Next week we are introducing our new focus area: brains and balance. It is all thanks to my physio friend Susie Brown.
As those of you who walk regularly with us know, each week in every class we run we focus on a specific aspect of the Nordic walking technique relevant to the following areas of the body:
- Upper body
- Chest and back
- Hips and core
- Lower body
It ensures that, as walkers, there’s always an opportunity to develop your Nordic walking technique. Plus, as instructors, the rotation of focus means we never get stuck in a rut teaching the same thing over and over.
However, Susie pointed out that Nordic walking provides much wider opportunities to enhance our health. One area of particular importance is that of balance.
Maintaining balance is a complex function and I last wrote about it a few weeks ago. To have a good sense of balance we need to be able to see where we are (vision), recognise where our limbs are in relation to each other and the world around us (proprioception) and not get that dizzy feeling when moving our head around (vestibular system). On top of that we need strong muscles (especially those ‘core’ muscles that wrap around our middle) plus mobile & stable joints, ankles, knees and hips.
To date we have been concentrating on muscular and joint strength but from next week we are going to add the sensory system too – vision, proprioception and vestibular. Here’s what you can expect:
- Exercises to ensure your eyes move to their full range of vision: side-to-side, up-down; in and out; and circular. This is particularly important for anyone who spends lengthy periods of time looking at a computer screen or reading material.
- Proprioception exercises challenging your body’s understanding of where your limbs are moving without having to look at them. An obvious Nordic walking example would be scanning the ground ahead of you to anticipate what your feet will be encountering without having to look at them. We will also be including different types of walking (such as heel-toe and cross-over walking) and other fun exercises.
- Vestibular exercises moving your head into different positions – inversion, side bends, spinning. This is likely to be the most challenging but most beneficial for all of us*. Dizziness is not something we have to put up with as we age. We can do something about it and these exercises will help keep your vestibular system energetic and healthy.
Our aim at BNW is to provide an effective session that challenges you enough to improve your health and fitness. Rotating the areas of focus also provides an extra boost, both in terms of Nordic walking technique and complete body wellbeing. We can’t wait to get started with brains and balance and hope you enjoy it too!
*Please note that those with low blood pressure will need to be careful when doing some of these exercises.