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It is my hope that these notes may further your knowledge on pole walking as they had for me when studying for my certification.

I apologize for the information being disjointed as these are just notes

My Instructor Training Pole Walking Notes

July 20, 2010


What is a mile:

1 mile = 5280 ft

1 mile = approx 2000 steps or 1000 stride

1 step between 2 to 3 feet

1 stride = 2x step

1 mile walk = approx 100 calories

35 mile walk = 1 pound loss

3500 calories burn = 1 pound of fat loss

1 mile pole walk = approx 140 calories

25 mile pole walk = 1 pound loss

Pole walking 30 to 50% calories burning than walking


Pole walking

Calories used in 1 mile

100 calories

140 calories

# miles to burn1 lb of calories

35 miles

25 miles

Muscle group involvement

approx 50%

approx 90%

Walking benefit equivalents

30 mins

50 mins

Weight distribution


< 5 to 8 kg/step (11-18 lbs)

% weight distribution


<20 to 26 % impact on joints

Activities that help you burn more calories compared to your regular exercise regimen -- that save time and don't leave you in pain afterward.

Poles for Walking

Ski walking and hill bounding with poles has been practiced for decades as dry land training for competitive cross-country skiing. Ski coaches saw the success of world-class cross-country skiers who used ski poles in the summer for ski walking and hill bounding, and it became a staple of off-season Nordic ski training. Hikers with knee pain discovered they could walk more powerfully with a pair of trekking poles, often eliminate or reduce hip, knee, and foot pain, and backpackers found relief from painful backs when using poles. Individuals with physical limitations have also found that walking with poles can aid balance and facilitate walking. Ski walking, hiking and trekking with poles is nothing new to outdoor enthusiasts.

Three categories of Poles:

  • Walking poles: to aid in walking, bent arm and pole plant i.e. these walking poles range from cane like to fitness walking poles. Typically light in weight yet strong to hold the entire weight of th user. Walking poles for aiding a walker with there balance and weight bearing of greater than 20% of their weight will have a cane like handle so as to distribute the heavy weight of their body onto their palm of the hands. Will also in many times lack a strap on the handle so as not to pull the person off balance if the pole is planted and held incorrectly. Also by binding the hand to the pole handle with a strap if the person falls it could result in tearing the hands Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) if the hand is spread open falling on the pole handle causing an extreme abduction of the thumb in the fall. Walking poles for health and fitness may also fall into this category if the walker has no balance or weight bearing dependency on the pole and such walking poles are different than trekking poles being typically lighter, have specially designed handles and have glove like strap that allows the Nordic walker to push the pole behind them before swinging the pole forward without having to grip the handles with much degree of force. So when choosing a walking pole for balance or health, first stay away from hiking and trekking poles then need to choose between a walking pole for aid in walking or for health/fitness (see below for fitness walking pole..

  • Fitness walking poles Nordic walking using a straight arm and pole plant (i.e. Nordic poles). Different than trekking poles being typically lighter, have specially designed handles and have glove like strap that allows the Nordic walker to push the pole behind them before swinging the pole forward without having to grip the handles with much degree of force.

  • Hiking/Trekking poles: designed for use on trails and uneven terrain. i.e. greater palm surface on top. More rugged construction. Many have shock absorbers, may have an extended handle for traversing.

Walking and Fitness walking poles such as Nordic walking poles, or Exerstrider or Keen poles are great for exercise on streets, sidewalks, and paths. (See appendix for manufacturers)

Three different corresponding techniques:

  • Walking aid,

  • Nordic/fitness walking

  • Hiking/Trekking.


Pole Walking for balance/mobility, to improve health, safety and enjoyment in walking. The arm is usually slightly bent with pole plant by heel or in front depending on terrain. By using the aid of other muscles can give through the pole will help provide balance (mainly bi-lateral balance), more upright posture, forward propulsion and confidence to walk. Poles can provide bilateral support on flats and help pick up the toe or foot to prevent tripping. Going up hill placing the pole tips behind you will allow you to use the back muscle (mainly the latissimo dorsi), your triceps and obliques and also helps you maintain an upright posture which in turns help with the optimal breathing position. On the downhill with a longer length pole in front of you will minimizes knee impact by utilizing muscles of the abdomen, chest muscles (pectoris) and the biceps. Keep the elbows in when holding the poles in front. Typically, uses road feet or trail feet or in a few occasions Carbide tips and rarely uses basket.

Nordic Fitness Walking

Nordic Fitness Walking allows the use of more muscles to be involved giving greater exercise to your walk. By using poles, walkers burn more calories as they use their upper body muscles as well as their legs. The result is an increased heart rate without an increase in perceived exertion. Burn more, feel less. More of a punch push with a compression push of the tip technique they label this “synergistic resistance”. You basically add a little more form to your use of the pole to enhance the use of every major muscle (as well as your cardiovascular system) as you walk. A larger stride and more fuller upper body use while striding with a full range pendulum swing of the arm (straight forearm and push on the ground and then lift the tip back. Arm swing in front is no higher than the belly button with a full back swing. Typically on flat even solid surfaces. Can also be done on smooth slight inclines and smooth very slight declines. Mainly, uses road feet, can use trail feet but really rarely uses basket or carbide steel tips if so more like hiking then.


Hiking poles and trekking poles when used correctly can significantly relieve strain on the knees, hips and lower back by distributing some of the load to the poles but also give additional upper body usage to provide impact absorption aid aid for propulsion forward.. Poles will not decrease your overall energy expenditure since you'll be using your arms, chest abdominal muscles more than you would when walking without poles. They do, however, help distribute your energy usage in a way that can help your hiking endurance. For hikers of all ages and abilities, the additional stability can keep them enjoying the outdoors with confidence for decades to come. The arm is usually bent with pole plant by heel or in front depending on terrain and load on back. With a heavy load on back the weight is shifted forward and the pole is used more a forward load distribution point. Mainly uses trail feet and carbide steel tips occasionally uses basket depending on terrain and rarely uses road feet, unless on really smooth and hard pack trail.

Breaking at the wrist using a wrist swing is common among back packers allowing for less arm movement on rough terrain to maximize stability and placing the tip plant on safe surfaces.

Hiking Poles

  • Purpose of Hiking Poles: to minimize energy expended while hiking by aiding balance and reducing stress on the lower body.

  • How Used: the poles are used differently for different purposes and results: backpackers and people traveling over rugged terrain usually hold the poles straight up & down and planted in front of the body, with minimal push-off or arm-swing. Fitness walkers, Nordic and pole walkers hold the poles are angled back with maximal push-off and arm-swing.

  • Handle Grips: Hiking/trekking/backpacking have handles that are typically straight with finger-grooves, and may be flat on top to help with downhills. Fitness , Nordic and pole walkers handles are such that allow the pole to angle back and have a strap that is designed for the hand to distributes its area to push off on the strap.

