We have just had a great speed Nordic walking workshop and I promised those attending that I’d write a summary of the points I raised for them. So here it is - for you to share as well.
Posture - the foundation
If you don’t get your posture right you will not be able to Nordic walk fast for long, or just plain walk for long frankly, without your back or neck taking a hammering. So what to do? Remember these key points:
- Walk tall - feel the length in your spine and the gap between your ears and shoulders.
- Head up, eyes down (looking about 12-20 ft in front of you). Don’t stick your head back - your chin should be parallel to the ground.
- Neutral spine all the time, so keep your bottom tucked in!
- RELAX - shoulders soft; don’t be rigid; let it flow.
Upper body - arm swing and rotate
Two keys things to remember. The first is to concentrate on pushing your arm backwards not about swinging forwards (who ever thought the physics of motion would come in handy?). The second is to remember that rotating properly will enable you to extend your pole-push fully behind you - and this will increase your speed by up to 0.5 mph (I’ve timed it, sad I know!).
Below the belt
Lean (from the ankles) to switch your core and glutes on. Incidentally, your gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your body so don’t waste its potential or power. Get those feet working - heel-toe, squeezing that notional lemon under your foot and pushing off strongly with your toes to get momentum and power. Nice!
- Try to force your pace by over striding, you’ll just end up hurting your back and maybe your knees as well. The key is to increase the strength of your push and this in turn will increase your pace and lengthen your stride.
- Bob up and down - it just wastes energy that could otherwise be used in pushing you forwards faster. Think swan - it glides on the water but its legs are paddling like crazy underneath!
Going up hill, try and keep your arm swing long and powerful. Don’t bend at the waist and keep your chest open to get that oxygen in!
Downhill can be tricky so remember to keep you knees bent (the steeper the drop the more you should bend your knees) and your core and glutes engaged. Your centre of gravity should be behind your knees.
That’s about it for now. I’m looking forward to seeing you all flying!