January 17, 2014

Getting To Grips With Nordic Walking

If you are regular reader of the Hi-Tec blog you will be aware that we sometimes like to take a closer look at less mainstream ways that you can get outdoors and get some exercise, whether that be through urban walking or speed hiking.  This week we discuss Nordic walking, explaining what it is, the benefits and what kit you’ll need to give it try.

Overview

Nordic walking involves the use of specially designed poles, which are used to propel you on your way.  The use of the poles serves to lower the impact on your knees and legs, whilst working your upper body.  Studies show that Nordic walking utilises 90% of the body’s muscles and burns 20-45% more calories than normal walking – making it a great activity for those looking to lose some weight.  Another benefit of Nordic walking is that it gently strengthens back and shoulder muscles, which can benefit those who suffer from pain in these areas, often caused by sitting at a computer desk or lots of driving.

Technique  

There are a variety of techniques that can be used in Nordic walking, some of which are more complex and demanding than others.  If you are planning on giving Nordic walking a try then you should of course start off with the more basic techniques and get a feel for it, before moving on to the more difficult ones.  The 6 minute video below offers a great introduction to Nordic walking, touching on the benefits and demonstrating proper technique for beginners.

Getting Kitted Out

The most obvious piece of kit that you will need for Nordic walking is some poles.  Although you might be tempted to use some normal trekking poles or perhaps even your skiing poles, they aren’t really suitable.  Nordic poles are lighter than trekking poles, with the straps and grip being specially adapted for the techniques used.  With skiing poles, they tend to be quite a lot longer than Nordic poles, making them unsuitable for the activity.

When it comes to footwear you need something that offers enough support, without being too restrictive.  Walking shoes and trainers are good options, but you should avoid walking boots, unless you plan on tackling the big hills.  The athletic yet robust design of trail running shoes means that they are also a good option for Nordic walking.

Finally, when considering your clothing choice, you should take into consideration that fact that you will get warm very quickly once you set off.  It is best to wear a base layer of clothing that is breathable and utilises moisture wicking technology, to help regulate your body heat and keep you dry.  Then add as many layers as required, with a waterproof outer later if there is a chance of rain.  Be sure to go for several thinner layers rather than one thick layer, so that you can remove items as necessary.


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