‘Why the Nordic Walking poles?’ I am often asked, ‘can’t I just go for a fast or a slow walk’.
Now, leaving the evidence based benefits aside for a second, what helped me understand why walking with Nordic Walking poles is not just a gimmick (which took some time), was a useful analogy someone shared about swimming and walking.
When I go swimming without goggles, I will swim in a particular way to keep my head out of the water so I can see where I am going. Swimming without goggles is good exercise, but by wearing goggles, the way I move and the technique I use drastically changes – going from ‘head bobbing’ to something that resembles what is done at the Olympics (well I like to think anyway). Swimming with goggles allows for freedom to move in a different way and the associated possibilities that are above and beyond what most people can do without. Goggles are an accepted training aid and swimming clubs around the country welcome goggle use to mine the potential benefits in efficiency, power output and speed.
A similar concept can be considered with Nordic Walking poles. Yes, you can walk without the poles which is great exercise (I do it all the time), but by only having contact with the ground through your feet you miss out on the potential that your upper body has to support your movement. The introduction of Nordic Walking poles and good Nordic Walking technique allows you to move differently through the landscape and in doing so gain a host of benefits, including transforming walking into a form of exercise with a possible energy expenditure equivalent to running, but with lower perceived effort and impact (my favourite benefit of many).
Looking back on this analogy with more experience under my belt, it continues to resonate with me. In the same way that a goggle-less training session at the pool will always be compared to what I can do with those misty plastic lenses, when I am out walking without the poles I can’t help thinking, am I missing something?
If you would like to try Nordic Walking click here to look at our Nordic Walking taster sessions.