Every day more and more people are practicing this sport, for its health benefits, to be in contact with nature or for many other reasons. As in any activity Nordic Walking has its characteristics and peculiarities that we must know to practice it properly, so let's discover what it is and how to start.
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At first Nordic Walking was considered an easy sport that was usually practiced on smooth and uncomplicated surfaces. But little by little its practice has spread and there are already many who practice it in the mountains and on rough terrain.
It is an activity or walking modality that basically consists of walking with the help of specific poles and with a specific technique. It is important to differentiate between hiking poles and Nordic walking poles, since both their characteristics and the technique of use are somewhat different.
But let's start at the beginning, Nordic Walking emerged as a way of training for cross-country skiers, in summer periods, and shares many similarities with this sport. Hence, the poles used are similar to those of cross-country skiing, allowing the upper body to work, helping us to propel ourselves, thus completing the exercise. With the practice of Nordic walking we exercise up to 90% of the muscles of the human body. Arms, shoulders and trunk by the use of poles, and of course the legs while walking.
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The main advantage of Nordic walking is that you don't have to be a great athlete to practice it, as you can even do it in urban areas such as parks or promenades, adapting the route to your initial abilities.
One of the reasons for its current boom are the physical, mental and coordination benefits of this activity. Like other endurance sports, if we practice Nordic walking regularly, we will notice positive cardiovascular and respiratory effects. Without forgetting that it will help us with back, neck, shoulders, etc. discomfort. For his technique helps to combat diseases such as arthrosis, without forgetting the benefits it brings to mental and mood level, with what this entails for our health.
However, as with everything in life, knowing how to use Nordic walking poles and walking technique is vitally important to get the most out of their benefits, and also to reduce the risk of injury.
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An essential tool for the practice of Nordic walking are the poles, another important part is undoubtedly the style or technique we choose Nordic Walking. So let's get started:
In general, the poles for this sport are thinner and less heavy than those used for hiking and mountaineering. There are two types of poles, the fixed ones, the most advisable, and the height-adjustable or telescopic ones. In either case, it is advisable that the tip is equipped with a beveled rubber tip to cushion the blows and improve the grip. Another important part of the Nordic walking pole is the strap that allows us to hold the pole to our wrist and contributes to improve the thrust exerted by the arm.
How to use the Nordic Walking pole
Once we have our Nordic Walking poles we will have to adjust their height, and if we have bought them fixed we should have taken this factor into account, since it is vital for a correct walking technique. To know how tall our poles should be we can make a simple calculation, we must multiply our height in meters by 0,68. This figure may change depending on the style of Nordic walking we do, being 0.70 or 0.66 for our height.
The position of the poles also has its importance, usually in standing our arm and forearm should form an angle of 90 °, allowing us to maintain a posture as upright and healthy as possible. In addition, when gripping the pole we must also observe a specific method, holding the handle tightly to push with the arms and of course making use of the dragonera, which usually has a specific design for this type of activity. Subsequently, when the arms go backwards and reach the height of the body, we release the handle to facilitate the extension of the arm and the body, in order to grab the handle when we return to the pole.
How to support the Nordic Walking pole
Another important factor is the support point of the pole, which must be equal to the center of gravity of our body to improve the displacement. As we will see, there are different techniques among Nordic Walking enthusiasts and this influences the style when it comes to supporting the pole, but in general terms it should be placed at the midpoint of a stride, between the two feet or axis of gravity of our body, forming an angle of between 45º to 50º with the ground.
Here are some examples of Nordic Walking poles
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We have already seen the importance of the poles for Nordic Walking and their use, but no less important is the posture of our body and its movement, that is to say, the Nordic Walking technique. In fact, there are several Nordic Walking techniques or methodologies such as the ten-step technique, the original technique and the Alpha 247. We will not go into the particularities that differentiate each one of them, but we will look at the general concepts that we should consider.
A good posture is the key, it is essential to keep the spine or trunk straight, the movement of the arms should be relaxed giving the full amplitude of the arm to the movement. The steps should be neither too long nor too short as when walking normally, if you look at experienced people their steps are as long as the movement made by their arms, or at least that is the theory.
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Coordination of the movement
Surely for many of us this is the most complicated point that we are going to find, although once we get into the matter it will not be as fierce as it seemed. Basically the trick is to bring forward the opposite arm to the leg in front of us, that is to say if my right arm is in front my left leg must also be in front and vice versa. Or if you prefer if my right arm is in front my right leg will be behind. Like everything in life is a matter of practice, slowly at first to pick up speed little by little.