Nordic walking has become a popular sport among the elderly, but also younger people can enjoy its charms. First of all, it is recommended to those who are overweight and do not want to put too much strain on their knee joints. This short guide to Nordic walking will tell you how to properly walk with poles and how much weight you can lose thanks to this physical activity.
Nordic walking – technique and choice of poles
Nordic walking is often confused with trekking. Trekking poles have a strip of material attached to the handle into which you put your hand. This prevents you from dropping the pole while walking. They are mainly designed for use in the mountains, where you will find sharp approaches, which makes it very difficult to descend later on. Thus, these poles are used for supporting yourself. In Nordic walking, on the other hand, the purpose of the poles is to relieve the joints and to make the upper part of the body work while walking.
They should be chosen according to your height. To do this, go to a sports store and try the poles on for your height and arm length. If you hold the pole by the handle and your elbow is bent at 90 degrees, it means that the size of the equipment is appropriate. You should also pay attention to their lightness. It is good to buy slightly more expensive poles that are made of carbon fiber. They are characterized not only by low weight, but also resistance to overloading. It is also worth buying special rubber protectors for the feet, designed for different types of surfaces. Sometimes they are also included in the set. A very important element of this equipment are gloves with a place for the thumb. They are placed on the hand so that the poles do not fall to the ground when walking. They should fit well and be made of breathable material. Nordic walking poles are very important, so it is not worth saving on them. Good quality poles will last for many seasons.
Step by step technique of Nordic walking with poles
The Nordic walking technique itself is not difficult, but it is worth practising it at home before going on a long route. The appropriate way of walking guarantees not only a reduced load on the joints, but, first and foremost, faster burning of calories and greater effectiveness of our everyday walks.
Stand in place so that your elbows are bent at 90 degrees. Your hands rest on the handles and the poles stand parallel to your body.
Then take a step so that your right hand along with the pole is placed in front. Be sure to straighten your elbow as well. The left leg should take the step. The Nordic walking sticks are used alternately: when you step with your left leg, your right hand with the pole is in front and your left hand is behind the pole.
Working with your upper body, push off so that you take the next step and your left hand with the pole moves forward. At this time, the right hand moves backward.
As you push off with the hand in front, the other hand stays behind and is slightly lowered. You can let go of the stick for a moment to make the movement smoother. When you move your hand forward, grab the handle back and continue in a smooth motion.
You may want to lightly brush the poles on the ground while they are behind you. Keep the movement alternating and smooth. As you push off, activate your shoulder and upper body. With practice, you will feel your shoulders and torso working, similar to swimming.
When placing the pole in front of you, try to push off hard with it and place it at a slight angle. This will make it easier for you to move your arm back during your next step.
When walking, try to have an upright posture. An unnatural bend will cause the poles to be at your back instead of pushing you away when you take your next step.
The arm movement should come from the shoulder, not the elbow.
The hand located at the back relaxes on the handle, and the one placed in front is to be tightened on it.
Nordic walking – how to walk to lose weight?
If you treat Nordic walking as an activity intended to tame excess weight during walks, you should definitely stick to the following rules:
when placing the pole in front of you, try to perform this movement dynamically, so that the shoulder and arm work and are slightly tense;
when moving the pole from the front to the back, make slight twists of the shoulders;
walk confidently and dynamically, alternating between the left hand with the pole and the right leg, and vice versa – with the right hand push off with the pole, and with the left leg take another step;
increase the walking pace over time, especially as you become more proficient at walking longer distances;
vary your pace and find routes that take you uphill and downhill.
It is also worth investing in hand and ankle weights to make your training more effective.
Physical activity will certainly help you lose weight, especially if it is an aerobic training such as Nordic walking – the calories you can burn during an hour-long walk with poles are as high as 600 kcal! What is important, this kind of sport puts even 30% less strain on your joints in comparison to more popular jogging!
Nordic walking – the effects
The effects of Nordic walking include above all:
strengthening of the whole body muscles, including shoulders, back and arms;
reduction of pain in knee joints, even during long marches;
developing the habit of an upright posture and physiological alternate movement of the hands while walking;
faster burning of fat tissue;
strengthening your legs;
thanks to pushing off with poles we walk faster and more confidently.