Do you want the best possible back and defined arms? It’s a rhetorical question of course because frankly who doesn’t? The point I’m wanting to make is that you can easily achieve both through Nordic walking. Here’s how.
Strength, support and flexibility are the three pillars for back health. The simple act of Nordic walking with good technique will target these three areas at the same time. Amazing and brilliant I know! You don’t even need to walk fast to reap these benefits – the key is to keep a steady pace going so that your back really warms into the rhythm. Focus on the following:
- Walk tall – the power of 4: Lengthen your spine, lift your head off your shoulders (keep chin level), shoulders down and wide and chest lifted (remember that gap between your hip bone and rib cage). Doing these will put you in the correct postural position and strengthen those crucial postural muscles.
- Tummy in: Pull your tummy button in slightly towards your spine as though you were coughing. This engages your deep abdominal, core muscles which protect your back and improve your balance and posture.
- Effort through the pole: Every time you plant the pole in the ground you switch on your core. The more effort you put into it, the more your core works and strengthens. And the benefits don’t stop there as you’ll also get a flatter tummy and trim waist too. Happy days!
- Rotate your upper body: This takes your back health to the next level. It is an advanced Nordic walking technique which gently rotates the spine, boosting circulation the whole way down and increasing oxygen and nutrients to the discs and vertebrae. This is immensely important and the benefit cannot be underestimated. We teach this at our classes. It’s often tough to master and you’ll probably find that you forget the other bits of the technique to begin with, but perseverance will reward you with a huge back health dividend.
As we age there are a number of physiological changes that occur, including loss of muscle mass. It’s one of those disappointing facts of life that you only ever really think about once you’re past the age of forty! For women, nowhere is this more noticeable than in our arms. It’s often in the unflattering light of a shop changing room that you become aware that your upper arms have become a bit flabby, and even that you can see cellulite, a real shock as most of us think this is something you only get on your legs!. Nordic walking tones your arms beautifully so make sure you focus on the following:
- Tricep power: Your triceps (aka bingo wings) are at the back of your upper arm. Concentrate on using them, not your neck and shoulders, when you push the pole backwards.
- Power through the pole: The harder you push through the pole the more you’ll work your triceps.
- Extend the push behind you: This is an aspect of the advanced technique that is well worth focusing on if you want to tone up your arms. Try to speed up your arm swing so that you continue your arm swing behind your hips. It’s a hard but perfect workout for your triceps!
Why taking your NW poles on your country walk is a must
As many of you know, I live near the fields of Lower Failand and spend a great deal of time walking in this beautiful part of Bristol. I have come to appreciate some of the less obvious benefits of taking my Nordic walking poles with me when I go out:
- Swiping the nettles and brambles away – Oh my goodness, it’s ‘dodge the nettles’ on many paths at this time of the year and brambles too. My poles are brilliant for hacking the pesky stingers away and looping thorny branches back off my path. Caution though: carbon shatters easily so don’t bash your pole against anything hard.
- Self defence weapon – Laugh not. I have thanked my lucky stars/faithful NW poles on more than one occasion when I’ve been in a field of worryingly attentive cows. They don’t like the spike AT ALL and the pole shafts look at bit like the plastic tubing that farmers use when moving them so they are very wary. Win, win.
- Reaching the juiciest blackberries – We all know that the plumpest and best looking blackberries are always just out of reach. Not so if you’ve got your NW poles with you. You can just use the tip, especially if you’ve got the All Terrain tip with the flick back paw, to hook the branch down and pluck the tastiest morsels off. Yum.