Nordic Walking Training Tips

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Find a Trail

One of the great things about Nordic walking is that it can be done in urban settings. To get the most benefit, you will want to walk almost every day. For convenience, you will probably do most of your walking near your home. This can be on a sidewalk, road, park, or urban trail or path, and will usually be someplace you are familiar with. Still, there will be times you want to look for someplace new. You may be traveling and looking for a place to walk, or you may be looking for variety for a weekend walk. Here are some web sites you can search to find new walking trails. Not every trail will be good for Nordic walking, or for every Nordic walker, so you may have to look a bit to find the ones you will enjoy. Check out all of them.

www.railstotrails.org is the site for the Rails-to-Trails Foundation, who are doing some interesting work for the environment and to further health and fitness for the population.

www.trails.com is a subscription site with a large database.

www.localhikes.com is one you can both use to find trails and contribute your favorites to.

   

Warming Up

Don't do a lot of stretching before you walk. Stretching is most effective at the end of your walking workout. Some easy walking, with or without using your poles, is the best way to warm up, and also to cool down at the end if you have done some vigorous walking. You can, however, do some mobility exercises before you walk to get your joints moving. Try the ones described below. Do what is comfortable for you, and avoid anything that causes pain. Do a few repetitions of each.

For these, hold your poles horizontal with both hands, one on each end, straight in front of you.

Partial squats. Go down as far as is comfortable for you, keeping your knees over your toes.

Overhead raise. Keeping your arms straight, raise the poles from straight in front of you to overhead and back down.

Twist. Turn as far as you can comfortably at the waist, to one side and then the other. Turn at your waist, so that your hips stay facing forward. Turn your head at the same time, to give your neck some exercise.

For these, hold your poles with tips on the ground, in walking position. Use them for balance, not to support your weight.

Bend your knee as though you were trying to kick yourself in the butt. Keep your knees together. Do a few kicks with one leg, then a few with the other.

Swing your leg back a few inches, set it down, and repeat.

Raise your heel, leaving the ball of your foot on the ground. Alternate feet with this one.

Now go for a walk and have fun.

   
Can you do Nordic walking on a treadmill?

Indoor Walking

Sometimes you may be driven indoors for your exercise due to weather or darkness. The belts on most treadmills are not wide enough for Nordic walking. You may be able to walk at an indoor mall. Some malls open early for mall walking, or you could just go during slow hours. If you work in or otherwise have access to a large building, you may be able to walk the halls. If you have to miss a Nordic walking workout, ride an exercise bike, do some yoga, or do another exercise of your choice so you don't get out of the habit of working out. Get back to Nordic walking as soon as you can. And, don't forget, in winter there's cross-country skiing.

   
Where can I do Nordic walking if I don't want to walk alone?

Clubs and Classes

Many people enjoy working out with others. Nordic walking is a fairly new exercise, so you may have trouble finding a club or class. Talk to your local parks and recreation department and see if they can start one. Any exercise leader should be able to learn Nordic walking without any problem. You only need to get a few friends together to start your own club, or you could ask an existing walking club to include Nordic walkers. A store that sells Nordic walking equipment may be glad to help form a club. Or, take your Nordic walking poles when you go with your friends who are doing conventional walking. (You will go at the same speed.) Don't be surprised if they decide they want to try what you're doing! Here's a new online resource you can check out: www.nordicwalkingclubs.com.

   
Do Nordic walkers compete in marathons?

Marathon Competition

For the first time, Nordic walking is being included as a separate division in a marathon. The '06 Portland Marathon will allow you to sign up as a Nordic walker. Although walkers participate in most marathons, the Portland Marathon is noted for being especially walker friendly. Individual Nordic walkers or Nordic walking clubs can participate in the walk/run division of other marathons, but they are not timed or awarded prizes separately. The inclusion of Nordic walking at Portland is an indication of the growing popularity of Nordic walking not only as a fitness activity, but as a sport.

   
Does Nordic walking work the core muscles?

Core Training

Nordic walking provides great training for your core muscles. When you use good technique, your core muscles--chiefly abdominals and spinal erectors--automatically contract and release. This improves strength and endurance of the core muscles, and gives a toning and conditioning effect.

   
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