Posts Tagged ‘Nordic Walking’

Nordic Walking by definition is “Panaerobic”…some estimate that 90% of one’s musculature is involved. Whatever the amount Dr. Schwartz defined it as basically any movement activating all 4 limbs and as much muscle as possible.

It’s a nice alternate day exercise for me – I find it works well doing HeavyHands one day and this the next. HeavyHands really works the shoulders and “lifting” muscles. As the arms go overhead they really get the heart pumping. 

Nordic walking works in a slightly  different way, moves the “lifting muscles” of the arm and shoulder with light resistance and gives more work to the muscles required to “push off” as the body is propelled forward.

What Nordic walking ISN’T is a Longstrength exercise. By Schwartz’ definition they were rhythmic calesthenics that involved all limbs and can be done for time, not just “reps”.

I also don’t like the lack of hip and quad action that upright walking alone gives. That’s where a Nordic Longstrength move comes in for me. 

Basically while standing with arms front, I keep my arms ahead (usually more straight than shown) and sink back into a hip hinge. The return to standing is by a movement that resembles a kettlebell swing, i.e. a hip thrust while – to one degree or another – using the lat muscles to pull upright as well.

It’s a great posterior chain exercise and lat exercise. I got the idea from “gruntbrain” and his poles with “T” handles and from kettlebell swinging. 

Though it can be done as a braced knee bend, in my opinion the hip hinge and lat action keep it quick paced and easier on the knees. 

Currently I use it to fill in gaps on the walk when I’d otherwise be inactive for some reason or if my path on a given day might not have much up hill work.

Now that I’ve found my “groove” in the exercise (doing it as a hip hinge instead of a squat made it faster and more enjoyable), it’s time to ramp up some reps and see how they go.

What other Longstrength exercises do you see as possible using Nordic Walking Poles?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Nordic Walking Roller Poles

Posted: January 29, 2016 in General
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Just when you think you’ve seen everything in the Nordic Walking field – something new catches your attention. 

In this case it occurred on interstate 10 on the road to El Paso at a rest stop!

I met the Tim Affield, inventor of Nordic Walking Roller Poles on his morning walk (pictures below from his website but you get the idea)!

I was fascinated to learn about his unique Nordic walking adaptation and thought you might be too!

My SWIX Nordic poles are fixed length with carbide tips covered by rubber tips.I use one of the other depending on where I’m walking. Mine  also have special “hand straps” so I never really have to grip the handles with my fingers. The instructions say to simply press back with  the heel of the hand. 

Here’s where the Roller Poles differ:

Instead of carbide tips or rubber “shoes” these devices have one way locking “ratchet” wheels. Press back on the poles and the wheels lock and dig in like the regular Nordic walking poles. 

These roller poles are adjustable in length the way medical devices like crutches or walker are. That’s different than adjustable Nordic or Trekking poles that have a twist lock. If I were using an adjustable pole, I’d definitely feel more secure with those used for medical devices!

My poles are designed to be used mostly with a straight arm movement that starts at about the height of a “handshake” and moves back. Tim’s poles were adjusted longer and his motion began from a bent arm staring with a “triceps extension” movement. 

Likewise the handgrips place the hand palm down for ergonomic reasons. I wasn’t familiar with the reasoning but have held my hands like that with my straps on my poles and it works very well and seemed to remove some strain I had in the heel of my palm during fast poling. With the hands in this position it’s almost like “crawling” without getting down on all fours!

I wondered how well the wheels work. Tim says they work on all terrain and haven’t worn out after 3000 miles! Anything has got to be better than the rubber tips – they can cost $10-$14 to replace (including mail) and don’t last long. Mine are worn out after less than a year and I do lots of other things besides Nordic Walk!

I didn’t get a chance to test them myself but I’d like to sometime – their price point is higher than my sticks so that probably won’t happen for a while!

It sure makes me wish I could replace my rubber rips with one way locking wheels though!

And I’d really like to test them compared to other Nordic Poles! I hope we see a lot more of them in use!

  

Nordic Walking Source: Wikimedia Commons

Nordic Walking Source: Wikimedia Commons

As big fans of HeavyHands know, one of Dr. Schwartz’ early inspirations (besides a torn hamstring from running) was CROSS COUNTRY SKIING.  The “Panaerobic” action of all limbs moving simultaneously against resistance gave cross country skiiers HUGE abilities to process oxygen … far more than other athletes.

Nordic Walking is the “cousin” of cross country skiing and uses similar poles to approximate the action of skiing when it’s not winter. It too is “Panaerobic”.

