Nordic walking is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to enhance your walking routine. By implementing Nordic walking poles and simulating the technique used by cross-country skiers, Nordic walkers transform a typical walk into a full-body workout. When done correctly, Nordic walking can help you engage more muscle groups and burn more calories.
To Nordic walking beginners, the Nordic walking technique is quite complicated. To make everything less complicated for you, we will discuss the Nordic walking technique, in detail, in this article.
Purchasing the Right Equipment
1. Nordic Walking Poles
Although you could have seen some people walking with regular trekking poles or ski poles, you must purchase poles designed specifically for Nordic walking. Some of the things to consider when purchasing Nordic walking poles include:
The best poles should touch the floor/ground while your elbows are at 90 degrees. The poles should feel comfortable while you are cross-country walking.
Some poles are adjustable while others are not. If the poles you decide to purchase are not adjustable, be sure to get perfectly-fitted poles before leaving the store. Perfecting the Nordic walking technique will be impossible if you can’t handle your poles.
Wrist straps allow you to release your pole during the backstroke without dropping the pole. While wrist straps are not vital during Nordic walking, professionals do recommend them. When purchasing your pole, ensure that the straps fit comfortably around your wrist.
Although most Nordic walking beginners prefer to do Nordic walking on the pavement, you can decide to take advantage of other terrains. For example, you can decide to try Nordic walking while hiking on dirt trails or in the mountains.
If you decide to walk on the pavement, use the attachable rubber pads which should cover the bottom of your poles. The rubber pads should come with the pole. If you will be exploring dirt trails, make use of a metal spike at the end of the poles.
The footwear you decide to use will depend on the terrain you will be exploring. Since most Nordic walking beginners explore the pavements, normal walking shoes should be ideal. If you decide to explore hiking trails, consider using hiking shoes.
3. Other Accessories
Poles and shoes are the most important equipment. However, depending on your preference and the weather, additional equipment may be necessary. The additional gear you may need includes hiking sunglasses for protection against the sun and hydration packs for staying hydrated.
Perfecting Your Nordic Walking Technique
Step 1: Attach the Nordic Walking Poles to Your Wrist
Irrespective of whether you intend to walk leisurely through the neighborhood or explore a remote trail, it is crucial that you attach the poles properly to the wrist via the pole straps. Most of the poles will feature wrist straps resembling the bottom of a hiking glove, fitting around the thumb and clasping to the wrist without having to hold the poles in the hands. For specific guidance, consult the pole instructions.
Step 2: Start Walking Normally
At first, you will need to ignore the new poles. Walk normally while holding your poles lightly in the hands. This should help you start walking with a normal gait. It will also help you avoid changing your natural way of walking.
The Nordic walking technique makes use of the natural walking technique and you must avoid changing the way you move your arms. Walk until the poles feel comfortable/natural in your hands.
Step 3: Step with the Heel and Then Roll to the Ball of the Foot
Once the poles feel natural, focus on initiating the step on the heel of the foot while planting the pole on your opposite arm to the ground. Stepping on the heel should allow the opposite pole to propel the body forward.
Step 4: Move the Arms Along with the Lead Foot
Choose which foot will be the lead foot and then move both arms at the same time as the chosen foot. Imagine the poles touching the ground the same time the lead foot touches the ground. Focus on creating unison between the lead foot and the arms. Similarly, ensure that the arms are in motion as the other foot touches the ground.
Step 5: Touch the Nordic Walking Poles to the Ground While Walking
Most Nordic walking beginners ignore touching the ground – this is not a good idea. While walking in the way described in step 4 above, begin lightly touching the poles to the ground while keeping them at a 45-degree angle.
As this starts to feel more natural, use the arms to push off the Nordic walking poles, propelling the body forward. This helps you engage the upper body while taking the pressure off of your back and the leg joints. To engage the entire body, allow the torso to move naturally as you push off with your Nordic walking poles.
Tip: Start Nordic Walking for Shorter Distances
Nordic walking burns up to 46% more calories compared to normal walking and uses more muscles. Take this into consideration when you begin. You can start with walking for 30 minutes while your body gets used to the exercise. You can then increase the time slowly.
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If not knowing how to Nordic walk has been holding you back, this guide should help you get started with the exercise. The steps in this article should work for all Nordic walking beginners.
It is, however, worth noting that variations to the above steps may exist. Adjusting the technique described above to one that is more comfortable for you is always a good idea.
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