Nordic Walking is easy on the joints

Nordic Walking is easy on the joints

Many different muscles are used during Nordic walking. This full-body workout is also reflected in the calorie consumption: A Nordic walker burns an average of between 400 and 500 calories per hour – depending on the intensity of the exercise. Older people and people with joint problems, in particular, can improve their endurance, mobility, strength and coordination with this gentle sport.

How does Nordic walking work?

In principle, Nordic walking works like cross-country skiing, but you don’t need mountains or snow. Nordic Walking is not for speed fanatics, although, as a beginner, you get out of breath relatively quickly.

Nordic walking is almost brisk walking with ski poles. Pushing off the ground with the ski poles intensively trains the chest, shoulder and arm muscles. At the same time, the ankles are relieved.


Who is Nordic walking suitable for?

The sport suits everyone who wants to stay fit and improve their endurance.

Nordic walking is an ideal sport for overweight people,  as it protects the knee joints. Nordic walking is also an appropriate way for older people to exercise because the poles provide security when walking.

Nordic walking as a full-body workout

Nordic walking is an ideal training method for burning fat,  as many different muscles are used. Nordic walking also improves your heart, circulation and metabolism, provides more endurance, and strengthens the entire body.

The stress heart rate is about 15 beats higher than regular walking, and the calorie consumption is 20 to 55 per cent higher. The subjective load is only slightly increased because more muscles are loaded in an optimal area instead of moving fewer muscles more intensively.


Nordic Walking: Stick length is important

To practice Nordic Walking, you need:

  • good running shoes
  • loose, breathable clothing
  • special sticks – if possible, made of a carbon-glass fibre mixture

The stick should be so long that you can form a maximum right angle in the elbow joint when standing upright. A slightly larger angle is better. The rule of thumb for stick length is height in centimetres x 0.7 = stick length in centimetres. Rubber protection at the pole’s tip absorbs impacts and noise on asphalt or other hard surfaces. The protection can be easily removed for Nordic walking on soft ground.

The proper running technique for Nordic Walking

Anyone who has already done cross-country skiing will learn the technique quickly and easily: the right leg and left arm swing forward together – and vice versa. The upper body is slightly bent forward.

Stride length and pole position are essential: the stride should be longer than usual. The stick is a few inches behind the heel of the front foot. The front arm should be slightly bent and in front of the body. The front hand grips the stick tightly. The rear, relaxed hand is behind the pelvis, with the arm stretched out and the hand open – this relaxes the muscles again.

You use strength and body tension when using sticks because the entire upper body is trained only then. It is essential that the rear arm is fully extended and the fingers are entirely open. The stick cannot fall off because it is attached to the hand by a glove-like loop.

Trained trainers for seniors and beginners

A big mistake is to teach yourself the technique of Nordic walking. Because that often goes wrong: If, for example, you use the stick with your arm bent, it can lead to heavy impact loads in the elbow and shoulder joints—the resulting tension and pain in the neck and shoulders.

If you haven’t done any sport for years, you should start with a simple training program after consulting your family doctor. Trained trainers can help with this.


Scientific investigations

The Institute for Rehabilitation Sports, Sports Therapy and Sports for the Disabled in the Faculty of Sports Sciences at the University of Leipzig investigated how Nordic Walking can be used to rehabilitate cardiac patients. The scientists found that the patients immensely enjoyed the Nordic walking training.

They also felt safer than walking without sticks, and their subjective perception of exertion was lower during training. They also felt less exhausted than the non-stick test groups.

Many rehabilitation clinics now use Nordic walking as a form of therapy. Some health insurance companies have also begun to financially support Nordic Walking courses as part of preventive measures.


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