Would You Play Tennis with a Badminton Racquet?

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It doesn’t happen often now, but years ago people would sometimes arrive at one of my Nordic walking clinics with cross-country ski poles.

It’s understandable. After all, we do often refer to Nordic walking as “cross-country skiing without the skis.”

  • But cross-country poles are much longer than Nordic walking poles.

  • They also lack angled rubber boot-shape tips for walking on sidewalks and other hard surfaces.

  • Many Canadian Nordic walkers prefer poles with strapless handles and a large ledge on their base (rather than the traditional Nordic style with straps). Exerting pressure on the ledge (or strap) is critical to creating forward propulsion.

  • And Nordic walking poles telescope to a smaller size, making them easy to transport, while cross-country ski poles are always a fixed length.

Can you use hiking poles (also called trekking poles) for Nordic walking?

  • Like cross-country ski poles, hiking poles lack angled rubber boot-shape tips that are used on hard surfaces (vs trails and sand). (Some have round plastic tips, but these are just to cover the sharp carbide tips while transporting the poles).

  • Somewhat like ski poles, hiking poles have simple loose wrist straps (to stop the poles from dropping to the ground if you release your grip). Nordic walking poles are strapless with a large ledge at the base of the handle (or have a sophisticated strap/glove system). This lets you hold them with a loose grip, and pressing on the ledge provides forward propulsion.

  • Some hiking poles have a “swing weight” integrated into the bottom and/or have a spring loaded feature, both of which make Nordic walking awkward.

If you’re not ready to commit to Nordic walking yet, borrow a pair of real Nordic walking poles for your first few outings. Only with the proper equipment can you get a true understanding of any new activity.,