  • Straps: Hiking/trekking/backpacking usually simple wrist loops used to prevent dropping the poles whereas fitness, Nordic and pole walkers straps are designed for use for pushing off.

  • Bottom Tips: Hiking/trekking and back packing tips are usually steel tips only - no rubber feet since poles are never used on hard surfaces like sidewalks. Fitness, Nordic and pole walkers have the steel tip but also a slip on rubber tip that are designed for either maximal pole angle push-off or for maximizing stability first and pole angle push-off second.

Nordic Walking Poles

  • Purpose of Nordic Walking Poles: to maximize energy expended while fitness walking by enabling an extended arm-swing and 'plant and propel' exercise motion.

  • How Used: the poles are typically held at an angle and planted behind the body, with firm push-off to propel yourself forward, and a wide range of arm swing.

  • Handle Grips:angled and smooth surface, with no finger-grooves.

  • Straps: like mini-gloves, used to help transfer power during push-off and to catch the poles and bring them forward at the end of the back-swing.

  • Bottom Tips: steel tips for soft surfaces, plus attachable rubber feet for use on hard surfaces like sidewalks.

  • Shoes:Fitness and pole walkers should consider “Walking shoes" that have flexible soles and stiff heel counters to prevent side-to-side motion

Pole Walking Outline

Health Assessment of participants (Limitations/risks assessment)

Understand your current capabilities and performance allows monitor your health progress.

    1. Heart rate

    2. Target heart rate (Between 50 to 70%)

      1. Male {[(205 - 1/2age)-heart rate] x %}+ heart rate

      2. Female {[(220-age)-heart rate] x %}+ heart rate

    3. Blood pressure (120/80)

    4. Range of motion

      1. Breathing muscles (begin labored breathing for a brisk walk, can talk but not sing)

      2. arm movement; shoulder, elbow, wrist (swing arm up to belly button & behind)

      3. Shoulder movement, torso, hip movement

      4. side movement

      5. leg movement: knee, ankle

5. Medication

6. Illnesses


  1. Relaxing

  2. Breathing

  3. Joint movement: shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, ankle

  4. walking posture

A. Balance and alignment

B. Gait and stride

C. Benefits of walking properly

D. Different type of walking and poles:

  • Trekking

  • Hiking

  • Walking

  • Nordic

  • Staff

E. Two poles vs one pole vs E3

F. A small plastic baggy for keeping dirty tips in and using the bag for removing and attaching tips.

G. Handi-wipes and hand sanitizers

H. Recommend carrying a rubber band to help grip the adjustable poles to either loosen the pole's segments or to help tighten them.

Pole anatomy

  1. Straps

  • Nordic walking straps are typically much different than trekking straps. Walking poles have glove like strap that allows the Nordic walker to push the pole behind them before swinging the pole forward without having to grip the handles with any degree of force. .

  • Wrist straps: Most poles allow you to adjust the length of each strap in order to get a comfortable fit around your wrist. Since your palms and wrists will be in nearly constant contact with the straps, you may want to consider models with padded or lined straps to prevent chafing. Some straps have a wider portion as well as pattern to provide greater surface area to the palm area for a more easier and comfortable cradle of the hand.

  • Placing the hand properly in the strap is important as you will rely on he strap for pushing on the pole as much as your grip on the handle. Place the hand up through the strap and then cradle the strap between the crux of the thumb and index finger on the strap.

  • Placing the hand in the straps is critical when using the poles for walking down hill as the strap will aid in the support of the hand, wrist, arm and upper body.

  • If you want to use gloves: get wider wrist straps - these are more helpful when wearing gloves (like cycling gloves) to ease the repetitive rubbing between thumb and index finger,

  • The proper hand strap placement helps you push off the strap after the pole plant.

  • The proper hand strap position allows the hand to have a relaxed grip without losing the pole minimizing straining or over use of hand and arm muscles. .

2. Handle (ergonomic right and left)

  • Lightweight, edgeless shape, soft or hard feel, textured surface are meant to maximize comfort and minimize hand fatigue. The shape and feel of a pole's grip varies from brand to brand, so it's preferable to try several models.

  • Some grips are angled or positioned into the upper pole section so that they are ergonomically at a neutral angle. This can improve comfort and pole compatibility.

  • Positive Angle grips position the hands at an neutral, ergonomically correct 15° angle for for optimal swing efficiency and stress relief. However, these angled poles are more appropriate for hiking and trekking allowing for pole to be placed more in front to take the load off backpacks. The Nordic poles are straighter allowing the pole be planted by your heels.

  • Some poles have grips that extend down the shaft, allowing you to grasp the poles more easily on short uphill sections. These poles are better suited for hiking and trekking. This feature is particularly useful on steep traverses so you don't have to shorten the length of your up-slope pole.

  • Keep in mind that many brands designate left- and right-hand poles on either the grip or the strap. Several materials (or a blending of materials) are used:

  • Cork: These type of handles resists moisture from sweaty hands, decreases vibration and best conforms to the shape of your hands.

  • Foam: Soft and comfortable to hold however, they can absorbs moisture from sweaty hands.

  • Rubber: Insulates hands from cold, shock and vibration, so it's a popular choice for cold-weather activities. The downside it's more likely to chafe or blister sweaty hands, so it's less suitable for warm-weather hiking. Wearing gloves with these types of handles is recommended and is natural to do in cold weather.

  • Cor-tec blend of cork and polyester materials a natural feel and durability without the use of latex

    1. Shaft;

  • Single piece, two piece, three piece, carbon pole, or less expensive alloy pole shaft.

  • adjustable length (cam system vs squeezing) vs non adjusting, shock absorbing (especially down hill aid for weak hips, knees and ankles but not an aid for uphill)

      • Most poles use a twist-and-lock system in which you find the desired length and then twist the pole hard to the right to hold. Some popular varieties:

  • DuoLock: This trademarked feature on several REI and Komperdell poles applies a wide area of pressure against the pole walls to achieve secure length settings.

  • FlickLock: This Black Diamond brand system is also strong. It's a lever-based, clamp-like feature that is quick and easy to adjust, even when wearing gloves.

  • Super Lock System: Leki's system uses an expander and screw setup that is consistently strong and dependable.

  • Stop Lock: This Komperdell system does not adjust pole length, but rather prevents pole sections from completely disengaging.

  • Aluminum alloy allows thin shaft walls that sacrifice nothing in strength, providing a 20% reduction in swing weight

  • 2 vs 3-section telescoping poles; 3 allows for a more compact fold yet allows a long extension: i.e. extend from 26.4 to 53.1 in.

