Walking poles for WEIGHT BEARING – a Physio’s View.

Pam Jolliffe, an extremely active Physiotherapist who was a keen Nordic Walker – outlines how she trialled the Urban Poling Activator poles following a dramatic change in her health and mobility

June 2017 just 5 days before my 70th my life was disrupted by a stroke and despite a moderately rapid recovery the immobility caused a final rapid deterioration of my hips allowing only about 10 strange steps without support. Following replacement of both my hips in the new- year a new life should begin. In the meantime I am thrilled to have found the Activator poles -originally introduced to me as Physio or rehab poles.

In 2013 I attended Nordic walking sessions to see if I could recommend the training and the poles to my Physiotherapy and Pilates clients. Climbing and mountaineering have been my love and I had previously used trekking poles, so I learned the benefit of using the Nordic strap to take some weight and lighten the grip.

The physics of using walking sticks has been etched in my mind since a brilliant physiotherapy lecturer brought the ergonomic principles of the remarkable weight relief given by using a stick in the opposite hand to the affected leg. Simply the distance from stick rubber on ground to foot is about four times further than if held on the same side.

The physics works incredibly – very little weight goes through the stick. We can picture the person with a stick next to the same foot leaning heavily. Now visualise a runner the right arm and left leg reaching forward. This trunk and pelvic counter rotation improves power and efficiency.

Nordic walking uses these principles but add a new element by creating a driving or propulsive force forward while giving some weight relief. This force is by virtue of the Nordic glove, the steep backward angle of the poles and the remarkably shapes pads – the “paws”- for hard ground.  Excellent technique requires training and encourages the posture which has been my mantra as a therapist encourages a powerful and efficient walking pattern. The Nordic method uses the link between upper and lower body diagonally across the core muscles reducing joint stress from rib cage through lower spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet.

However if like me joints are so severely worn that poles are required in the house your major need is weight relief and the propulsive force is not quite so important. The solution is Activator poles. These have a weight bearing ‘shelf’ built into the handle (see image). This clever shelf  takes a great deal more body weight than the Nordic glove and is also  more practical when poles are constantly being put down to do a task when in constant daily use in the home.

The “ulna” or little finger side of the hand rests on the shelf while fingers lightly hold the pole. The poles have less spring than my old travellers, feeling solid and supportive while remaining light. The technique remains similar with the pole angled backwards but to a lesser degree than Nordic and the extra large pads (paws) give really secure contact on the ground. I have found that they hold me more upright and generally improve my posture. I can see that they will be used right through my rehabilitation until I have recovered muscle strength and bulk which will once more support my joints and I can get back to thinking of more speed and power with my faithful travellers.

If you have been advised to be partial weight bearing you should be supplied with crutches designed for this job and taught by a professional.

I can see that as a professional these poles fit a much needed gap in the market and I can think of so many clients who could have benefitted.  Personally I think they are wonderful and I hope you can see how excited I am about them.


Purbeck in Dorset is the home of the aptly named Purbeck Nordic Walking Festival, a NWUK event which attracted over 700 pole walkers from a host of Nations in 2017.

This iconic event is now entering its third year and is about to GROW! This year, the festival goers enjoyed a choice of 120 walks, workshops, keynote presentations and a lot of fun. There was also a Marathon and 16 mile challenge event which included the new sport of speed hiking (a mix of running and walking with poles)

The unique themed walks included campfire suppers on an RSPB reserve, Literary walks, Geographical and Historical walks plus fun workout walks along rugged coastal paths.

Our festival team have listened to the feedback and suggestions from those who attended and and are now busy planning an even more fantastic event for 2018! Festival 3 will include a lot more social activity (including a range of Friday night ‘supper’ walks in amazing locations and a music event on the Saturday in an iconic setting.

We are busy training Festival Hosts and Leaders and would welcome applications from anyone who wants to be involved. E mail Emma@nordicwalking.co.uk if you can help in any way.

More information will soon be available on our NEW Festival website (launching soon) and we will open registrations for booking by the end of December.


