Benefits of a walking exercise are clearly seen.

Benefits of a walking exercise are clearly seen here.

A common misconception that many have is that a good walking exercise program really does not do much.  In other words, they feel that you must “hurt” that is, “no pain, no gain” in order to get any real benefit from exercising.  Not true!

So what is walking exercise and how can we get the most out of it?  Consider some of my earlier posts about walking and the many, many benefits that come…seemingly overnight.

The Nordic Walking Pole

Promoting the Nordic walking pole is one thing, but in order to see it’s quick results, we need to know how to use these tools.  In my previous blog, we covered some of the basics to start with.  We concluded with the thought that once we learn a bad “habit” in our routine, it can be a challenge to rid ourselves of it.

Let’s consider what these bad “habits” are while we are learning to use Nordic walking poles and how to avoid them.

Errors In Our Walking Technique

Walking all of our life, we may have in mind that we “already know how to walk” and don’t need to be shown how.  If that is your thinking, then stop reading now.  On the other hand, if you recognize that all of us can learn from someone else, then keep on reading.

Using Nordic poles can be an adventure, especially when we do so with friends who walk with us.  However, caution needs to be exercised whenever we start a new type of exercise program.  With Nordic walking poles, it takes about six to eight weeks to really learn-the-ropes.

Common mistakes that are made at first are overextending our steps, that is, taking too large of a step.  Doing too much at first can cause strains to joints, lower back and groin.  Often times once someone has hurt themselves, more than likely, they’ll not continue any type exercise program.

Though we do want a firm grip on the handle of our walking pole, we need to learn the technique of how and when…to totally release the handles.   Too much grip (I call it the Gorilla Grip) can strain our wrists, lower back, shoulders and elbows.

When walking, stand erect.  Keep your chin up.  Many have the habit of leaning forward, their head leading the way.  This is counterproductive to trying to build back muscles as we walk so good posture comes naturally when we are not in our exercise walking routine.

Naturally we want to bend our elbows as we walk.  In the beginning, during the slower learning walk, that is acceptable.  On the other hand, as we progress, we want to walk faster.   Bending our elbows too much can cause us to lose any potential benefits.  At this point (faster walks) we need to increase the length of our poles.

The adjustable type Nordic walking pole is one of the best.

Be sure that you have a natural arm swing as you walk, arms swinging in opposition to each leg.

Keep your upper body straight, chin up, (don’t look down but look to the horizon).  Often times the bad habit of slumped shoulders show up.  Keep shoulders up while allowing your upper torso to slightly rotate from side to side in a twisting motion.

Note also that if your poles are too long for you, then more than likely you’ll be over flexing or over extending your wrists during your walks.  Keep in mind that as you plant each pole tip, the swing of your arm should be from the shoulder, not the elbow.

If you note that after your walks you little finger is a bit overworked, you have what is called “painter’s grip” as if your pole were a paintbrush or perhaps a pencil.  Try to relax your hands while still gripping the pole.

Make sure your thumb is wrapped around your pole.  We are pole walking, not hitchhiking.

Proper grips

Proper grips

The release of the pole handle should occur when your hand reaches the hip area.  Often times new ones open their hands in the front of themselves with fingers extending outward.   Always be aware that your hands should hold firmly to the pole except at the release point…at your hip.

Walk slowly as you begin this program.  Many will overdo it by too large or open steps with too much walking speed.  Concentrate on your technique at first, then when you feel the fluid motion of each movement, without having to think about it, you have achieved your goal.

This will still take about six to eight weeks though.

Each step should be heel first.  Then roll your foot to your toe for a stepping point.

Injuries can occur when you rush.  The Tips of our poles should be firmly planted.  From that point, we can take our next step.

Now that we’ve mastered the Nordic walking exercise, how can we build strength, cardiovascular, and build power within ourselves?

Our goal is to be fit and enjoy ourselves while out of doors.

Written by:  Tom McDaniel Be sure to click SHARE button

Photos by: relievejointinflamation,masterfile