  • The antishock system helps absorb stress when going downhill, but it's best to turn it off when walking uphill or on level terrain. The antishock feature is especially helpful for those with weak ankles, knees or hips, but it does add somewhat to the weight and price of trekking poles. If you primarily want trekking poles for balance and support, you can probably do without the antishock feature.

Switching Off the Antishock System:To do so on most models, simply push down to compress the spring and then turn the pole to lock it in place. Be sure to see the owner's manual for specific details.

    1. Basket (size and design)

      1. Baskets: Trekking poles are usually outfitted with a small, removable trekking basket. Larger baskets can be substituted for use in the snow or on soft, muddy ground.

    1. Tip: Poles typically come with metal tip.

      1. Carbide tips have better grip vs steel tips. Carbide or steel tips are commonly used to provide traction on most surfaces, even ice. Most poles also come with rubber tip protectors that extend the life of the tips and protect your gear when poles are stowed in your pack. These tips are also good for use in sensitive areas where you don't want to negatively impact the ground. Angled rubber walking tips (usually sold separately) are for use on asphalt or other hard surfaces.

      2. Removable rubber tips can be placed or the metal tip for switching between hard and soft surfaces

      3. Synthetic tips can flex up to 30°, reducing stress to the pole shaft; durable carbide tip ends grip ice and rocks

  • Road Feet, Trail Feet, Basket Feet, and Carbide Steel Tips – Adjustable for urban city walking, mountain hiking, or traveling!

  • When planting the pole tip minimize scruffing or dragging the tip.

    1. Women poles (smaller hand grip and lighter)

    2. Balanced pole for hiking swing

Pole length

The right length of the Nordic walking pole related with the person's height is an important part of the comfort and safety of Nordic walking and it has a role in finding the effectiveness of Nordic walking. A pole of the correct length can be pushed behind the body and thus the muscles of arms, shoulders and upper back can be included in the pole push. Choosing the pole length one should consider the person's height, the length of the limbs and how much practice the person has in Nordic walking. The right pole length for the walker can be measured by pressing the arm to the side, bent at an angle of 90 degrees, when the grip of the hand on the pole is relaxed. A person with more experience in Nordic walking or skiing and with more muscular strength can choose a little longer pole.

THE LENGTH OF THE POLE (advance walker)= O.72 x the height of the person

THE LENGTH OF THE POLE (beginner walker)= O.68 x the height of the person

    • If length of pole is too long will cause arm swing to be too high and can tire out the shoulder as well as reduce pole stabilization control and wear out the foot faster. Too short causes bending of back and therefore back stress and inefficient push and balance.

    • Length depends on straight arm vs bent arm as well as pole plant in front of toe or at heel, shoulder swing vs elbow/shoulder swing. Walking poles can be used either with bent arm or straight arm.

        • Bent arm: pole in front of toe, using elbow/shoulder swing and with alternate arm side swing.

        • Straight arm: pole plant at heel, using shoulder swing and alternate arm side swing.

      1. Walking poles: to aid in walking. Typically little less than 90 degree to elbow with ground and vary upon terrain. Similar to Hiking/Trekking. But some also prefer Fitness walking method or a combination as well.

      2. Fitness walking poles (The walking has the pole tips pointed back by or past heels) in general has three categories of pole length and is based from the reference point of holding the poles by the handle and the Forearm is 90 degree at the elbow and the pole is standing straight down point on the ground. In other words the reference length is where the forearm is parallel to the ground and the poles are straight down tip on the ground.

        1. For beginners is is easiest when the pole length is such that the forearm at elbow is lower than 90 degrees from elbow about 1 to 2 inches. This is known as the “health” length.

        2. For intermediate and for more fitness the pole length is such that the forearm at elbow is at 90 degrees from elbow. This is known as the “fitness” length.

        3. For Advance pole walkers the pole length is such that the elbow is above the 90 degrees reference point about 1 to 2 inches. This is known as the “sport” length.

      3. Hiking/Trekking poles: vary upon terrain

        • On level ground: Your forearms should be parallel to the ground when you're holding the grips and the tips are on the ground. (Starting point 90 degree elbow with pole planted on ground). This is a good starting point for flat level walking. You can fine tune the length after walking at this length a bit. Make it one to tow inches longer and you can see it incorporates the use of the upper body more. Adjust length to your comfort level.

        • When hiking uphill: Shorten the poles by a few inches to increase load-bearing pressure. This is when the poles are planted in front of your toes as you walk up hill. If the hill is slight suggest normal walking fitness use of poles planting them by the heel. Uphill – When travelling uphill, it will take less length to be able to get to the ground, so you will want to shorten your pole if possible. If the pole is too long you may be gently pushing yourself backward which is not great for your back and may hurt your balance.

        • When going downhill: Lengthen the poles a few inches for better balance and control. Place the poles in front of your toes an use the poles to steady and brace each step forward down the hill. Never use straight arm pendulum swing with tip at heels going down hill. Injuries: Knee injures are greater from more stress of walking downhill than uphill or flat walking or traverse walking. Walking poles lessens the stress significantly. Downhill – if you are traveling downhill, you will want to make the pole longer, as it will take additional length to reach the ground. If the pole is too short you will be bending/leaning forward, and you would prefer to keep your body level and your back straight as you walk down.

        • On traverses: The down-slope pole should be longer than the up-slope pole (or you can simply grab the pole lower if it comes with an extended grip).

Hand position

    • Hand through strap (like ski pole)

    • relaxed but firm grip on handle for flat or uphill

    • Palm on top of strap or hand open slightly with crux of hand pushing down on strap for down hill

Forearm/Elbow position

                • Straight arm more for fitness vs bent arm more for walking and hiking. Straight arm is a pivoting and swing from shoulder allowing for greater push forward. The bent arm is more for weight distribution and balance used more in Hiking, trekking and backpacking.

Preparing for a walk

    • For a long walk eat something high in carbohydrates. Such as oatmeal, dry whole grain cereal, a whole wheat bagel, or sometimes a power bar, and a banana. Do not eat anything heavy or fatty, eat too much, or eat anything that might upset your stomach (this will be different for each individual). Whatever you eat should be something you have previously tried, so you know how you react to it. It is best to eat at least an hour before start of the walk and be sure to drink water also. Urinate at the last minute prior to starting the walk, and completely empty your bladder.

      Be sure to drink water during and after the walk. If possible eat a good combination of carbs and proteins after the walk. It is also important that you have had enough carbohydrates and water the few days prior to the walk

General health

      1. stretching

      2. diet

      3. hydration

      4. sun protection

      5. temperature/clothing/hats

      6. shoe/socks type and fit

      7. daily routine and habits

      8. Do other activities

      • that compliment


    • Gather equipment

      • Pole

      • Baggy

      • rubber band

      • snacks

      • Water

      • cap

      • Sun glasses

      • emergency items

Sequence of a pole walker

1) Warm up
2) Stretching/Flexibility exercises: recommend more of a “dynamic mobility exercise” involving taking the body through slow , exaggerated and rhythmical movements.
3) Pole Walk
4) Cool down
5) Stretch

Warming up and stretches

Make every walk a complete workout by including these elements, and following the correct sequence. Neglecting to do so will make walking more difficult, and increase the risk of injury.