The Festival is booked by the day and there are 1, 2 and 3-day packages to choose from. When you initially register, all you need to do is select your preferred days in order to secure your place. It is possible to change those days and there is no need to do anything else until the full schedule is released in June. At this point, we will enable those who have registered the opportunity to choose which walks and workshops they would like to do, in order of the date they registered. We will also be simplifying group bookings in 2018 so make sure you let us know if you are coming with others.

Most of the walks and workshops are repeated to make them available on ALL 3 DAYS although the Marathon and 16 mile events are on the SATURDAY only and some specialist sessions may depend on the availability of an expert! A Day ticket will mean you can enjoy a choice of circa 30 activities from Dawn to Dusk and gain access to the HUB and social events. You even get a T shirt and Goodie bag!

All you need to do now is be ready to choose your dates as soon as we send the invitation out. It might also be an idea to book some accommodation –  we will have lots of ideas for you but the best locations are Wareham, Swanage and Corfe Castle – click here for some ideas. Bear with us as we build the new interactive Festival website which will make booking and changing walks really easy. In the meantime… the 2017 website is still live so you can see the type of things we have planned for 2018 plus a whole lot more! See 2017 website here

Can’t make it to Dorset or for that weekend in September?


Come and join the HQ Team and the local Instructors for two days of walks, workshops and fun in the wonderful setting of TISSINGTON!

Come for the day or make a weekend of it – more info to follow but save the date

4th and 5th May 2018! 




Highlights from 2017


It’s been a busy year again at NWUK – here are just a few of the highlights

The NWUK trailer hit the road this Summer and was seen in Scotland, the Lake District and even Blenheim Palace. Packed with equipment, goodies and information about Nordic Walking, watch out for it at an event near you in 2018!

NWUK Instructors Tracy and Sharon from Watford NW group visited the Royal National Orthopaedic hospital to work with Orthotic & Prosthetic Users earlier this year.

read more in the RNOH newsletter here 

The South West Coast Path is close to our hearts at NWUK as it features in many of our local walks and the Purbeck festival. That’s why we were so delighted that 37 Nordic Walkers from a range of groups and as far away as Watford helped us raise vital cash for its upkeep by taking part in the final leg of the SWCP challenge.

NWUK Instructor Bart from Lytham St Annes spread the NW message far and wide when he met lots of keen walkers on a recent trip to Japan. He even inspired some of them to book into the NWUK Purbeck Festival too which was lovely! Hopefully their trip will inspire more people to join us again next year?

We love this picture of Bart with his poles but wish the cloak had a touch more purple!!

Dame Kelly Holmes joined NWUK Instructor Janine Lewis (and her team which includes her flamingo Flo!) to help promote physical activity in Reading. Dame Kelly even had a go at Nordic walking by all accounts. Janine is one of many NWUK Instructors who flew the Purple flag this summer – well done to you all

Team NWUK entertained the crowds at the Countryfile Live show in August and had a ball introducing the thousands of visitors to the marvels of pole walking. We will be back in 2018 so come and see us (wear purple and be prepared to sing along!)

Hazel Smith, a NWUK Instructor from Hertfordshire managed to get 231 people to take part in a NW tuition class for a world record attempt in aid of the charity CHIPs. The event in September raised over 1,000 and a lot of fun was had by all.

Great effort Hazel and all involved!

SKY NEWS visited NWUK at one of their favourite partnership and festival sites, the RSPB reserve at Arne in Dorset to interview Gill and some amazing local walkers for a feature about Women in Sport

The piece aired twice on 5th Dec


Seven good reasons to take up Nordic Walking in 2018!


Emma on the right of this picture is a busy Mum of three who suddenly realised she was leading a sedentary life. At the end of 2016 she took up NW and this is a picture of her in a Workout Walk (having climbed her first hill!)

By September 2017 when the next picture was taken Emma was competing in the Purbeck 16 mile challenge and had lost 3 stone. Now she is over 4 stone lighter and works at NWUK HQ!

Emma says the challenge gave her the motivation to work hard and is contemplating the 27 event in 2018!

“Having taken up Nordic Walking late last year, encouraged by my wife, I feel that I can honestly claim that it has helped me recover both fitness and body strength after a bad dose of arthritis some three years earlier. Medication helped overcome the initial effects of the arthritis, but soon this gave way to some of the more unpleasant side effects. The most severe of these was an attack on my gut lining resulting in poor absorption of food, which caused me to drop in weight from 12 stones to 9 stones. I am also type 2 diabetic, which means that I have to control my diet carefully.

