Running the Technique Courses has reminded me that it is good for us all to refresh our Nordic Walking technique from time to time. Like when driving, it is really easy to fall into bad habits when out pole walking (especially if you are chatting!) If you are keen to get the maximum results from Nordic walking here are three simple drills which you can do at any time to check if you are letting things slide or taking things a tad too easy!
TIP 1: ARM SWING
The key to getting a good Nordic Walking action is to engage the major upper body muscles and not just the upper arm. This means you have to concentrate and swing a straight arm until the hand is at handshake height.
If you then plant the pole at a backward angle and use your strap to push forward – you will have made use of all those powerful big upper body muscles. Next time you are out with your poles, pop a sticker on the inside of your elbow and if it disappears when you are poling, you are bending the arm too much and therefore only using the arm muscles!
TIP 2: POLE POWER
Another common ‘lazy technique habit’ is to go through the motions of Nordic walking but without actually putting mush power through the poles. The best way to test for this is to walk using the poles and then stop using them but still swing the arms as if you are (simply keep the tips off the ground). If you do not slow down much and/or feel heavier on your feet, the chances are you are not pushing hard enough on the poles to propel you forward. Remember, you should push hard enough onto the poles to really engage the upper body, take the weight off your feet and PROPEL you forward. This drill works really well on a slight incline too. I always have the Bungee poles with me so if you would like to have a refresher with them to get the feeling of really powering back just remind me to take them out with us at the start of the walk.
TIP 3: A CLEAN ‘PLANT’
If you are swinging from the shoulder and lifting the poles forward slightly before you ‘plant’ them into the ground, they should leave a clean hole in the ground.
However, if you do not swing far enough forward to take the hand high enough to lift the pole it may engage with the ground too early causing it to drag along (which reduces your power) and the tell tale signs will be a drag line before the plant point which is usually less marked and deep as a result. If you can’t find ground where you leave the signs try using a hard surface for this drill and simply listen to the noise your pole tips make as you use them. You should hear a clear tap and not a scrape and tap. If you are using rubber paws a lot, another sign of poor planting is uneven wear to the front or back of the paw.
Have fun and remember…don’t take it too easy if you want to really experience the power of your poles!