Warming up:

Prepares the heart for a gradual increase in intensity minimizing chances of cardiac abnormalities such as arrhythmias & ischemias (insufficient blood to the heart) and allows for a more gradual blood pressure increase. allows for circulation to open up to various needed muscle groups and to vital organs.

Warming up should be gradual bringing your heart rate from resting to 50 to 60% of Max target heart rate (HRmax). Should take t least 5 mins for fit people and longer if unfit (allowing for shunting of shunting of blood from visceral to muscles, lungs, skin and heart)

Note: in resting state on 15% of the blood flows to the skeletal muscles while the majority flow to the major organs such as brain, liver and intestine. During exercise blood demand goes up to 80% to muscles. This opening up of blood supply to the muscles takes time hence the warm-up period.

Muscles are more pliable after warming therefore stretching is done after warm-up.

Aerobic respiration at the muscle sites takes time to initiate for muscle activity and warm up will get that going otherwise, anaerobic respiration occurs (building up lactic acid).

Warm up - Warming up is exercising at a lower intensity in order to get the blood circulating and let your body know that you are preparing for exercise. For many of your walks it will only be necessary to warm up about five minutes. As you progress through your walking program you will need to warm up longer on days you will do your fast workouts.

A good warm up is to walk without using your poles allowing the lower body muscles to warm-up first. Then holding the poles in the middle down the arm casually begin to swing them. Do so for 5 minutes. getting the heartrate to 50 to 60% HR max.


Flexibility (Dynamic mobility) exercises - These exercises can be a part of your warm up and should be done after you have warmed up with 5 to 10 minutes of easy walking. The faster you plan to walk the more time you will need to dedicate to flexibility exercises. There are many different exercises in this group.

Important rules for stretching:

1) Never stretch cold muscles. The best time to stretch is after your walk. If you have problem areas they can be stretched prior to your walk, but only do this after you have warmed up.

2) Do not bounce. Go into a stretch slowly and hold gently. Stretch to the point of feeling a gentle pull, but never to the point of pain

3) Hold each stretch for 30 to 40 seconds. If you have problems with a particular area stretch that area twice. (hold for 30-40 seconds release, then stretch again.)

There are so many stretches it is impossible to cover them all. Be sure to stretch all the major muscle groups, and put extra focus on any areas you have trouble with.

Here are a few to try:

Toe points -- Stand on one leg and lift the other foot off the floor. Gently point your toe and hold for a few seconds. Next flex your foot pointing your toes up. Do this five or ten times on each foot.

Ankle Circles -- While standing on one leg lift the other foot off the floor. Gently point your toe and rotate your ankle. Do about ten circles in each direction. This exercise can be performed while standing, sitting, or lying on your back with leg raised.

Overhead Reach -- Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Reach up with one arm and then reach over your head and to the opposite side. Keep your hips steady and your shoulders straight. Relax and repeat with the other side.

While standing on one leg lift the other foot off the floor. Gently point your toe and rotate your ankle. Do about ten circles in each direction. This exercise can be performed while standing, sitting, or lying on your back with leg raised.

The Twist -- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms straight out, parallel to ground. Keep your lower body stationary while swinging your arms from side to side. Do this several times to loosen up your waist, back, and shoulders.

Arm Circles -- Hold your arms straight out to your side parallel to the ground. Make small circles going backward, gradually getting larger and larger. Rest for a second and do the same thing in the forward direction.

Calf Stretch -- Stand on your toes on a step or curb. Hold on to something for balance. Remove your left foot and slowly allow the right heel to move down. Hold this position. Be sure to keep you body upright and straight. Release and repeat on the other side.

Another calf stretch -- Take a big step forward with your left foot, keeping you right heel on the ground. Hold the position and repeat on the other side. Be sure to keep your body upright and your abs tight, do not arch your back.

Shin Stretch -- Standing up, hold on to a stationary object. Stand with your weight on one leg and straighten it. Place your other foot on the ground, with toes pointed and your toenails toward the floor. With the tops of your toes touching the ground, roll your foot and leg forward, from the ankle. Release and repeat on the other side.

Hamstring and Lower Back -- Slowly bend forward from your waist with your knees slightly bent. Reach for the floor and hold. Only bend as far as comfortable.

Outer thigh and buttocks and spine -- While lying on your back bring your right knee up. Place your left hand on your thigh and gently pull it over to your left side. Do not pull at the knee. Your shoulders, left leg and back should remain flat. Pull gently. Then repeat on the left side.

Lower back -- While lying on your back, bring both knees up towards the chest with the hands. Round the lower back and relax into the stretch. Don't do this stretch on a hard will bruise the spine!

Quadriceps Stretch -- Standing up, hold on to a stationary object. Bend your right knee, bringing your foot toward your buttocks. Keeping your left knee slightly bent, grasp your right ankle with the opposite hand. Slowly pull your leg up and back, bringing your foot at high as comfortable. Repeat with other leg. (To protect your knee... think of pulling the quads back rather than pulling the foot toward your buttocks.)

Shoulder Stretch -- Standing upright, cross left arm over chest. Place your right hand on your upper arm and pull arm in tight to chest. Be sure to keep shoulders down and do not pull at the elbow. Hold, and then repeat stretch with other arm.

Neck Relaxer -- Turn and look over your right shoulder and hold. Repeat on the left side. Don't hyper-extend the neck, or tilt it backwards.

Next, gently drop the head so that the ear goes towards the right shoulder and hold. Return to upright position. Repeat forward and on the left side. Keep the spine in an upright position and don't hyper-extend the neck, jerk, or tilt the head backwards.

3) Pole Walk - Now that you have warmed up you should be ready to complete your walk at your normal walking pace. For the first few weeks do not push too hard. Your breathing should be elevated, but you should not be gasping for air. A rule of thumb that works for most people is... If you can not talk you are walking too fast, if you can carry a tune you are walking too slow.

4) Cool down - At the end of your walk you need to walk at a slower pace to cool down (reduce intensity). The harder you have worked out the longer you should cool down. In the beginning your walks are very short and you only need to cool down a couple of minutes. As your walking time and intensity extends so should your cool down period. Usually 5mins after a fairly intense pole walk. Carry the poles horizontally the last two minutes. Also breathing exercises can be incorporated here. Cooling down is essential in vigorous walking as the legs act as “partner pumps” aiding in the pumping of blood in the lower extremities to the upper. So cooling down helps continue the partner pumping minimizing blood pooling and keeping the supply of blood moving to the head reducing light-headedness and also riding lactate and lactic acid from leg muscles.

