All about the poles
Getting the correct poles is the most important thing to concentrate on when starting to Nordic Walk - it is also important not to confuse these with ordinary trekking or walking poles.
Nordic Walking poles are specially designed to work in harmony with the correct Nordic Walking technique – ensuring that the movement is fluid and that the poles become an extension of the body. This is why it is also important to ensure that the poles are the correct size for the participant.
NWUK recommend using adjustable poles that are specifically designed for Nordic Walking. WE ARE AWARE OF WEBSITES THAT WARN AGAINST ADJUSTABLE NORDIC WALKING POLES BUT WE HAVE OVER 1,000 INSTRUCTORS CURRENTLY TEACHING WITH ADJUSTABLE NORDIC WALKING POLES AND HAVE NEVER HAD AN INCIDENT OF THESE COLLAPSING. These warnings are irresponsible and unfounded and in our opinion it is more important to get the correct height of pole and this can often alter according to experience and fitness level so ADJUSTABLE poles are advisable for those just starting out!
Good Nordic walking poles have a special 'glove' for the hand to aid the correct technique and removable rubber paws to enable the walker to vary terrain from pavements to country paths.
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Nordic Walking poles have 3 main components
1. The Pole Shaft
2. The Grip / Hand strap
3. The Basket / Paw
There are two basic types of pole shaft - Fixed and Adjustable. The benefit of an adjustable pole is that you can always get the PRECISE height in order to maximise the efficiency of your technique. You can also alter the height of the pole for climbing up and down hills. Adjustable poles are also easier to transport as they fold down into a neat size.
Some Nordic Walking prefer to use a one peice shaft as this can reduce the vibration felt through the shaft, however this is very much a personal preference and it is really important to get EXACTLY the right height for you as there is little room for error. Some manufacturers offer a lifetime guarantee on the shaft of their Nordic Walking poles ( fixed length poles only) The shaft is made up of exceptionally durable carbon fibre, which makes the pole both strong and light. The shaft is tapered towards the bottom making the pole feel even lighter (low apparent swing weight) when used with good Nordic walking technique.
Those starting out as Nordic Walkers need only be concerned about getting the correct size of pole but once Nordic Walking regularly, it is important to select a pole that reflects the amount of use and effort you are going to be applying.
Nordic Walking is great for any terrain but it is important to use the correct tip according to whether you are walking on tarmac or rural surfaces. Poles come with a variety of tips but the basic poles all come with a removable tarmac ‘Paw’ which is suitable for hard surfaces – this covers a small spike that is great for grassy paths. The ‘Paws’ are fully replaceable.
Grip / Handstrap
The hand grips and straps are designed to offer outstanding power transfer and support to the Nordic Walker – this is where the poles differ from those used for trekking and hiking
Most Nordic Walking poles have an ergonomically designed grip, rather than a straight handle, that much more comfortably fits the shape of user’s hand.
The strap supports the hand from underneath only, as having part of a strap come around the thumb (like a glove) often pinches and can cause discomfort in some users. Once adjusted, the strap is fixed, with no risk of coming loose.
Leki poles now have an innovative hand strap that stays on the hand and not the pole and can be clicked on and off to the pole in order to make it easier to use the hands for zipping up coats, wiping noses and taking a drink! Our Instructors also report that this makes life much easier when climbing stiles and reading maps too!