Reduce stress and stay fit by Nordic Pole Walking
by Agnes Ramsay
Walking improves your attention span and your outlook on life. According to researchers, walking outdoors can boost virus and tumour-fighting white blood cells. It’s free, and you can walk almost anywhere. It’s a great activity to do alone or with others. What’s not to love?
My husband teases me for being a tree hugger, but I don’t need any specialist to tell me how great I feel after a brisk walk. However, some of us have limitations due to bad knees, hips or lower back problems.
Nordic Poles to the rescue
A couple of years ago, my husband and I hiked through several State and National parks. Our ﬁrst hike was six hours on the East Rim Trail in Zion National Park. Although we were ﬁt 53-year-olds, the wear and tear of my husband’s professional hockey playing days had caused knee and hip problems. Hiking upwards wasn’t so bad, but heading back down became difficult. We found a sturdy stick that helped, and then I had a lightbulb moment – Nordic Poles.
After my husband iced his knees, we headed off to an outfitting store and chose a pair of collapsible, lightweight, aluminum, anti-shock poles. That night I researched pole walking techniques and the following day we hit the trails for a four-hour ridge climb. I was nervous, but my husband was determined. He barely struggled getting down the steep pathway, using the poles as though he’d been doing it all of his life.
At one point I borrowed his poles and couldn’t believe the zip it gave to my hiking, as well as the additional workout I felt in my upper body. I have since purchased a set of my own.
Nordic Pole benefits
- Upper body assistance with overall strength, improving endurance and speed
- Balance and stability are enhanced on uneven terrain
- Shock absorption – reduces impact on hips, knees, ankles and feet
- Helps to establish, and maintain, a consistent pace
- Burns more calories than walking
- When looking for the right size, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle
- Ensure that they are collapsible for traveling
- Check the comfort level of the hand grips and wrist straps
- Anti-shock poles reduce strain on hands and wrists
- Lightweight, carbon poles are more expensive, but aluminum poles are more flexible and better for running
USING YOUR POLES
- Grip poles (firmly), with your elbows at 90 degrees.
- Let your arms swing naturally – opposite arm to leg
- Reach slightly forward with the pole, and push down on the ground and back
- Upright posture when going forward
- Lean slightly forward when going uphill
- Don’t overdo it on the first day
- Establish a rhythm and stretch afterwards
- Poles assist with stability in the winter, but in icy conditions, wear appropriate footwear (i.e. boot traction slip ons) and use trails that are well-maintained.
|Agnes Ramsay specializes in Electric Muscle Stimulation Training.