5) Stretch - This is such a neglected area for many people. Start off right and take the time to stretch AFTER every workout. In the beginning stretches should take at least 5 minutes. As you increase distance and pace you will probably need to stretch longer.

As you improve your pace you may wish to include more flexibility exercises into your routine. This becomes more important on your fast/hard workout days.

Review of sequence for walker

  1. Warm up

  2. Stretching/Flexibility exercises: recommend more of a “dynamic mobility exercise” involving taking the body through slow , exaggerated and rhythmical movements.

  3. Pole Walk

  4. Cool down

  5. Stretch

Pole Walking for fitness

  • Upright posture

1. Poles across your back with arms back around the poles lock into elbow joint, place hands flat on front side hips, shoulders relaxed and then practice walking upright with poles across back.

    1. shoulder position relaxed but square

    2. back position upright

    3. head position (up, looking straight ahead toward the horizon)

    4. hip position aligned with back and relaxed

    5. Walk a bit with the poles across the back so as to feel walking in an upright position.

  • Remove poles from across back and put straps on hands

  • For Fitness walking the following applies: allow poles to hang loose in hands held mostly by strap

  • Place tips so dragging from behind near heels

  • Keeps head, back, shoulders and hips as before walk forward dragging the poles.

  • Swing arms forward and back naturally arc with your gait

  • Once use to this walking posture start swinging the arms with a greater arc swinging from the shoulders (hands should not go higher than belly button as a rule of thumb) and now gently closing the fingers around the handles loosely. Practice open and closing hand around the handle so as to determine a firm but not tight grip.

  • As you obtain a better feel for the arm swing then grasp the handle on the top of the up swing

  • The pole tip will strike the ground at he middle of your stride and you will feel a push forward from the pole on your shoulder and not your elbow.

  • Incorporate a rhythm to the swing and you will naturally see that as your right leg moves forward your left shoulder will swing the left arm slightly forward.

  • As the left leg moves forward then the right shoulder will swing the right arm slightly forward. You will feel a slight rotation in the core muscles of your body. Opposite movements of leg and arm side. Left leg forward then Right arm forward

  • At the end of the back-swing relax your hand opening your fingers slightly and also relax your forearm.

  • As the arm swing forward grasp the handle once again and push the pole tip to the ground.

  • Poles are angled back with tip (no further than 10 inches behind the heel) If a road foot is on the tip it should lie parallel to the ground.

  • Try not to allow the pole tip to hit in front of your feet

  • Walk with forward arm swing and forward leg opposite of each other. This allows for greatest balance and walking alignment.

  • Front pole plant and front foot ground strike occurs at the same time.

  • Therefore, the pole strikes the ground in the middle of the stride.

  • Incorporate a little shoulder swing, forward and backwards.

  • When right foot moves forward the left shoulder swings slightly forward.

  • Feel a slight rotation in your core muscles. you are working your obliques and Abdominal muscles

  • As your arm swings back release your grip and relax the forearm and as the arm swings forward grasp the handle and push down on the pole striking the ground. This will work your hands, forearms, triceps, deltoids, lats and pecs. Provide good circulation through the hands and arms.

Practice and understanding

  • Leg movement

  • Arm swing: opposite leg and arm swing allows for proper diagonal stride with the hips involved in a counter-swinging motion. If the pole and leg are placed on the same side, you are not able to perform the proper diagonal stride with the hips involved in a counter-swinging motion. As the arms continue to move the poles, the torso and hips should be involved in a counter-swinging motion from the lower body. This effectively works the mid-torso muscle groups

  • feet planting

  • pole planting

  • pole release: Walking with Closed Hands Keeping your hands closed at all times does not allow for proper blood circulation. Walking with Open Hands Walking with hands open all the time reduces the efficiency of your poling. The hands should constantly be in a “grip-n-go” state with the pole. They should grip the pole every time the pole hits the ground, then let it go as it is drawn back behind the body, finishing up with an open hand.


  • pole walking dynamics and timing: planting the pole at the same time opposite foot strikes reduces the impact on that leg.

Practicing the proper Nordic walking techniques, you will get a more complete and fun workout. Keep the poles close to the body, lean slightly forward, and remember to open and close the hand with each step..

  • Breathing while walking

  • head positions

  • resting

  • stride:

  • gait:

  • foot work: every step should begin with the heel touching the ground and rolling forward to the ball and toe area, where you will push off to propel yourself forward. (supination to pronation)

  • People who are more fit can raise their heart rate even higher by using the poles to employ various techniques like jogging, running, jumping strides or skating.

With Nordic jogging, you’ll utilize more of the bottom of the foot, not rolling from heel to toe. The higher and longer strides are achieved by a combination of more forceful poling and more intense leg work.

Nordic skating uses jumping strides that zig-zag from left to right like a typical skating technique.

  • uphill

  • downhill

  • Traverse

  • Up and down stairs

  • When not to use poles

  • Shoes

    • great fit

    • low heel

    • flexible sole

    • light weight, breathable fabric

    • Heel lateral support for better stability

  • Warming up before and Cooling and Stretching after walk

    • 5 min warm up walk

    • 5 min cool down walk

    • stretch calves and shins

    • ankle circles

    • toe points

    • .

    • .

  • 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat

    • A healthy rate of weight loss is approximately one to two pounds per week. If you are losing faster than that you may be losing bone and muscle mass in addition to fat.

    • In order to average one pound per week it would be necessary to burn an additional 500 calories per day. (7 days a week X 500 calories per day = 3500 calories.)

      If you do not have the time or energy to burn the additional 500 calories a day you can use a combination of calorie reduction and exercise. Such as burning 300 calories a day through exercise and reducing calorie intake by 200 calories.

    • On average walking one mile burns 100 calories per mile.

    • For a long walk eat something high in carbohydrates. Such as oatmeal, dry whole grain cereal, a whole wheat bagel, or sometimes a power bar, and a banana. Do not eat anything heavy or fatty, eat too much, or eat anything that might upset your stomach (this will be different for each individual). Whatever you eat should be something you have previously tried, so you know how you react to it. It is best to eat at least an hour before start of the walk and be sure to drink water also. Urinate at the last minute prior to starting the walk, and completely empty your bladder.

      Be sure to drink water during and after the walk. If possible eat a good combination of carbs and proteins after the walk. It is also important that you have had enough carbohydrates and water the few days prior to the walk

    • An average fitness walking pace is close to a 15 minute mile. But, a good pace will vary depending on your fitness level, walking technique, walking goals, and terrain. For general fitness walking you should walk at a pace that increases your heart rate, and you can maintain for 30 to 60 minutes. Use the talk test... if you can't speak without gasping for air you are walking too fast. If you are walking slow enough that you can carry a tune you are probably walking too slow..

