We always include a warm-up at the start of our Nordic walking classes and a series of stretches at the end. I’m sometimes asked what’s the point of the former, given that walking is often used as a warm-up in its own right. The answer is that it’s a perfect opportunity to do some of the mobilising and strengthening exercises that we should be building into our lives on a daily basis. In Japan, China and Taiwan many people follow an exercise routine every morning. Squats, arm circles, single leg balance, bending, stretching and jumping are all part of their day. How many of us do that daily I wonder? I know that many of you have benefitted from our pre-walk mobilisation/muscle activation routine. Here’s three of the best:
- Kayaking: A perfect way to mobilise the shoulder joint – forwards and backwards. As I mentioned in last week’s blog, many people suffer with a shoulder problem at some point. This exercise is the perfect way to keep one of the trickiest joints in our body moving across its full range. The poles make it so easy too.
- Ankle circles: Another complicated joint which must bear our full weight, deal with uneven ground, badly fitting shoes plus a whole lot more. Lift one foot up at a time and try and paint a perfect circle in both directions with your toes, then air-write your name. Use the poles to support you or, even better, lift the poles off the ground so that you’re balancing on one leg, activating your core stabilising muscles.
- Back warm-ups: There’s several we use. Open and close the poles – this stretches your chest and wakes up your mid back area. The ‘Ws’ is a similar exercise and very effective. I’ve spoken about this exercise before (click here to see a brief demo by my Tuesday walkers). Plus there’s a cobra-type exercise which helps strengthen the small muscles supporting the length of your spine. I do this at home and it has helped banish my post gardening back grumbles. You don’t need poles. Simply stand tall with your feet hip width apart and your core engaged. Start with your arms straight above your head in line with your ears (keep your shoulders down) then bring them down in an arch out to the side with your thumbs pointing behind you. I’ll video our walkers doing this exercise next week and pop it in our Newsletter so you can see it in action.
There are so many other great warm-ups that we plan to put a video together for you on our new website, together with a few other technique videos which we think you’ll enjoy.
In anticipation of a few days away in Blakeney, Norfolk I’ve been compiling my reading list. This is often inspired by my conversations with you, so I thought I’d share it with everyone:
- ‘The Summer Book’ by Tove Jansson (author of the Moomin children’s book series). I read it a few years ago and enjoyed it so much I want to read it again.
- ‘The Clever Guts Diet’ by Michael Mosley. Mel’s been reading this and highly recommends it. Ever since I read the brilliant ‘Gut’ by Giulia Enders I’ve been fascinated by what goes on in our intestines – so this should be a good sequel.
- ‘Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey’ by Rachel Hewitt. My interest in the history of our OS maps was triggered last year by a BBC documentary about it. This book was highly recommended by Polly and I’ve been meaning to read it since Christmas!
- Magazines. There aren’t any Nordic walking specific magazines yet (except for Nordic Walking World which we produced last year). The closest is ‘Country Walking’. I also like Holland and Barrett’s ‘Healthy’ magazine and Liz Earle’s ‘Wellbeing’, although it’s currently only produced quarterly.
Clearly I’m not going to get through much of the above whilst in Norfolk – too many other lovely things to do – so I’m treating it as my whole summer reading list. I can’t wait.