Stopping taking the medication and avoiding certain food types saw my weight increase to 11 stone, where it has stabilised. Now, having taken up Nordic Walking, I have noticed that I feel much stronger, can walk much further than I have been able to for over three years – and a welcome side effect appears to be that my blood sugars have fallen to their lowest levels for some three to four years. And all of this whilst meeting a great bunch of people!”

It all started about 9 months ago when at the ripe old age of 64 my doctor informed me that my blood sugar levels were getting rather high and I was on the verge of clicking over into the the Type 2 Diabetes zone. He suggested I lose some weight and take more exercise. I wasn’t massively overweight (about 6 kg) but over the years had stopped taking regular exercise. What was worse was that the extra weight was all being carried in the worst possible place i.e. around the middle.

Luckily, my wife had seen a piece on breakfast TV about Nordic Walking. I was sceptical about trying it, since I thought what can walking do for a bloke of my age, but she insisted we give it a go. Thank God she did.

So what’s the position after 8 months of Nordic walking:-

  • I have lost about 4kg in weight
  • I have lost 2 inches off my waist
  • My blood sugar levels are near the normal category for a bloke of my age
  • I feel fitter, stronger and have more stamina and endurance.

– Gerry

‘I started Nordic walking in September and already it has had a significant impact on my life.  Not only is it an extremely enjoyable way to exercise that I very much look forward to, but I have also noticed some significant health benefits.  My posture has noticeably improved which makes exercise much easier, more efficient and pleasurable to do.  However, for many years I have suffered quite severe digestive problems and much to my surprise since I have taken up Nordic walking this has completely disappeared and has not returned. I can see now how bad posture impacts on my body in many ways including my digestive system.  A final unexpected additional bonus,  I have actually lost weight.’

– Richard

I was looking for an alternative form of exercise when I had to give up swimming after developing a sensitivity to chlorine. I had heard about Nordic Walking and decided to try it. I found my Instructor through the Nordic Walking website and attended one of her courses to learn how to do it. I liked it from the start as it involves the upper body as well as the legs and provides a good work out. She is an excellent teacher and supports the mixed ability groups very well on the Adventure Walks. I also enjoy the social side, with conversation as we walk and some après walk treats in tearooms and pubs. Swimming lengths wasn’t very sociable!

– Diana

I was acutely aware, for some time, of the need to introduce some sort of exercise into my busy but largely sedentary routine. Given my age and gender – not to mention appalling levels of fitness and a gradually worsening weight problem – I have an aversion to gyms. I read about Nordic Walking and decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did! The walks are always in varied and scenic locations and leave me feeling energised. Despite having mild arthritis I have found that walking with poles helps to reduce the stress placed on joints and provides an enjoyable workout – it even burns more calories – hurrah! Being able to book walks in advance helps to keep me motivated and each walk is sociable and fun. Kate is a great teacher – her enthusiasm is infectious and she is extremely supportive and encouraging towards every member of the group. I would recommend Nordic walking to anyone wishing to improve or maintain their fitness level and who likes ‘the great outdoors’!

– Andrea

I have decided to Nordic walk 500 miles in 2018 but that’s something I would never have imagined I would ever do!

My husband John died 6 years ago and I was totally exhausted, run down, lost and overweight. I joined Slimming World and started to lose weight. I knew I had to get fit and I was blessed to find Nordic walking and Mercian Nordic Walking in particular. The support from Ian, my Instructor has been amazing.

I now want to combine my love of Nordic walking with fundraising for the homeless charity Socks and Chocs which was set up by Ian.

I would like other Nordic walkers across the country to join me in this goal of Nordic walking 500 miles by opening up their own Virgin Money page for Socks and Chocs or simply donate to my quest via this link.


Nordic Walking offers more than just fitness, it offers a new way to enjoy life and meet new friends and proves that there is life after a sad loss.

