How to practice Nordic walking?

Nordic branding, or Nordic walking, is becoming one of the hottest sports for those looking for a more relaxed option than jogging. An alternative that combines physical activity with natural surroundings, which is ideal for relaxing from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives.

If on some of your walks you have come across people walking with mountain sticks, don’t worry, because it is not that they have forgotten their skis at home. They are practicing the so-called Nordic walking. A very interesting sports discipline both for being very accessible to all types of users and for having a comprehensive approach, in which practically the entire body is in operation. Something that helps make the benefits of Nordic walking for health more than considerable. However, since it is an activity that requires certain elements and a very specific technique, we are going to give you all the information you need about it.

The benefits of Nordic walking

Before we get into the technical details of how you should walk, we don’t want to skip the part about the many benefits of Nordic walking. The fundamental idea of ​​this sport is “skiing without snow”, so that when walking normally we add the support and movement of the poles. This translates into a total involvement of the upper part of the body, compared to the relative inactivity of this area in a normal walk. The result of this approach is that Nordic walking can consume 40% more calories than conventional walking.

Another benefit of this activity is that it is very non-aggressive, due to its low impact. Ideal for older people or people with joint problems, who should always be careful with this type of activity. Finally, in addition to the physical benefit, it is obvious that moving around nature always has a positive effect in psychological terms, which helps us to disconnect and forget about complex daily life.

Nordic walking poles

We already go into depth in this sport analyzing the fundamental element that we need for its practice: the poles. Visually, these Nordic walking poles look the same as poles used for skiing. In fact, the forerunners of this exercise were professional skiers, who needed an exercise to maintain their form during the summer.

When choosing, it is key to get the height of the Nordic walking poles right according to both our own height and the type of poles and the shape of their handle. In the market, fixed-height canes coexist with other adjustable ones. The latter are the most suitable for newcomers, since they allow adjustments to be made until the correct position is achieved. 

In general, the height of the Nordic walking pole should be one that allows us to place the arm and forearm at a 90 degree angle while holding the pole. As a reference, the estimated height can be calculated by multiplying the height of the user in question by 0.68. As an example, a 1.8 meter tall walker should use 122 centimeter poles. However, this also depends on the preferences and style of the walker, so starting with the adjustable options is the best option. By the way, although some sources say otherwise, Nordic walking poles and trekking poles (by clicking on this link you can find some purchase options) do not serve the same purpose, so it is better to bet on the former.

How to use Nordic walking poles

Once we have the poles properly adjusted, it is time to learn the technique of Nordic walking. Although as we practice this activity we will mechanize it and execute it almost automatically, it is essential that during the first outings we pay attention and do things correctly.

To walk correctly, it is essential to keep the body upright and the trunk straight. If we’ve done our homework, the upper arm should be at a 90-degree angle to the forearm when we hold the pole on the ground. This would be the so-called starting position.

From here, it is time to start the movement. The walking technique involves moving one arm forward together with the leg on the opposite side in a coordinated way: left arm with right leg and right arm with left leg. It can be tricky at first, but it won’t take long for you to get the hang of the move.

Regarding the support of the cane, this should form an angle of 45 to 50 degrees on the ground in the supports, being the same aligned with the axis of the march and with the tip backwards. The idea is that it helps us to propel our walk, so that the force that we execute when picking up the arm that we have advanced pulls us forward. Something that will be especially useful on uphill stretches, where that extra boost will help you overcome slopes with more comfort. However, it is essential to perform this movement correctly, as it is the essence of this discipline and the best way to take advantage of its benefits.

The complements

Until now we have focused on the poles, but the truth is that there are other important accessories in this exercise. One of them is footwear, with Nordic walking shoes already on the market designed for this activity. These products have the advantage of adjusting better to the foot and to the different types of walking that we can do. And although it is not an essential complement, the truth is that if you are fond of this exercise, it is highly recommended.

Another aspect to take care of is clothing. This must be suitable for the climate in which we move, but without excessively sheltering or restricting movements. Nordic walking is not just about walking, so the outfit should allow complete freedom to move the limbs as the walk requires. Finally, it’s not a bad idea to get an MP4 player, where to take your favorite music, or take your mobile with you, which will serve as an audio player, an assistant to control your progress and even guide you when you move along new routes.

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