Nordic Walking Training Tips

Although Nordic Walking Technique is fairly simple and easy to learn there are some fun things you can do to make learning easier as well as interval activities to add that will increase your work out when you’re ready for them.  I’ll build this page over time so check back often and let me know what I’m missing that you’d like to be included.

Beginning Technique:

The tried and true way to begin with your poles is to walk and swing and drag so that the tip of the pole can grab the ground.  This is the beginning sequence, it’s only the beginning.  It’s a new activity and we have to start somewhere. Think of walk, swing, drag as your training wheels. It helps set the range of motion for your arm swing, makes sure you’re swing fore and aft with no crossing motion, and allows the pole tip to find the sweet spot for the pressure point. Eventually you will not be dragging your poles.  As you add pressure and follow through your poles will finish their push and then follow your hand as it swings forward, just skimming the ground on the way.

Beginning Sequence:

  1.  Take off your poles and simply take a short walk swinging your arms in synch with your steps.  Just relax and let your body do what it knows how to do.  Trust me, you know how to walk and swing your arms.
  2. Pick up your poles and gently wrap your hands around the handles.  Tom Rutlin likes to say “it’s like holding a bird in your hand,  firm enough to keep it from flying and gentle enough that it doesn’t get hurt.”
  3. Starting position – chin up, shoulders down and back, hands hanging by your sides, poles slanting back behind you, tips of the poles on the ground.  Begin walking and just let your arms start to swing.  You should move into a natural stride, opposite arm and leg swinging forward together.  Be sure the pole tips are dragging on the ground.  Remember, walk and swing and drag so the pole can begin to grab.
  4. Keep walking and swinging and dragging, it takes time to become comfortable with the poles.  Don’t hurry, it’s a new activity, smile, relax and enjoy becoming a Nordic walker.

Second Phase:

  1.  You should now be in rhythm walking opposite hand and foot and beginning to feel the pole tip land and grab the ground as your arm swings forward.  Check to be sure your arm is long and relaxed, no bent elbows lifting the pole up and forward.
  2. As the tip lands and grabs the ground you should respond with a slight pressure down and back.  Play with it, do not push hard yet as you want to stay in rhythm and make the pole action part of your walk.  Work with the poles rather than trying to make them do what you think they should be doing.
  3. You can also begin a slight “grab” of the pole grip or handle as the tip grabs the ground.   This will aid in stabilizing the pole on the ground and make it easier to add the pressure on the tip.

3rd Phase:

  1.  It’s time to add more pressure and follow through.  This is when the pole tips will begin leaving the ground as they follow your arm swing forward with each step.  They will rebound when the pressure is released and your arm starts forward with the next step.
  2. Think of golf, tennis or baseball.  The power of the swing action does not stop when you hit the ball.  You continue to follow through with the action.  The same is true of your pressure on the pole tip.  The tip lands and grabs, you grab to begin the pressure but immediately relax your hand to allow the pressure on the tip to continue all the way through your arm swinging backward.  Consistent pressure is important now.  You’ll feel your upper body engaging more and more as you apply that pressure.  It’s a quick motion but creates a tremendous upper body workout!
  3. Here in Central Minnesota we are fond of fishing and so we often talk about catch and release for the action with the pole.  The pole swings forward the tip lands and grabs – the fish takes the hook, you catch the grip and set the pressure, then release your hand grip to allow the follow through pressure on the tip.

Remember:  Chin up, shoulders down and back, don’t over think it and walk often with joy!

Here’s a link to a video I did for LEKI a few years ago.  Might help make sense of all of this