– Lynne


If you have a FREEDOM passport already, search for a range of fun walks and simply book in on line. Nordic walkers without a FREEDOM passport can gain one with a participating Instructor via a quick ‘refresher’ session – let us know if you would like us to arrange this for you – e mail support@nordicwalking.co.uk

Gift Ideas for Nordic Walkers

It’s the season to be Jolly which is perfect for Nordic Walkers who are a smiley bunch all year round, as you can see from the amazing pictures in our Calendar (which is available to buy for only £7.50! – click HERE)

However, they can be tricky to buy gifts for, especially if you don’t have a clue about Nordic Walking Poles, Waist packs and essential Nordic Walking Kit.

Have no fear, at Nordic Walking UK we have put together some lovely gifts that will suit avid Nordic walkers, occasional Nordic walkers and even wannabe Nordic walkers!


Obviously Nordic Walking Poles are a good place to start and our tip is to make sure they are adjustable and made of good quality materials. there’s nothing as infuriating as a pair of poles that rattle, are the wrong height or can’t be lengthened as your NW technique improves. Our experts will help you get it right.

If you are buying poles for a Beginner, why not buy them lessons too – our gift vouchers will provide the Nordic Walking UK FREEDOM programme (plus FREE Membership of NWUK) with a local participating Instructor and you can team them up with poles, our best selling Nordic walking book and other kit too!

Click HERE to see the gift packs


If your gift is for somebody who already Nordic walks, chances are they will have their poles already. However, it could be something they are looking to upgrade (maybe from aluminium to carbon or simply a better brand such as Leki or Gabel). Like all enthusiasts, it’s nice to have the best or latest kit, especially if you have improved or are doing more than ever. Our most popular quality pole in 2017 has been the sleek black Fizan Carbon pro which is stylish and super light too.


Other key items for Nordic Walkers are lightweight backpacks, waist bags and even bags to carry their poles when in transit – A Backpack needs to be fairly narrow on the back in order to not impede the  Nordic Walking arm swing action and all need to be comfortable and well fitted. Avoid cheap backpacks that do not have padded straps and a design which prevents the back from getting too sweaty. Check out our recommendations HERE


At this time of year, every Nordic walker needs to have a pair of gloves that do not make their pole straps too tight and a good pair of socks to keep their extremities warm!  Waterproof socks like the Sealskinz are a great option if shoes are not waterproof too. See the range HERE. Of course if they really want to look like a Nordic Walking pro, a bit of NWUK Purple goes a long way and this Purple Package contains all the essential NWUK branded items you could ever need

If you are still stumped for ideas, give our experts a call or pop in to our fully refurbished NWUK store in Dorset where we can offer you a cup of tea as we help you choose the perfect prezzie  from the largest range of Nordic walking products in the UK!

Parcels of nordic walking poles leaving NWUK HQ in Dorset


We are based just outside Corfe Castle on the Kingston Road towards Swanage. Postcode is BH19 3JP – Open every day 9 – 5 and Saturdays 10 – 2  Call us on 0333 1234 540

CAN’T MAKE IT IN PERSON? –  Order online for next day delivery and superior customer service. We only stock good quality NORDIC WALKING POLES and we know the difference!




Stay safe and upright this winter!

TOP TIP 1 – Stay Warm

It sounds obvious but getting cold is not only unpleasant, it can be dangerous too. Our ability to make decisions is greatly impaired if we get chilled and the risk of incidents or the ability to cope if one does occur is greatly increased.

Make sure you layer up and ALWAYS take a spare layer or at least a FOIL BLANKET out in severe weather

TOP TIP 2 – Be Seen

Although NWUK Purple can be seen in all conditions, be aware that white clothing will make you invisible in snowy or grey conditions and dark colours are not great in fog or if the light is poor. A lightweight hi Viz Gilet can be popped over your usual clothing and is super light. Pop one in your backpack to make sure you can be seen and perhaps even found in the case of an incident. This GILET is less than HALF price so snap one up FAST!

Pole lights, head torches and even flashing paws can also help you to be seen in poor conditions so make sure you have at least one in your backpack. Our Winter safe

TOP TIP 3 Stay upright!

We don’t advise that you Nordic Walk on icy pavements but you can Nordic Walk in soft snow as long as you check it’s not icy underneath and stick to grassy areas rather than harder surfaces. We love MERRELL shoes here at NWUK because they have Vibram soles which are great in slippy conditions and super comfy too. We also use Ice cleats or additional grips in the snow – try the HALF PRICE  ARTIMATE SNOW GRIPS.