Uphill vs Down hill

  • Flat ground (straight arm vs bent arm, pole plant in front of toe or at heel, shoulder swing vs elbow/shoulder swing, same side or alternate arm leg swing)

  • Slight Uphill; lean forward a bit and take longer stride. Recommend straight arm, with shoulder swing, pole plant at/behind heel.

  • Slight Downhill; smaller steps and bend the knees to lower the center of mass..

  • Steeper uphill; Shorten poles a bit, greater lean forward and bending the knees

  • Steeper downhill. Lengthen poles a bit, place pole in front, make sure straps are on properly. can use straps to support weight or place palm on top of handle and support weight on top of pole.

> 90 degrees

Full, Normal and Speed

Great for terrain that provides

maximum bite or traction of the tip

placement so a more aggressive angle

or longer pole can be used.

90 degree

Terrain an Off-Terrain

< 90 degrees

For speed or for less work of

arm swing or forward motion

Off terrain Nordic walking and for lower body orthopedic problems and for rehabilitation.

Pole tips plant at the same time as the opposite foot on each step.

Arm motion is kept at a minimum allowing poles to swing into position.

Gentle pressure downward unloads the leg as you feel the body lift upward.

Poles are at 90 degrees or maybe slightly less in length.

Nordic walking in soft terrain

Using steel tip

Must compensate for the less push off by increasing the forward motion of the poles.

Pole tip swings forward to be planted beside the lead foot.

Arm motion is like reaching out to shake someones hand. (sawing action)

The push off phase can be maintain until the tip loses traction or arm and pole can be extended with pole tip leaving the ground,

poles 90 degrees or slightly greater in length

Nordic Walking/Speed

To walk faster than normal speed first must step faster.

Poles less than 90 degrees if little bite or less traction or relatively less than normal speed walking pole lengths. So relatively shorter pole length than normal speed walking and by moving the arm primarily at the elbows you can increase your step rate.

Great for shorter leg people who have to walk with longer leg and greater stride length people or for people who want a faster pace fitness pole walk.

Normal Nordic Walking

Feels the most natural.

Used when terrain doesn't allow for aggressive push offs and longer pole lengths.

Begin with Full-Power then increase the bending of the elbow until the arm movement is about fifty-fifty between the shoulders and the elbow.

The hand should be about at the height of your belly button.

Full Power Nordic Walking

Recruits the most muscles for a fitness walking allowing for maximum push off with the poles.

In the optimum condition is allows for the arm finishing the push off to end up straight inline with the body and the pole behind the body.

Best in soft terrain where the tips can really bite.

Not recommended for people with concerns of lower body areas such as bad knees.

This method has the least unloading of weight and least stabilization of lower body.

Start with open hand style then gently grasp handles.

Lift the tip a few inches off the ground when bringing the arm forward.

Do not swing pole tips forward.

the tip should plant about 10 to 20 inches behind the lead foot.

Arms should remain almost straight.

On soft terrain where push off is increased the hand can release from the poles at the end of the push off phase.

Open hand to get started

Place the pole tips behind your feet and relax your arms and shoulders.

Walk forward with hands open (the poles held to your wrists by the straps) and the pole dragging behind you.

Allow your arms to swing naturally with hands remaining open. opposite arm moving forward with opposing leg.

Once the motion of the arms swinging while walking feels comfortable, exaggerate the arm motion on the forward swing and gently grasp the pole handle and push off with the trailing arm.

This is Nordic walking.

    1. Pole Maintenance

The most common complaint about trekking poles is that the locking mechanism will sometimes slip during use. This can usually be prevented with regular cleaning and drying of the locking mechanism. This maintenance also helps to add significantly to the lifespan of the poles by preventing internal corrosion.

Here is the general procedure for most poles (check the manufacturer's instructions to confirm the procedure for your model):

  1. Completely separate the sections by unlocking or loosening each section until they can be pulled apart easily.

  2. Once the poles are dismantled, remove any dirt or moisture from the expander system and the seams between sections.

  3. Use a soft cloth to dry the connection points and the inside of the poles as much as possible. If necessary, use a soft nylon brush to remove any dirt or debris that may have gotten inside the poles. Note: Never use any kind of lubricant (WD-40 or such) or alcohol-based product on the internal mechanisms as that could cause corrosion.

  4. Inspect the expander pieces for damage and replace parts if necessary.

  5. Once you have dismantled and cleaned the poles, allow them to air dry for at least several hours before reassembling.

Allows keep the inside shaft dry otherwise it will corrode. If corrosion will need to ream out shaft. Especially if you use it at the beach or on salt.

Cleaning cork handles:

A little washing powder on hands and rub and work into cork with warm water. After a few minutes rinse with cold water. Dab with a paper towel and let air dry.

Nylon straps can be cleaned with a small brush with bio-cleaner and rinsed with cool water and dried at room temp.

Wipe down pole shaft with a damp cloth.

Other uses for poles:

  1. resting on them by leaning on them

  2. Use to reach for something

  3. To move objects out of the way

  4. for protection from vicious creatures

  5. knock objects off such as an apple from a tree

  6. multiple secondary functions.

  7. Backpackers commonly use their poles as a handy place to store duct tape for in-the-field repairs. Simply wrap a few strips around the poles.

  8. Ultralight backpackers who camp with a tarp shelter rather than a tent often use their trekking poles as support poles for the shelter.

  9. Hikers can use their poles as a probe when confronting a water hazard.

  10. If you injure an ankle or knee while hiking, poles can double as an emergency crutch or even a makeshift splint.

Class Preparation


Geriatric MD doctor

Bio-mechanic specialist

Physical therapist




Different types of poles

Hiking/Trekking poles

Nordic Poles

Walking poles

Ski poles


Liability/Wavier forms

Individual health sheet with personal goal

Incline/decline walking slopes

Duct tape

Rubber tips






Liability/Wavier forms on clipboard

Pen attached to clipboards


Health assessment

Individual Health form with goals and why pole walking.

Appendix 1

Pole Walking Muscles

Muscle groups


upper body: Latissamo dorsi, triceps, and obliques

lower body:


other: upright posture, helping breathing and endurance


upper body: Abdominals, pectorials, biceps,

Appendix 2

About walking

Gait how your limbs move or their pattern in walking

A stride is 2x your step length

A step length

  • An average women's step is 2.2 feet

  • An average man's step is 2.5 feet


  • women's step (inches) = height (inches) x .413

  • man's step 9inches) = height (inches) x.415

500 steps = ¼ mile

1000 steps = ½ mile

2000 steps = 1 mile

10,000 steps = 5 miles = daily recommended distance

One mile is equal to 5280 feet. Most people say it takes about 2000 steps for every mile. Of course everyone's stride is different. An average stride is usually somewhere between 2 and 3 feet in length. So on average it takes between 1760 and 2640 steps to complete one mile.