That raises the question… Wouldn’t then Nordic WALKING be as useful as HeavyHands?

Good question…

Here’s how I answered the question yesterday when it came to deciding… do I grab my Nordic Walking NSticks or take a pair of hand weights to workout?

First, it’s not necessarily an “either/or”, “all or nothing” decision. I use and like them both. But how to decide?

Workout Objectives

Nordic walking sticks are light… much lighter than even one “heavyhand” weight usually. Mine had a TOTAL SHIPPING WEIGHT of 1.7 pounds including the packaging! That’s lighter than two of the lightest hand weights! Lifting the sticks between steps may tire you out after hundreds or thousands of steps, that’s not where the aerobic benefit of Nordic Walking comes from.

The ability of Nordic Walking to increase aerobic workloads by 20 to 40% or more while activating so much upper and lower body muscle comes from the downward/backward stroke that – with the legs – thrusts the body forward. Though the poles are very light, the energy used to push the body forward can be quite extensive.

While the trapezius, pectorals, biceps, and frontal deltoids work to pull the pole into proper position for the next step, the real muscle exertion in the upper body comes from the backward/downward push. In that case the triceps, rear deltoids and upper back and latissimus muscle groups get the bulk of the work.

With the basic HeavyHands “Walk and Pump” movement, the exertion pattern is almost exactly OPPOSITE… the muscles lifting the weight forward get most of the exercise, though a strong backswing emphasis of the HeavyHands can indeed work the upper back and triceps quite well.

Part of the “Panaerobic Equation” that determines the effectiveness of the HeavyHands movement is the RANGE OF MOTION. Raising the arms and weights above the shoulder to overhead  (“Level III”) significantly enhances the workload during exercise.

When it comes to Nordic Walking there are limitations in the range of motion because the sticks are fitted to one’s height and their benefit is derived from gripping the ground and pushing off, not being raised over head.  While experienced walkers will learn ways to adjust the range of motion slightly as walking speed is increased or decreased, users may not be able to get as much aerobic benefit as  they might from Level III work. Trying to artificially lift the sticks higher to mimic it or go too fast can cause the user to trip themselves over the sticks with disastrous consequences!

One of Dr. Schwartz’ interests as a psychiatrist was exercise variety. He himself wanted exercise to be constantly challenging, new and sustainable. As any reader of the HeavyHands books will notice his curiosity prompted him to invent and promote numerous variations in exercise movement to not only work as much muscle as possible, but to avoid boredom!

As the body and mind tire from the basic “pump and walk movement”, the weights, for example, can be used in some completely different way like swings across the chest to work “fresh” muscle groups while continuing to walk.

Nordic Walking definitely DOES NOT offer this variety of exercise. The same predominant exercise pathway is used throughout the effort without variation for the most part. Boredom may be avoided by the scenic nature of the walking path, but not by exercise variation for the most part!

With both Nordic Walking and HeavyHands, some “quadriceps” and “lower back” activation can be done by walking in a “duck walk “or “Groucho Marx walk” though more variety may be obtained with HeavyHands probably. It’s worth testing, but this author hasn’t done much.

Practical Issues

There are  VERY REAL practical issues related to one’s choice of sticks or weights. Yesterday we were going to a state park we’d never visited before…

Would the trail be hilly? Would the path be flat? In other words, would I benefit from ADDITIONAL SUPPORT to keep my balance on a rough trail?

In the case of unknown terrain, it’s best to use Nordic walking sticks if there’s any concern about unsure footing.

As it turned out the trails were hardly flat except for brief stretches. The trails were up and down and twisting… at times the Nordic Sticks seemed a bit more like “Trekking Poles” but they did their job of not only providing upper body exercise, but also making the hike safer.  In the event of a poisonous snake nearby, I’d rather have a Nordic stick handy if needed than a hand weight! Sorry Dr. Schwartz!

Try Both

That’s what I ended up doing….

Not sure about the terrain, both sticks and weights went in the car. The ranger said one trail was “level” and the other was “rugged”.

We took the “rugged” trail first using Nordic Walking sticks.

Later we took the “level” trail using HeavyHands.

(We found out they were both equally rugged and probably would have done best with the Nordic sticks on both of them, but “oh well”! )

For the ULTIMATE VARIETY, one can’t go wrong doing BOTH Nordic Walking and HeavyHands…

For maximum potential strength and activating as much muscle as possible while operating on safe terrain, HeavyHands with increasing weights and a variety of movements activating as many muscles as possible will likely be superior.

As always the exercise you will actually do provides the best results!