When I'm out leading a happy class of Nordic walkers or teaching a one-on-one Nordic walking lesson, we frequently pass another person or group also cheerily enjoying a workout with poles.
After a friendly hello as we pass by, our conversation inevitably turns to a critique of the other Nordic walkers' (almost always) poor technique: bent elbows, poles vertical and in front of the body, poles too long or too short, no propulsion, hiking poles instead of Nordic walking poles, schlumpy posture, short little steps, etc.
While these encounters are actually a great learning opportunity for my participants (recognizing a long list of errors is a great confidence booster), I find it disheartening that so few people learn to use their poles properly.
Just one lesson or clinic is all that's required for most people to understand the basics of Nordic walking. But without some rudimentary instruction and feedback most people end up simply walking with poles, using them the same way they would hiking poles.
They don't realize that hiking poles (also called trekking poles) are used to minimize effort when walking, while Nordic walking poles are used to maximize effort and to challenge almost every muscle in the body.
(I see this same no-technique phenomenon with some new cross-country skiers as they walk or barely glide on their skis across a snowy field.)
If you're curious about the Nordic walking workout, take the intelligent approach and connect with a certified Nordic walking instructor.
She or he can help you with:
- choosing the right poles
- setting telescoping-style poles to the proper length for you
- understanding the coordination, rhythm and technique
- maintaining proper posture
- modifying the intensity up or down
- and much more