Appendix 3

Pole Walking Benefits

In the beginning of Nordic walking some experienced the perils of injury mainly from incorrect form. Also, technology was not yet developed to take a pole from the ski slope onto a hard surface area. In particular, the impact transferred through the poles and into the wrists and shoulders caused injuries.


Today we can see that walking with poles have evolved. Straps and rubber shoes have been developed and applied to the poles to decrease the impact. Pole walking techniques have been explored that maximize gains while minimizing the risks of injury.

Walking with poles has come into its own as an exercise method, and now some have even tagged these techniques with names like Nordic walking, Ski walking, exerstriding or Stefing.


The fitness benefits are now outstanding when it comes to using poles. For the generation that enjoys activity yet experiences pain, this might be the right solution; adding poles to a walking routine decreases impact to the ankles, knee and hips. This is especially fortunate for those who have had hip replacement surgery or knee problems due to wear and tear. Sound familiar? Then this may be something you need to look into.

Even if you haven't had such problems, adding the poles is a great way to ramp up your gains from your workout. You can burn up to 30 to 50 percent more calories by using the poles, as using them can lead to 90 percent involvement of your muscular system.

The numbers speak for themselves. For example, let's compare walking alone versus walking with poles, for a duration of 30 minutes for a woman, age 40, who weighs 132 pounds. While she will burn 150 calories while walking, this figure jumps to 300 calories when walking with poles.


For runners, this tool should not be neglected either. You can increase your cardiovascular capacity by simply implementing the poles and various stride patterns such as the arm stride, back stride, lunge stride, heel stride, skip stride, large skip stride and so forth. Those strides, which I teach in clinics in New York City, are referred to as Stefing techniques. Using such techniques, runners benefit from a higher-intensity workout, change of stride pattern and increased VO2 output, changing from aerobic to anaerobic training, and most important, a break from the same repetitive motion or running.

If you have been to Central Park in New York City, you have seen it all. Young and old are sharing the running lanes. As a professional, I have also seen incorrect techniques: forward-headed body postures, internally rotated shoulders, incorrect foot techniques and so forth. The implementation of the poles, however, can make a difference in your posture. Pushing into the poles with your hands to move your body forward strengthens your back musculature. The strengthening of your back musculature can improve a forward-headed body posture if done correctly. It can help you to improve your shoulder flexibility. Yet correct form is important with any movement you do.


Pole Walking No Passing Trend

Right now, when you see me in the park "Stefing" you may stop and think that this is another trend that will come and go. But you'd probably be mistaken.

Look at our demographics. We are getting older. And we suffer from wear and tear in our body.

Even as this is happening, you might still be on the lookout for challenging workouts. Now you need to ask yourself the question: "How can I accomplish this without the wear and tear on your ligaments and joints?" The implementation of the poles is one solution while you spend time in the outdoors.

Say "hi" when you see me Stefing in the park. I am happy to introduce you to the art of walking or running with poles. How will you know it is me? I will be yodeling from time to time. And that goes to show that there is nothing nobody will not do in the park.

And if you are looking for clinics in your area, just search on the Internet: "walking with poles."

Stefan Aschan is a leading expert on lifestyle, health and fitness who has helped more than 30,000 people get fit through advice on nutrition, fitness and lifestyle changes. For your free must read "updates and solution" newsletter on how to have 10 times more success, stay on top of your goals, and accomplish the change of body and appearance,


Q: Can I use trekking poles for backcountry skiing?

A: It depends on the type of skiing. Sectioned poles are a great choice for backcountry downhill skiing with some models designed with that use in mind. On the other hand, classic cross-country ski touring requires a more aggressive pushing motion, so a standard one-piece skiing pole is usually better for that. Also, ski touring poles should be a bit longer, so taller people might find that trekking poles won't extend far enough to suit them.

Q: Do trekking poles negatively affect trails? How can I reduce my environmental impact?

A: Much like hiking boots, trekking poles can cause at least some impact to a trail. They can scratch rocks, erode trails and potentially even harm vegetation alongside the trail. To minimize your impact, follow these practices:

  • Keep the tips of your poles on the trail and not on the trailside vegetation.

  • Avoid using poles in particularly sensitive areas where wildflowers or other vegetation are directly beside the trail. If you're on flat terrain, consider saving them for uphill and downhill sections only in order to minimize soil damage.

  • Use rubber pole tip protectors to cover the carbide point so they won't dig into the ground as deeply. The use of pole baskets can, in certain circumstances, also minimize the penetration of pole tips into the ground.

  • Remove pole baskets in areas where they can unnecessarily snag and damage vegetation.

Q: What are the downsides of anti-shock poles?

A: The anti-shock feature is especially helpful for those with weak ankles, knees or hips, but it does add somewhat to the weight and price of trekking poles. If you primarily want trekking poles for balance and support, you can probably do without the anti-shock feature.



Most obviously, poles reduce the impact of hiking on knee joints and leg muscles. Arm and shoulder muscles support and relieve the leg muscles. With the basic "hands above the heart" position necessitated by the poles, circulation is improved and heart rate is reduced. The "rhythm" created by walking with poles leads to relaxed, more regular breathing and increased stamina.

A landmark study published by Dr. G. Neureuther in 1981 proved that use of "ski poles" while walking reduces the pressure strain on the opposite leg by approximately 20%. Furthermore, while walking on level ground, poles reduce the body weight carried by the legs by approximately 5 kg every step. Move to an incline, and that reduction increases to 8 kg. This translates into tons of weight -- yes, tons -- for even a two hour hike.

Jacquie Hunt, editor of a popular hiking newsletter, weighs in with additional health benefits: "An advantage that I found once I started using poles is that my hands no longer swell up when it is hot. Keeping your arms moving so the blood doesn't pool in the hands is a lot safer than keeping hands high on pack straps and risking a smashed face if you trip."

Finally, poles help many people with balance issues. We all have different comfort levels when balancing along puncheons, crossing streams, etc.; for some hikers, trekking poles are worth their weight in gold. They can certainly aid when crossing soft ground, and can be indispensable for tasks like river crossings, and scree running.


First, using poles increases your total energy expenditure. Your arms were not designed to prop up your body, nor to distribute weight. Even Peter Clinch, whose "Pete's Pole Page" is long recognized as an on-line authority, says, "...if you have tired legs and knees then poles can be a win, but if you have a tired body, with your cardiovascular system at its limits, then poles may be more of a hindrance than a help." Those "tons of weight" that poles save the knees aren't carried up the hill by themselves. Many hikers with good legs are unaware that they actually may run out of gas more quickly by using poles.

Not only do poles make hands and arms do what they aren't designed to do, they prevent your hands from being hands! Open the map, eat a snack, wipe your brow, grab a rock, snap a photo, read a compass...all of these become clumsy and time consuming with poles in hand.

