About Nordic Walking


What is Nordic Walking?

Nordic Walking (NW) is fitness walking using specially-designed poles derived from cross-country skiing.  In the 1930s, the Finnish cross-country ski team needed a way to train in warm weather.  They began walking and running with their ski poles in what came to be called Nordic Walking (aka pole walking or fitness walking with poles).  But it wasn’t until 1997 and the development of the unique wrist straps that this Finnish style of Nordic Walking was launched internationally as a modern-day sport.

Meanwhile, in 1985, Tom Rutlin of Wisconsin discovered Nordic Walking as a way to train while tending a painful heel spur.  As an accomplished competitive marathon runner and cross-country skier, Tom quickly realized that running, and later walking, with his ski poles gave him a terrific workout with less pain and very little impact on his joints and lower body.  He never returned to running, and his method of Nordic Walking—which he named Exerstrider®–was born.  Tom’s techniques and equipment have set the standard for fitness walking with poles around the world.

Why poles?

Because regular walking engages only your lower-body muscles, it neglects your large upper-body muscles—more than 50% of your body’s muscle mass.  Nordic Walking engages all large muscle groups for an incredible whole-body workout while reducing stress on your lower back, hips, knees, ankles and feet with the same comfort level as walking without poles.

Nordic Walking Poles vs. Trekking Poles.
What’s the difference?

Trekking/Hiking poles make hiking easier by relieving pressure on your lower joints and helping with balance, stability, and traction on mountain hikes or irregular terrain.  They have loop straps, removable rubber tips, and they are designed to be planted vertically in front of you.

Nordic Walking poles  also relieve pressure on lower joints and provide added balance, stability, and traction on various terrains.  But they have angled, removable rubber tips and (for the Finnish version) custom, fitted handstraps which are unique to the sport.  Exerstrider® poles have ergonomic, strapless handles.  Nordic Walking poles are used at an angle and planted at your side.  In essence, they push you forward.

For detailed information on the benefits of various types of Pole Walking:  Hiking with Poles, Nordic Walking, and using Poles for Balance & Mobility, see Jayah Faye Paley’s terrific chart at:  http://adventurebuddies.net/01-01-01-hiking-benefits.htm

Unless otherwise specified, all photos are by Sebastian Milito.