TOP TIP 4 Keep feet and fingers dry!

Its always an idea to have shoes that are waterproof to stop you getting wet feet which will chill down very quickly and cause the rest of you to do likewise. An alternative option would be to use WATERPROOF SOCKS which are actually more comfortable than you would imagine and really do work! Sealskinz also do a range of waterproof gloves which make a huge difference in icy rain – much better than soggy wool which just makes your digits turn blue!

Our Purple warmer pack contains a Life Venture hot drinks flask

TOP TIP 5 – Carry a hot drink!

No, not a huge great Thermos but a small thermal leak-proof drinks carrier that is no bigger than a water bottle! We are bonkers about these little life venture drinks flasks here at HQ and that’s not just because they are purple (although that helps!). Just using hot water and a herbal teabag rather than your water can make all the difference when temperatures drop. It will encourage you to rehydrate and keep your core temperature up at the same time. Not to mention the caffeine boost if coffee is your tipple!

So no excuses chaps – keep Nordic Walking whatever the weather!


It’s a small (Nordic walking) world

Anthony leading a walk at the Purbeck Nordic Walking Festival 2017

Nordic walk leader Anthony Prior and his wife, Carol, live in Hertfordshire but have a holiday home in Swanage near NWUK HQ. They use their FREEDOM passports to browse and book walks in both areas and this led to Anthony becoming a leader in both areas too. Now also a key member of the Purbeck Festival Team, Anthony wasn’t always a healthy active individual and his story includes a surprising coincidence!

Although he is now an enthusiast for the health and fitness benefits of Nordic walking, Anthony suffered two heart attacks in 1999. He made a full recovery after joining a cardiac rehabilitation programme at his local hospital in Hertfordshire and he believes he is now fitter than ever.

Anthony in his stride

‘We love to get down to Swanage when we can and Nordic walking has been a good introduction to this lovely area,’ says Anthony who was soon persuaded by the HQ team to plan and lead some of the festival routes – see him below with his 4 leaders route packs!

‘I found I had more local knowledge than I thought,’ Anthony recalls. ‘It was good to share it with the Nordic walkers at the Festival.’

It was quite a surprise when out on one of the group recce routes last Summer that Anthony recognised one of the other walkers. It was his former rehab therapist from the Cardiac rehab scheme who is now a NWUK Instructor. Shirley Cannon has relocated to the Swanage area and regularly leads walks with Purbeck Nordic Walking but she previously worked for ten years in cardiac rehabilitation creating bespoke exercise programmes for a range of patients, including Anthony!

Festival Walk Leaders Anthony, his wife Carol, and Sally Challis with their Walk Leader packs

Now both are busy planning more exciting activities for the 2018 Festival and spreading the word about Nordic walking which Anthony enjoys because it is FUN! ‘I think it is great and would much rather go Nordic walking than go to the gym, which I find boring by comparison,’ he concludes.




Have you considered the possibility of being a Nordic Walking Instructor in the past?

Are you a current Instructor ready for the next step?

Do you fancy a new career in Outdoor Fitness?


This might be the opportunity you have been waiting for.

In 2018 we will be concentrating on areas of the UK where it is not easy to find a NWUK class or gain your FREEDOM passport and we are looking for the right people to represent us. If you are a Team player who cares about other people and have the energy and enthusiasm to make things happen …WE WANT TO TALK TO YOU!

Our unique EXERCISE ANYWHERE DIPLOMA is NOT just another training course – it’s a business in a box and we can help you to launch a programme that works for you. Be part of the fastest growing Health Club in the UK and join other NWUK Instructors, to benefit from support, workshops and proven programmes plus a huge amount of PR from an experienced, motivated HQ Team

Call us to discuss how we can help you to develop a satisfying career which will keep you fit and help others to achieve their goals too.

We offer two packages depending on your ambition and lifestyle. Both will enable you to be part of our National network and deliver our award-winning FREEDOM programme. Click here to find out more about the programme.



