TED talks are often a topic of conversation at the Tuesday 10am Ashton Court walk. Last week’s discussion about the talk given by social psychologist Amy Cuddy particularly interested me. ‘Power posturing’ is nothing new and most of us are aware of the symbiotic relationship between our posture and our frame of mind. The slant of Cuddy’s TED talk – Your body language shapes who you are – is that ‘posturing’ confidence, even when we don’t feel it, can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain and change how we view ourselves as well as how others see us. By faking it we can become it.
It’s extraordinary that such as simple thing as the way in which we position our bodies and arrange our limbs should have such a profound impact, not only on shaping our self-image and how we are perceived, but also on our health. Here’s a quick zip through some of the other known benefits of good posture:
- breathing becomes easier and deeper
- circulation and digestion improves
- weight and gravitational forces are distributed evenly throughout our bodies
- muscles and joints are less stressed and less prone to injury
- the whole skeletal system is accurately aligned enabling our bodies to function more efficiently
- energy levels increase
- we instantly look slimmer and younger!
In my opinion one of the key benefits of Nordic walking is its power to transform our posture. As soon as those poles are in our hands we stand up taller. Then as we develop our technique we strengthen and rebalance all our postural muscles. It’s a subtle but powerful reeducation which affects both our physical and mental wellbeing. No wonder it crops up in so many of my blogs on health, fitness and technique. Other exercises such as pilates and yoga also provide great postural benefits, but Nordic walking is almost (I am a great fan of the Alexander technique) unique in that it trains our bodies whilst we are going about the regular business of walking. No adaptation is required.
Tighten your straps properly!
For most of us, hand control and arm swing are the two most difficult technical aspects of Nordic walking. If you’re struggling with one or the other (or both!) you might find these past blogs helpful:
- Want good Nordic walking technique? It’s within your grasp – giving tips on what your hands should be doing, both at the beginning stages of Nordic walking and as the technique advances.
- Technique tips – the perfect arm swing.
- Double planting or sore forearm when Nordic walking? Here’s what to do.
Something that I’ve noticed recently is that many of you are walking with loose straps. This makes it really hard to swing the pole without it flapping about as you’ve lost the connection between your hand and the pole. It makes mastering the arm swing almost impossible. Spending a few extra moments at the beginning of the class ensuring that your strap’s velcro is firmly tightened round your wrist (without cutting the circulation off) is well worth the effort. You’ll have much more control and power than if your hand is slopping about in a loose strap. There are a few other small points to consider so I’ve recorded a short YouTube clip on it all which you can watch by clicking on this link. If you have your own poles and your straps have become stretched or your velcro lost it’s stick, it may be time to invest in a new pair of straps. You can buy these online – contact us if you need any help or advice.
Finally, a bit of advanced notice that during the course of this week, I will be loading up details of some longer walks, including a series of Wednesday afternoon walks. Keep an eye on our website if you’re interested.
Wishing you a very happy Easter weekend.