Nordic Walking Poles are helping seniors walk taller, faster, more effectively and with improved balance and stability!
The benefits for athletes are many as well - radically reducing the stress to the shins, knees, hips and back, while helping to burn up to 40% more calories than regular walking!
While hosting Nordic Walking Classes all across the county I introduce everyone to the American Nordic Walking System - developed here in the USA and ideal for ALL ages and ALL fitness levels. The American Nordic Walking System provides three basic levels of intensity to pick from.
Level 1: Casually walking, trekking and hiking with the poles is healthy and good - burning over 20% more calories than regular walking! Remember to keep your chin up, fingers relaxed and poles slightly angled back. Each pole plants inline with the opposing foot's heel - alternating and never out in front unless going down a steep hill. When done correctly you will immediately notice your improved posture – walking taller and with a straighter back –naturally and not having to think about it.
Level 1 With A Punch: Continue to keep those fingers relaxed - DON'T grip the poles. Take advantage of our comfortable Nordic Walking Straps - patented by the Salomon Ski Company. Feel the pressure in the heel of your hand effectively being distributed into the cradle of the strap verses squeezing and gripping the poles. Punch the rubber Nordic Walking tips/asphalt paws into the road/walking surface. This additional punch will beef up the effectiveness of Level 1.
Level 2: Requires the arms to fully stretch out and slightly down, keeping the poles slightly less angled back and almost perpendicular. This full arm extension will help to burn over 30% more calories than regular walking! You will find that your walking pace will speed up and your stride will naturally lengthen. Never fake a long stride – allow it to happen naturally. Keep your chin up and fingers relaxed! Shifting from Level 1 to Level 2 is like shifting gears in a car. Level 2 reinforces improved walking posture when done correctly. Again, the poles are NEVER planted in front of the lead heel unless your are descending a steep hill.
Level 2 With A Punch: A little punch goes a long way. Utilize that full arm extension and combine it with a nice little punch - punch the rubber tip into the walking surface while keeping the fingers relaxed and NOT gripping the poles (pressure is in the cradle of the comfortable patented straps).
Level 3: Includes the full reach + a firm pole plant (don’t be gentle), constant pressure from the heel of the hand into the strap and a follow-through push when the hand lines up with the hips. Level 3 is big in Europe, but most Americans don't want to be bothered. Level three burns over 40% more calories than regular walking. Level 3 requires maximum push and can only be effectively done with real Nordic Ski Walking Poles. And remember the poles are NEVER planted in front of the lead heel unless your are descending a steep hill. The American Nordic Walking System does NOT recommend faking a long stride and we do NOT recommend leaning forward at anytime - especially when going faster. It is all about good biomechanics.
Snow & Ice: When the roads and trails are slippery, feel free to keep the poles a little more out in front and NOT angled back. The added stability is a good thing. Remove rubber Nordic Walking tips.
Steep Hills: The American Nordic Walking System also provides helpful and effective instructions for climbing up hills and descending. When climbing hills be sure to keep your chin up – biomechanically a very good thing! Do NOT lean forward into the hill – leaning is biomechanically a very bad thing! When descending a steep hill feel free to plant the poles out in front – your knees will LOVE the radically reduction in stress. Our quality one-piece SWIX and EXEL Nordic Walking Poles have been tested in the Grand Canyon, the Appalachian Trail, the White Mountains, in the Lake Tahoe area, in Alaska, plus the Rocky Mountains - and passed of course with flying colors!
Individuals With Balance Issues: For individuals with balance and stability issues it is recommended to keep the poles straight up and down – perpendicular to the ground. Do NOT focus on the arm movement as much as on enjoying the added balance and stability provided by the poles. Remember to NOT squeeze the poles – take advantage of the comfortable patented straps and keep your finger relaxed (no white knuckling of the pole grips!). Nordic Ski Walking is no longer just for athletes and expert skiers – it is ideal for folks using canes and walkers too including those with MS, Parkinson’s and Neuropathy.
Intervals, Speed Walking and Nordic Running: A great way to help jump start the metabolism is by adding short speed burst of 20 yards to 200 Yards. My wife LOVES Nordic Running our favorite trails. The perfect warm-up for Nordic Running is Nordic Walking - a gentle and effective warm-up for running with poles.
When hosting Nordic Walking Classes I always travel with a pretty big stash of durable and user-friendly lightweight one-piece poles in a variety of sizes. It is a hassle to travel with such a large inventory, but our SWIX and EXEL one-piece Nordic Walking Poles do not have twist-locks or flip-locks - just lightweight and user-friendly goodness.
Quality one-piece poles that are sized correctly prove to be safer, lighter and much more durable than cheap/flimsy 2-piece and 3-piece collapsible poles that tend to rattle, vibrate, freeze-up and/or collapse unexpectedly.
Walking with poles is the best!