For anyone that has an interest in Nordic walking, there are a few things that must be known before you’re able to do it properly. If you’ve read about it a little bit, then you might already know some of the steps that need to be taken. But for the layman, getting the hang of it could seem like a daunting task. This is especially the case when attempting to do the technique for the first time. To mention the work again, technique is a big part of getting the hang of Nordic walking. However, it’s not so hard to do. All it takes is to learn a few easy to remember steps, and you’ll be able to walk quickly without the reliance on a guide. To learn these fast, check out the information below, and use it for reference when you’re all set. Let’s get started.
What is the Technique of Nordic Walking?
The Nordic walking technique is the form that you should take when you’re actively in the process of doing the workout. Much like any other exercise, the key to it being a benefit on your body and health is the proper form that’s done during the activity. You don’t have to be a perfectionist, mind you, but you should have at least some basic understanding of things like stance, body position, and pacing. These are all things that will come, and will eventually be mastered by you without thinking about it. Nordic walking as an exercise is undertaken by people all across the world and is gaining ground as a popular sport for children and adults alike. It’s also highly recommended for the elderly since it doesn’t require any strenuous use of the muscles. All that is required is your arms and legs, which is what you rely on to walk anyway.
The major difference between ordinary and Nordic walking is the level of calories burnt, and the working that’s given to your upper body. Your entire body is needed for the exercise. If you’ve never seen it done before, check it out on a video. It’ almost superficially resembles hiking, but without the steep inclines that you might see in such a location. Nordic walking is usually done on flat, level surfaces. Normal hills and slopes are fine to walk on, mind you, but it’s best to avoid areas that are too rocky or steep. Walking around the block, or go to your favorite park to partake in Nordic walking.
The Advantages of Nordic Walking
There are lots of benefits for your body when you partake in Nordic walking. They might not be obvious at first, but you’ll soon see them when practicing walking in this way after a while. The first comes as the realization that you’re not actually walking normally. This is enhanced walking, giving your upper body more movement and blood circulation that would possible with moving without poles. The poles are the key to things here, whereby you’ll process a bit more work with the muscles above your lower torso as you pace. You’re not going to feel as if you left the gym after doing multiple sets of bench presses or deadlifts, but you will feel it once the workout is completed. Nordic walking is safe for more people to do, although it would be a good idea to monitor small children and the disabled elderly whenever likely.
Another huge advantage of Nordic walking is the cardio workout itself. More movement and blood circulation helps regular cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Your heart rate will increase, but at the level that burns calories. Additionally, if you’re overweight, Nordic walking is one of the easiest exercises to try out during the beginning stages of a weight loss plan. Picking it up is easy, and getting used to it has a very short learning time. And finally, Nordic walking can strengthen your muscles and slightly increase their mass. It’s not an exercise that would turn you into a 1980s Arnold Schwarzenegger, but can definitely fill them in after a while, particularly if you’re combining it with other cardio or weightlifting activities.
Things That You Need
Before you get started, there are some things that you will need. Most of the items can be found online or in your local sports outlet. Yet it’s advised that you check out online retailers first since they tend to have a better quality than what you could get nearby to you. Try looking at the product reviews to make sure you’re getting something that won’t break the first time you use it. So with this in mind, let’s look at the items:
Nordic walking poles
- This one is obvious. Nordic walking poles are needed for users, and without them, you won’t be able to do the activity. Similar to any sports activity, there are both good and bad walking poles. To know which is good and of poor quality, check to find out how dense the material of the pole is, along with its flexibility. If it doesn’t bend easily, that’s a good thing. If you see cork material on handles, don’t worry. In fact, having cork is preferred since it’ll give you a good grip when you push back with the poles during motion. You should also look and see whether or not the poles can extend. Some of them are fixed at a certain length, whereby the height can’t be modified. Those that are good for people that are taller or shorter than average, as fixed lengths are sometimes difficult to find in a particular size that’s best for an individual.
- There are the pieces that fit at the bottom of your Nordic walking poles. If you have poles already, chances are high that you have a pair installed on them. But if not, you could buy them separately as a standalone product. But before you do, check to see if you’re getting some that will perform well in the region in which you live. People that reside in warmer climates that are flat and don’t receive much rain should be fine with rubber tips. They’re also good for urban dwellers or anyone that intends to walk in a suburban environment. However, tips with a wider width are strongly suggested during the winter seasons, or for those that get ice and snow during the colder months of the year. The larger tips are also good for mud. But consider a variety of tips if you’re unsure about this, or anticipate walking in areas where the ground is varied.
- Wrist straps are what you’ll hook on to the top of your Nordic walking poles. Most brands sell straps that can either be latched on or use Velcro. Be sure that you get a pair that will accent your hands well. You don’t want to mistakenly end up with some that don’t fit or are too loose. Of course, a lot of them sold have a “one size fits most” attribute. But if you have large or very small hands, consider a purchase for some that are separately sold from your walking poles. An extra pair is always good to have around, especially if there are other people undertaking the activity with you.
