bit like golf and tennis that way. But like golf and tennis, if you want to do it well, avoid getting injuries and get the maximum benefits from Nordic Walking it makes sense to get lessons from a qualified and experienced NW Instructor.
There are number of aspects to learn to ensure that you use the poles correctly, get the maximum benefits from Nordic Walking, avoid injury, and know how to ramp it up when you want to increase your workload.
From our experience most people who learn the correct technique from a qualified instructor and practice 2 -3 times per week start to feel completely comfortable walking with poles and are powering along within a month. Some people achieve mastery much faster and some take a little longer.
What credentials do you have to teach Nordic Walking?
Kristen Pratt (Capital Nordic Walking) is a qualified Occupational Therapist and is also a certified Nordic Walking Instructor with NWUK, Nordic Academy and the International Nordic Walking Association.
The Nordic Academy Instructor Course is certified by Physical Activity Australia, Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA), Fitness Australia, Australian Pilates Method Association (APMA), Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association (ALMA).
Have any health organisations recognised Nordic Walking?
In addition to the organisations listed about the Nordic Academy also partners with various state-based organisations such as Arthritis and Diabetes Foundations, and the Heart Foundation Walking Initiative.
Where can I get lessons and how much do they cost?
Nordic Academy has an established network of professionally CERTIFIED Nordic Walking Instructors across Australia.
All Nordic Academy Instructors are qualified health or fitness professionals all of whom provide high quality education and tuition in Nordic Walking. To locate a Nordic Academy certified Instructor in your – http://www.nordicacademy.com.au/index.php/learn-to-nordicwalking
In Canberra Capital Nordic Walking and Linda Clee at the Phytlinc are certified Nordic Academy Instructors. The cost of lessons vary – enquire at your local Nordic Walking provider.
How much do Nordic Walking poles cost and where can I get them?
Capital Nordic Walking provides quality equipment in partnership with The Nordic Academy, who have searched the global marketplace to trial and select the best quality and value products available, so that every one of your Nordic Walking experiences is a positive and effective one.
Capital Nordic Walking only provides high quality Nordic Walking equipment from ONE WAY (Finland) and LEKI (Germany).
The ‘ONE WAY‘ brand of poles from Finland use the advanced technology of ‘diamond carbon’ – an ultra light but supremely strong and durable material for the pole shaft. It is the brand of choice for many of the world’s best cross country ski athletes. Nordic Academy is the exclusive supplier to Australia and NZ of this leading brand.
‘LEKI‘ has been producing high quality ski poles and trekking poles for decades, now they also excel with their Nordic Walking pole range. They are German in design and quality and are ideal for any terrain or climate. Like ONE WAY, all LEKI Nordic Walking poles use the important Salomon licensed wrist strap to ensure function and comfort.
Good quality Nordic Walking poles cost between around $170.00 and $280.00.
How do I choose suitable Nordic Walking poles?
Choosing a quality and correctly sized pair of poles is extremely important, so seeking advice is strongly recommended. Consider your budget but don’t skimp on quality or be fooled by ‘cheap’ imitations, as they will most likely end up costing you more money in the long run.
There are a number of features to consider and individual preferences are also important. Key features include the hand strap, hand-grip, shaft material, fixed length or adjustable, metal tip and rubber paws.
Is Nordic Walking a group or individual fitness activity?
One of the great things about Nordic Walking is that it is something that can be done and enjoyed individually or as a group activity. Some people enjoy the solo, meditative nature of Nordic Walking. Others like the social aspect of Nordic walking together with others. Anywhere that you can walk – you can Nordic Walk – urban street pathways, cycle-ways, sports fields, dirt roads, mountains, and beaches.
Are there groups of people Nordic Walking in Canberra?
A popular way to enjoy Nordic Walking is to join up with other people so that you can socialise and enjoy the exercise and the scenery together.
Capital Nordic Walking will be offering regular monthly Group Nordic Walking sessions for experienced Nordic Walkers.
A qualified Capital Nordic Walking Instructor, insured and trained in first aid, leads Sunday Social walks. They are designed for Nordic Walkers who have mastered the correct technique and want to improve through relaxed practice with others whilst enjoying great scenery and good company. Monitoring of technique and skill improvement tuition will be provided.
For any other issues or questions that have not been answered here or to find out more please contact us directly