    Ideal for somebody who wants to develop a part time programme with less focus on business or growth (or to support an existing Instructor). Typically our Brand Ambassadors are those who want to deliver a couple of classes a week or possibly integrate NW into a current wellbeing or fitness business. NWUK offer constant support and everything needed to set up classes, promote them and take bookings plus FREEDOM passports and a host of benefits for clients.


Our delivery partner Instructors are more focused on building a comprehensive programme that can be a full time job or generate significant income. They work with NWUK to build a ‘club’ that will often include a range of class levels such as wellbeing, ski fit and even eating plans. They will manage a much wider programme with the use of walk leaders and will typically offer several sessions a week for all levels. To help them launch and grow quickly, we offer a more comprehensive training and support package which includes business, sales and marketing training, an on line marketing tool kit and optional personalised website. As we appreciate the pressures of setting up a new venture, we spread the cost of this additional support into 12 monthly payments. This enables our Delivery partners to be generating income immediately and to spread the cost of setting up over their first year in business rather than before the start!.

We are seeking TEAM PLAYERS who want to make a difference and have the drive and enthusiasm to make things happen! Apply now for more information. Still not convinced – Come to meet us at our HQ in Dorset or call us to book into one of our regular REGIONAL DISCOVERY DAYS in 2018. E mail lindsay@nordicwalking.co.uk or call 0333 1234 540


Can I train to be an NWUK Instructor and deliver outside the FREEDOM programme?

NO – Since 2014 it has been a mandatory part of the NWUK training process to be able to deliver the licensed FREEDOM programme, issue Passports and ensure that participants enjoy the full benefits of the Exercise Anywhere booking portal. We are committed to our vision and can prove that those who deliver with our support and methods are building brilliant programmes and retaining their customers whilst those who ‘go it alone’ fall into all the pitfalls we have worked hard to overcome for you!

Can I set up anywhere?

YES although, If we have a successful Delivery Partner in an area, we would ensure you aim to work in partnership with them to enhance the range of sessions in the Area before advising you to train. Otherwise, If we believe you have the right vision and have something to offer in an area where there is demand for our programmes ………. we are there to support you!

Are there any ongoing costs?

In year one a Delivery Partner will pay a monthly support fee to gain the additional tools and knowledge whilst a Brand Ambassador pays an annual fee of £125 in order to remain live on the NWUK website and have access to updates and support. (This is included in the initial course fee for year one) Costs of ongoing support, live listing, PR, financial reports, and access to the tools and systems are covered by a small percentage of all income taken in order to ensure support fees accurately reflect the level of delivery that suits the individual. This percentage is lower for Delivery Partners as they are committed to building larger programmes.

Is NWUK a Franchise?

NO – we operate a licensed model in that we provide you with a very detailed model of delivery with all the materials and tools required to be successful. The material is far more than a simple Instructor training course would provide and we are dedicated to ensuring the experience of the Public attending our groups have access to a programme that is inspirational and standardised across the UK. We are proud of the model which has taken a combined 60 years of Industry experience to put together and our successful delivery Partners are proof that it works and is fair. The success of our programme is that we work tirelessly to ensure our Instructors succeed and they in turn represent the Brand in their area, deliver our quality programmes and benefit form our National promotion.

I am an Instructor but do not deliver the FREEDOM programme yet – can I upgrade to deliver it?

Absolutely! All you need to do is come on the FREEDOM programme training day or the DIPLOMA and want to be a Team Player! We want to help you to become part of our exciting concept.


Pole walking for neurological conditions

At Nordic Walking UK we are delighted that Nordic walking has been recognised as the amazing rehabilitation tool that it is. However, we do also get concerned that in some instances, actual ‘Nordic’ walking technique and poles are not necessarily the perfect and simplest solution. We therefore feel it’s important to clarify the term and ensure that it does simply become a ‘catch all’ for pole or stick walking in general which could lead to inappropriate or contraindicated exercise being adopted in some cases.

Our team of experts cover all aspects of ‘POLE walking’ and acknowledge that the strict Nordic walking technique (which is based on a cross country ski coaching) and the associated poles with integral glove like straps (as shown), may NOT be the best solution for those with certain conditions.

