Being outdoors, talking with others and enjoying beautiful walks is as good a reason as any to go Nordic walking. But the benefits don’t stop there. Nordic walking can help with practically any fitness goal and we can use it to manage our health as well. Here’s a few examples of how.
Tension in your neck and shoulder area. I suspect that this is familiar to many of you – it is certainly where I hold my tension. Posture is key – really lengthen your spine right up into your neck. Then drop your shoulders down away from your ears and imagine your tension is water draining away down towards your belly. Finally get that rotation going – my physio friends say that this is the number one best thing you can do to release tension and for general back health.
Weak core/sore lower back. These two often go hand in hand as the ‘bully back’ can take over the work of your deep abdominal (‘core’) muscles, causing the latter to weaken still further and your back to ache through constant use. Nordic walking can make a big difference here. First make sure you open up that gap between your hip bone and your rib cage. Next bring your attention to your abdominals and pull them in slightly towards your spine. Your core will engage every time you plant the pole so keep firm downwards pressure through the pole for as long as possible. Finally, get the rotation going – it will work the muscles at the side of your waist and help tone them up.
Sore hips/knees. This is often due to osteoarthritis. Nordic walking is not a cure here but it can help take the pressure off sore joints and make walking easy and enjoyable. You need to make sure that you are active with your heel/toe roll, striking the ground with the pad of your heel not the edge and pushing off with all your toes evenly. This encourages correct muscle alignment right the way up your leg and through your knees and hips. Keep your weight evenly centred over both feet and use your upper body to take the pressure off your hips and knees and propel you forwards. When coming down hill make sure you soften your knees and lean back into your poles so that your centre of gravity falls behind your knees. Click here for more information on downhill technique.
Coughs, colds and asthma. It’s the season for coughs and colds at the moment so it’s worth knowing how Nordic walking can help your breathing. This is particularly important for those of you with asthma. Posture again is very important. You need to give your chest as much space as possible so:
- Lengthen the gap between your hip bone and rib cage;
- square your shoulders;
- picture an imaginary piece of thread tied to your breast bone which pulls your chest upwards and forwards with each stride;
- relax your shoulders;
- use the rhythm of the poles to steady your breathing.
The gloves are off… in the quest to find which glove is best for Nordic walking
I had great fun this week asking you which type of glove you thought was best for Nordic walking. The answer is that…it depends! Pick your favourite from this list:
- Mittens – many think these are best for keeping your hands warm because it allows you to move your fingers about. They can be a bit bulky for Nordic walking though.
- Fingerless mittens – my glove of choice – seems to keep my hands and fingers warm but not overheated. I have ones with furry edges – my bit of glamour.
- Thin gloves – quite of few of you like these, especially if they have a smart phone capability.
- Fingerless gloves – again quite popular and you can buy special ‘Nordic walking’ fingerless gloves.
The only gloves NOT to wear are wool ones. They stick to the Velcro!