- Having a fanny pack around is wise during Nordic walking. You won’t be able to carry anything in your hand, which leave you to either your pockets or a pack that can fit around your waist. You shouldn’t take a backpack unless it’s small and won’t intrude on your ability to carry out the technique correctly. Plus, you’ll be able to stash all of your important stuff in the pack without it getting in the way of your walking. There are packs made specifically for Nordic walking poles sold on the internet, so check them out when you’re ready.
A decent pair of walking shoes
- If there’s a pair of sneakers lying around your home somewhere, those would be perfectly found for your first Nordic walking event. But if not, walking shoes are the best. The shoes should allow some breathability, and be generally comfortable for you to wear for long periods of being on your feet. If you have to, change the sole if they’re not soft enough. Never undertake Nordic walking in high top shoes of any kind. Your ankles should be able to move freely, without any obstructions. If you’re going to be walking in a setting with the varied ground, using a low top and flexible “boot” sneaker should suffice.
- Water might be the most important item that you carry during Nordic walking. Even when the weather outside is cool, you should still maintain a bottle in your possessions. And try to drink a little bit before you begin, ensuring that you’re well-hydrated at all times. You don’t want to feel the sluggish effects of dehydration, so keeping fluids with you is the way to go. Plus, you’ll have something extra just in case anyone with you is in need of some refreshment (or a brief break).
Getting Yourself Ready
Now that you have all the accessories that you need to get started with Nordic Walking, let’s look at what you actually need to do. Although the directions are fairly straightforward and simple, you should follow them to the teeth, as not doing so could give you a less rewarding workout. If you have someone coming along with you during the exercise, you can go over it together one at a time, until you both have mastered the pacing and movements. Start off in a flat area if you can. Hills can be walked over later but won’t help you find the proper form when you’re in the beginning stages.
Step 1: Know Your Environment
To begin the technique, look and see where you’re walking first. What obstacles will you be walking over? Will you trek through grass and mud, or will you mostly walk on asphalt? Knowing this will start you off in the right direction since you won’t have to abruptly change your rubber tips during the middle of the learning phase. If it’s raining or there’s ice on the ground, be especially careful with this, so as to avoid slipping and falling. But if the sun’s out and the middle of summer, a visor and sunglasses won’t hurt a bit. You might want to look at the weather ahead so that you’re prepared for any sort of changes in wind and or precipitation. It’s difficult to carry an umbrella when you’re hands are busy holding two walking poles.
Step 2: Check Your Stance
Next, you’ll want to get yourself into character. By this, you should be standing in an upright position, your walking poles and straps secured to your wrists, along with the handling in the palms of your hands. Place the ends on the pole at an inclined angle, so that the tips sit further back than the back of your heels. Don’t let them touch the heels. Secure any belongings that you have on you (such as the fanny pack mentioned earlier) and prepare yourself for the technique in motion. One thing to remember before you start walking is to not make your body too stiff. Yes, you should be upright and not sluggish in appearance but bracing yourself will only make you lose focus on your stance, whereby you could end up in the wrong form and not realize it. Keep yourself relaxed and everything should be okay.
Step 3: Start Your Pace
Start by walking very slowly, moving your left arm forward and right arm back. On the fist pace, you won’t have to go too far back with the right arm. If you prefer, it’s okay to start off with your right arm instead. Either way, always place your opposite foot in the back when your arm is front side. For instance. Your right foot your be in the front when your left wrist has released the cork handle. You should never push the handle back with your hands. Allow the wrist to do the work for you.
Step 4: Move with a Plan
Gradually pick up the pace as you walk with the pole. Again, only touch the handles when they’re within eyesight, and use your wrist to pull them towards when behind. The tips of the poles should not be pulled to the front of your body. As you’ve probably guessed by now, the key to mastering the technique is mostly dependent on how you move the poles themselves. If you’re sloppy with your walking, then you won’t get a proper workout from them. But getting this routine down in practice will drive a lot of the work towards your upper body, which is the purpose of Nordic walking, to begin with. If you feel your shoulders, chest, and arms getting tighter, that’s an indication that you’re doing it the right way. Keep it up!
Step 5: Practice Your Technique on Different Surfaces
Now that you know how to do the Nordic walking technique, you should try it out on a different surface. This way, you won’t feel uncomfortable when traversing various terrains that you aren’t familiar with. Most people begin Nordic walking on concrete and asphalt, so move to a hard ground if the weather permits you to do so. Don’t forget to change out your tips if the surface is a bit porous. It will prevent the ends from sinking too far in when you move the poles back. If you’re in a rocky environment, you might be able to get away with your ordinary rubber feet. Don’t use them on snow or ice, as they won’t grip the surface very well. Try going up inclines and descents that aren’t too steep. And remember to take that water break!
Nordic walking is easy enough for anyone to enjoy. You could even have your kids undertake the activity if you would like. Show them and any others the same directions that you got from here, and everyone will be able to move with the same pace. Don’t expect everyone to get it down to a science on the first day, however. But soon enough, you and others with you will begin to pick things up fast. It’s recommended for you to study any reading material about the subject, and to familiarize yourself with tutorial videos and photos of other people performing the exercise if you can. But even if you don’t do that, you should get along just fine by following the steps outlined above.