Like when driving, it is really easy to fall into bad habits when out pole walking (especially if you are chatting!)
Some Instructors are very strict on technique whilst others will only ‘nag’ you when you are taking part in workout walks or if you are seeking maximum results FAST but are not putting in the effort. However there are three simple drills which you can do at any time to check if you are letting things slide or taking things a tad too easy!
TIP 1 – ARM SWING
- The key to getting a good Nordic Walking action is to engage the major upper body muscles and not just the upper arm. This means you have to concentrate and swing a straight arm until the hand is at handshake height.
If you then plant the pole at a backward angle and use your strap to push forward – you will have made use of all those powerful big upper body muscles. Next time you are out with your poles, pop a sticker on the inside of your elbow and if it disappears when you are poling…….you are bending the arm too much and therefore only using the arm muscles!
TIP 2 – POLE POWER
Another common ‘lazy technique habit’ is to go through the motions of Nordic walking but without actually putting mush power through the poles. The best way to test for this is to walk using the poles and then stop using them but still swing the arms as if you are (simply keep the tips off the ground). If you do not slow down much and/or feel heavier on your feet, the chances are you are not pushing hard enough on the poles to propel you forward. Remember, you should push hard enough onto the poles to really engage the upper body, take the weight off your feet and PROPEL you forward. This drill works really well on a slight incline too.
TIP 3 A CLEAN ‘PLANT’
This literally is a tip (well photo of where one goes into the ground anyway) If you are swinging form the shoulder and lifting the poles forward slightly before you ‘plant’ them into the ground, they should leave a clean hole in the ground as shown in the picture on the left.
However, if you do not swing far enough forward to take the hand high enough to lift the pole it may engage with the ground too early causing it to drag along (which reduces your power) and the tell tell signs will be a drag line before the plant point which is usually less marked and deep as a result. If you can’t find ground where you leave the signs try using a hard surface for this drill and simply listen to the noise your pole tips make as you use them. You should hear a clear tap and not a scrape and tap. If you are using rubber paws a lot. another sign of poor planting is uneven wear to the front or back of the paw. Wrongly sized poles can cause poor planting so if you are finding it hard to master this drill – ask your local NWUK to check out your pole height and technique for you.
Have fun and remember………… don’t take it too easy if you want to really experience the power of your poles!
Tips provided by Gill Stewart Author of the Complete Guide to Nordic Walking and the UK HQ Team.