In cases of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease and Multiple sclerosis, poles without the traditional Nordic walking strap may be preferable. No, we don’t mean old fashioned trekking poles with a simple looped strap (as shown) either! Fitness walking poles that are specially designed to provide an upright posture and additional support can be ideal and as the walker is not literally strapped in safer too. In some cases, it is not advised that  the user is actually strapped to the pole at all as it can increase the possibility of trips and falls and in some instances cause additional injury should they ever actually fall. Typical Nordic Walking poles are also used at an angle in order to gain forward propulsion via the straps and this is not always appropriate.


At NWUK we have embraced the Exerstrider technique and strapless walking poles developed by pole walking Pioneer Tom Rutlin for many years and we now work closely with Urban Poling who have further evolved this concept in Canada. Mandy Shintani BSc (OT), MA from Urban poling has developed this unique ergonomic handle which can provide many of the key benefits of Nordic Walking but without the need for straps or the need to master Nordic Walking technique.

Like Nordic Walking poles the Urban Poling Activator poles provide upper body engagement, reduce the pressure on lower body joints and add an exercise element plus stability for the walker. In fact, the ledge on the side of the handle actually provides additional stability for those who lose balance and a more upright posture which helps the user to look forwards rather than down. It is almost like having  a small shelf on the side of the handle which can also prove beneficial should the user feel in need of a pause or rest in order to regain their stride. 

Another key benefit is that the Activator poles have a simple push button height adjustment and extremely stable, flexible  rubber ferrules on the bottom of the poles (as shown). The poles are extremely comfortable and simple to use and in many cases transform the walking experience for the user. They are ideal in a clinical setting and as a daily walking aid that is lightweight and portable. It is possible to master their use without tuition although we advise seeking this where possible in order to get maximum benefits from their use.

So, are we saying that only Activator poles should be used for those with Neurological conditions? Absolutely not! We have seen some amazing examples where traditional Nordic walking technique and poles have worked wonders too. These conditions can be complex and each sufferer is an individual so we really want both professionals and potential pole converts to be armed with the facts and the choice to make an informed decision based on their needs and goals.

One thing we definitely do advise though is that if you do choose the more sporty, Nordic style poles and technique PLEASE ensure you learn how to do it properly. The NWUK Freedom programme is a 4 session course that will help you maximise the straps in order to gain forward propulsion and a real exercise affect. This will ensure that you do not simply end up walking with poles that you are strapped to!


  1. Check the height adjustment on the pole shaft and adjust accordingly
  2. Check the handles to make sure that you have each ergonomic handle in the correct hand – they are clearly marked with L and R and this will immediately ensure you have the ‘shelf’ on the outer edge in order to provide stability and an upright stance.
  3. Begin to walk with the poles in front of you at all times and keep your elbows softly bent as you move forward using the natural movement of opposite arm and leg forward at any time. Try to ensure that you use the shoulder joint to move the arm forward rather than simply bending the elbow as this will encourage a wider range of movement

Mandy and the NWUK Physio team have developed specific training modules for NWUK Instructors who deliver our Wellbeing programmes and they will often be able to offer both tuition and walks.(subject to their qualifications and the nature of your condition) Find your local group here

To view the URBAN POLING ACTIVATOR and other strapless walking poles click here 

NWUK can also offer talks and demos for specific support groups and clinical workshops for professionals. Our one day training courses for Physiotherapists, OT’s and other rehabilitation specialists covers all aspects of pole walking and can help with signposting people to suitable sessions too. View our training courses here

Come and see us at PHYSIOTHERAPY UK 10 – 11 November Birmingham click here for more details


NEW Membership benefits

NWUK Membership just got even better!

The NWUK Membership card will now give you 15% discount in Blacks, Millets and Ultimate Outdoors as well as Cotswold Outdoor and Rohan. Show your card in store or log in to your membership account on nordicwalking.co.uk

Here at NWUK we have been working hard to find new benefits for our members, like Aquapac drybags, a range of nifty waterproof phone cases, camera cases, backpacks and multi-purposes dry sacks. Aquapac offer a generous 20% discount in their online store to NWUK members – and that includes sale items!

See all the other benefits here…

Membership is only £9.95 but if you have completed the FREEDOM programme and have a unique CC code you can join for FREE for the first year (£2.50 p and p for the membership pack). You can sign up using your CC code at nordicwalking.co.uk