Sunday, 22 March 2015

Nordic Walking Poles – A growing fitness trend for everyone.

My wife and I starting using Nordic walking poles a few years back after arthroscopic surgery to repair a knee after a skiing accident. Linda’s personal experience in her recovery efforts and as a chiropractor who has seen hundreds of people who have had gone through rehab from knee and hip repair, she now is a big supporter of Nordic poles to help people “learn to walk properly” again.

However you don’t need to be rehabbing to take advantage of the benefits of Nordic pole walking.

As a recent article in the Vancouver Sun pointed out, more urban walkers are taking advantage of Urban poling which can ramp up your calories burned by 20% to 45% over walking alone. The poles are outfitted with rubber tips so your strike on the pavement is lessened and the metal shafts of the poles absorb the balance of the vibration.

The idea behind Nordic walking came from Finland in the 1930’s where cross-country skiers wanted a method to continue their training during the off season. Years ago when hiking around the local trails we would hear comments like “Hey you going skiing?” or “Where’s the snow?” Now it’s commonplace to see polers tripping about the greater Vancouver pathways.

Despite the increase in usage of Nordic poles, some sports stores don’t carry them at all and if they do they only carry a limited selection. I did find however that the Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) does carry a good selection of poles as well as replacement tips. Average prices range from $50 to $150.

Aside from burning more calories other advantages of Nordic Pole waking include:
* you incorporate 90% use of body muscles (only 40% while walking without poles)
*  you increase your cardiovascular workout
*  you walk more upright which improves your posture and balance
*  upper body activity using the poles improves upper body mobility 
*  post injury, poles assist you in relearning how to walk properly again without limping through brain retraining using a cross crawl pattern (like floor crawling)
*  it is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels
My goal last summer was to walk the entire 42 kms of the Baden Powell trail which starts near sea level at Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver and runs across the North Shore mountains to sea level again in Deep Cove, North Vancouver. I had my poles with me the entire time which really aided in balance and assisting in climbing.
Whether I walk around my neighborhood or hike up one of the local mountains I always take along my trusty poles. As the nice weather now approaches, check them out. You won’t regret it.

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