Nordic Walking is known for being a really sociable way to exercise, this is great for motivation but can actually affect the results that people get from the activity as time goes on. It’s easy to fall into the trap of Nordic walking without actually gaining maximum benefit from the poles because technique has slipped as we enjoy a good chin wag with the rest of the group!
How many of us have noticed that the amazing results we got when we first started nordic walking have slowed down despite going out regularly? OK, we are more active than we used to be and thoroughly enjoying it so perhaps it doesn’t really matter if we are no longer using the poles effectively. True, BUT if we want to achieve goals like improved health and weight loss we do need to make sure that we continue to progress and get the most out of our poles or we will not actually continue to IMPROVE our fitness levels.
Nordic Walking UK Instructors will always balance the need to provide sociable, relaxed sessions with a degree of motivation to try a wee bit harder every now and then. Many hold specific workout walks for those looking to get results whilst others will introduce occasional technique refresher sessions or drills to encourage the group to work a bit harder. Many report that their regular walkers often slip into not really engaging the full power of the upper body, and over bending at the elbow which in turn reduces the stride length. In short ….they’re not really propelling themselves forward any more!
Instructors can spot these things and know when to step in but how can we all check just how effective our technique is?
Here’s a simple little test that can be done pretty much anywhere but is EVEN more effective when performed on a slight uphill climb.
All you need to do is to Nordic Walk at optimum pace and focus on a tree, lamppost or park bench etc in the near distance. Keep Nordic Walking as you approach this marker but as you pass it LIFT YOUR POLES whilst keeping the legs moving at exactly the same pace. If you have been using your poles correctly, you should feel a marked deceleration in speed and your legs should feel heavy.
If you perform this check and you only notice a slight difference, it’s time to pop back to your Instructor to re visit how your upper body is being used. Chances are, you are using mainly arm power and not engaging the larger muscles which means you are not getting that all important power through the poles.