Walking as a form of transportation and exercise has been present since our early ancestors. Here in North Oakville in some of the West Oak Trails near our Physio, Massage, and Foot Clinic people use the trails to cycle, run, walk and even nordic walk. Many people aren’t sure what people are doing walking with the poles and may be unsure of how to do it or intimidated to add the activity into their regime. We often at our Oakville Physio clinic suggest it to patients as an activity to incorporate into their lives for a variety of reasons.
What exactly is Nordic Pole Walking?
If you’ve never heard of Nordic Pole Walking think walking with 2 ski pole-type contraptions. Nordic pole walking is a form of exercise where you walk with the assistance of two poles that help to engage muscles throughout your whole body. It has been gaining popularity with many different people, but especially with people who have conditions that make traditional exercise difficult. Anyone can benefit from Nordic Walking and our Oakville based Physios will often recommend it for people with osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, back pain, weaker cores, arthritis in the knees, ankles or hips as well as a variety of other reasons.
There are classes and groups of individuals that get together to participate in this activity and there is even a proper technique for how it should be done! Most city parks and recreation programs will have a Nordic Pole Walking program of some capacity.
Nordic Pole Walking Tips and Tricks:
You will need to make sure that your poles are adjusted properly for the kind of walking that you are planning on doing. Wellness walkers are looking for casual walking at a moderate pace and active walkers are looking for a higher pace with a more powerful stride.
The kind of walking that you want to do determines how you adjust your poles. You start with your arms beside your body and elbows in a 90 degree angle. If you are doing wellness walking you drop your hands down 2 inches (about 65% of your body height); if you are looking for active walking keep your arms at 90 degrees.
Nordic Walking can be used for many Reasons:
- Help with weight management
- Used for fitness and toning
- Help with pain management
- Assist with the management of disease
- Lead to a better posture
Pole walking uses 90% of your muscles, both upper and lower body muscles are activated during this exercise. You are utilizing aerobic exercise with the walking and by introducing the poles you are adding in an element of resistance exercise. You activate upper body muscles such as your pectorals, rhomboids and your abdominals. Nordic pole walking is used by individuals who are looking for low impact core training. You are getting the best of both worlds with Nordic pole walking.
Another benefit to Nordic pole walking is that you are reducing the impact on your joints. It is especially beneficial for individuals who have knee problems and are unable to run because of the high impact that this causes on your joints. Not only do you see benefits in reducing loads on your lower extremities but you also see a reduction in neck and back pain. When done properly you are able to relax your shoulder and neck muscles that are strained from sitting at a desk all day long.
Nordic pole walking as a low impact, pain free form of exercise also helps in managing disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary disease and even depression. Exercise of any kind is good for high blood pressure and coronary disease but this is a low impact, low risk form of exercise that most individuals are able to do. Exercise in general has a positive effect on mental health but Nordic pole walking has been found to have an interesting effect on top of the fact that it is physical activity that gets you moving. You have to focus on your technique for Nordic pole walking and this sets negative thoughts associated with depression aside, it has another component to it other than just walking alone.
We are fans of Nordic Pole Walking, at our North Oakville Physiotherapy, Massage and Foot Clinic not only as a fitness but also rehabilitation based exercise. For more information on if your would benefit from this activity, our Physiotherapists would be happy to assess you and direct you in set-up and form.