Nordic Walking means walking with poles. Many elements of ordinary walking become more effective with poles and the walking technique becomes more balanced.
Nordic walking is so effective as a whole-body exercise, that I let my gym membership lapse several years ago and haven’t been back there since.
If your goal is to lose weight, improve your general fitness level and even build some muscle, you owe it to yourself to give Nordic walking a try.
A general rule of thumb as far as the length of poles is concerned is that the forearm should be almost parallel to the ground with the arm angle at about 100 degrees, while gripping the handle and the tip of the pole next to the ankle joint. More specific pole fitting should be done with the help of a good instructor.
It is also highly recommended to take classes with a qualified and certified instructor, in order to fully benefit from what Nordic Walking offers and to avoid picking up some wrong habits, which might require extra work later to eliminate.
Walk naturally, but with a purpose. Nordic Walking is an enhancement of normal walking, not a different movement.
Keep hands and poles close to your body.
As your left foot moves forward, so does your right hand, and vice-versa.
Maintain the pole thrust behind the line of your pelvis. Keeping the poles and the thrust forward is counterproductive.
Grip the pole handle, as your hand moves forward, past your hip and plant it solidly into the ground when it reaches the front of the stroke. At the moment of the pole plant you should be firmly gripping the pole handle.
As your hand pushes back (firmly and slowly) by your hip, open your palms slightly, relax your fingers and keep pushing into the strap. As the pole reaches the rearmost position of the stroke, the grip should be almost totally released. This creates a greater stretch of your arm and causes greater spinal rotation. With correct Nordic Walking technique there is an unmistakable swing of your shoulders and hips.
Stretch your body gently at the end of the walk.
First-time Nordic walkers should be started by hanging the poles loosely down with extended arms, with the pole tips dragging on the ground and searching for the walking rhythm. When the rhythm is found, combine steps with pushing the poles backwards with arms opposite to the legs. You should be leaning on the straps of the poles and the fingers should be gripping the handles only when they are forward of the hips.
While the front arm is very slightly bent and the pole basket is at the same level with the opposite leg, the pole hits the ground diagonally at an angle of 60 degrees so that the pole is on the ground behind the heel of the front leg.
A great, audible test of the proper technique is walking on pavement with no rubber tips in order to be able to tell by sound if the arm stroke was correct. I am indebted to Gottfried Kürmer for this easy, but very effective drill. A proper stroke will produce a single, clean, sharp sound.
These are the very basic principles of Nordic Walking. To take full advantage of the benefits that Nordic Walking offers, almost everyone is recommending taking lessons from a qualified instructor.
There seem to be several schools of thought out there as far as Nordic Walking technique is concerned. With some minor modifications we follow the European method, promoted by the American Nordic Walking Association (ANWA), of which we are members and where we qualified as certified instructors.
Why? Because after extensive study, practice and discussion with physical training and Nordic Walking professionals we deem it to be the optimum and most effective technique to get and keep people in good shape in the shortest possible time.
At the same time, don’t forget that Nordic Walking can be and actually is fun and that certain elements of technique are not “graven in stone”.