The final "legitimate" con is that many people simply do not use poles correctly. Clinch says, "judging from the people I see in the UK using poles, the majority of folk get little or no benefit from them." Without proper technique, poles are simply in the way. And that brings us to the "perceived" drawbacks...

Many pole users are road hogs. They flail about madly, and you'd better get out of their way -- even when you have the uphill right-of-way. "It's all about me" seems to be their credo on the trail. Just as there are rude, inconsiderate drivers on our highways, there are rude hikers on our trails. Let's be clear on this: Not all pole users are inconsiderate, that's obvious. But it seems that all selfish hikers use every trail hogging technique available, and poles are part of their arsenal.

Hunt says "My chief gripe about pole users is the tendency to start carrying or dragging them point backward whenever the trail gets less steep or their arms get tired or whatever. One has to keep well behind such hikers." (For those of you pointing fingers, I have never accidentally on purpose stomped on poles being dragged on the ground. Never.)

Too many poles, too many scratches. Some of the most revered trails in the country are now hopelessly scratched. New Hampshire's Presidential Range, for example, is home to routes that have existed for over 150 years. Some of these trails, such as the Crawford Path, are historic treasures in their own right, but are now scoured and defaced with countless claw marks. Considering that all of the routes to summit and descend Mt. Washington take less than a day, the over-use of trekking poles on this peak is unnecessary, and mostly a reflection of our selfish society.


Benefits of Pole Walking

Nordic Walking provides ALL the low impact benefits of walking, while reducing knee and joint strain, burning more calories, working the upper body, increasing oxygen consumption and providing a more effective aerobic workout.


When fitness walking the old fashioned way without poles you use a short stride and short arm swings. Because of the longer stride with your new Nordic Walking technique the actual pole swing is an enhanced move of normal opposing arm swing whilst walking. The range of motion is enhanced as well as your posture. Because the pole tips stay behind to push off the majority of the motion comes from a 'longer lever' swing from the shoulder. As your pole tips make contact with the ground your body will propel forward with both speed and strength.


Get properly adjusted: The height of your poles is related to injuries so make sure you buy the correct size when you buy Nordic Walking poles. Purchasing the adjustable poles for walking is a good tip as they are great for most height ranges. To measure this, place your hands in the straps and the rubber tips should be next to your heels. Stand with good posture then drop your hands forward in the straps so you lengthen through your elbows. Wrists should now be lower than elbows.


* Make sure to stand tall: One of the main benefits of good Nordic Walking technique is the postural strength it gives you. When you walk try your best to keep the bottom of your chin level with the surface. This technique will help balance your head more appropriately with the rest of your frame which in turn will maximise your fitness results.

  • Coordination: Your NW will take a little bit of getting used too as new things always do, especially getting your coordination right. We call it the 'opposing arm and leg swing' which is the natural way we walk although a lot of people never use their upper bodies. Keep your hands nice and relaxed and the further that your lead hand goes out in front then the more you'll see how the pole tip propels you forward. Practice makes perfect here!

  • * Longer is much better: Your fitness benefits will be totally maximised by using a relaxed, longer arm technique. Try not to bend excessively at the elbows, loosen you grip and lengthen your poles (imagine you were going to reach out and shake someone's hand). It's very important here that your movement does come from the shoulders and not the elbows.

  • Don't rush: When changing your stride make sure to take your time, there is no rush! After a while your techniques will become second nature and you'll be able to have lots of fun without having to think too hard. You may also want to walk with others buy joining your local Nordic Walking classes which is really fun too.

Nobody ever said that your Nordic Walking techniques would come naturally or easy, they will take some practice to get right. The good news is that with time and effort you will get there as everything done in repetition eventually becomes effortless.

John P. Porcari, PhD, FACSM, a professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, found that using walking poles increased the intensity of walking from 68% to 78% of maximal heart rate in a group of cardiac rehabilitation patients. The poles also increased their caloric expenditure by 22%, compared to walking without poles. In his study, pole users used an average of 45 more calories in a 30-minute workout.

Pole Walking Benefits

  • A higher heart rate of five to 17 beats per minute.
    * An energy consumption increase by an average of 20 percent compared with ordinary walking.
    * A releasing of muscle tension and pain in the neck and shoulder region.
    * A significant increase in the lateral mobility of the neck and spine.
    * No aggravation to the joints and knees.
    * For overweight people, a reduction in the load on the knees.
    * More calories burned (you burn about 400 calories per hour compared with 280 calories per hour for normal walking).

  • decrease the stress in your lower body by 30 to 40 percent.

  • burn about six calories per minute, and with the poles I burn about nine calories per minute.


Supercharged Fitness – POLE WALKING is a low impact, yet higher intensity workout. 30 minutes of Pole Walking = 50 minutes of regular walking! This energizing form of walking with poles increases your cardio by 20%, burns 48% more calories than normal walking, and involves 90% of all the muscles of your body, upper and lower. You’ll feel the increased stamina you build from pole walking with little increase in perceivable effort.

Walking with the poles helps build/tone biceps, triceps and shoulder area muscles and expands my chest breathing capacity.

Provides moderate and regular exercise, such as walking 3-5 times a week, for 20 to 30 minutes, is needed to maintain and improve health without increasing the risk of adverse effects, such as musculoskeletal injuries that may be associated with more vigorous exercise forms, such as jogging or running.


Road Feet, Trail Feet, Basket Feet, and Carbide Steel Tips – Adjustable for urban city walking, S mountain hiking, or traveling!


Less stress on the joints Less Impact – Easier on the joints! The use of poles will decrease the impact of weight bearing stress by 26%. The pole straps and upper body absorb much of the impact and offer better support. Walking poles can lighten your load and improve balance, with supportive assistance to lower the impact on your spine, hips and legs.

Each pole, when planted, reduces weight on the legs and back by at least that of the arm (4 - 6 kg / 9 - 13lb). Applying pressure to the poles can easily raise this number to 7 - 11 kg (15 - 25 lb.) per step! Anyone who does not believe this should try hiking with a 18 kg (40 lb.) pack for 30 minutes while effectively using hiking poles, then continue without the poles for a few minutes. They will notice the difference -- It is major!


Effectively using two trekking poles reduces fatigue, increases speed (level, uphill and downhill), provides excellent stability, increases the distance that can be comfortably traveled in a day, and reduces accumulated stress on the feet, legs, knees and back by an estimated 8,877+ kg per kilometer (31,500+ lb. per mile).


Increased Bi-lateral balance, Straighter Posture – stability on steep, slippery trails, and support for your knees and hips. Walking poles offer bilateral stability, and radically improve balance. Better posture naturally results, as poles help you walk with a straighter back - better walking posture is easier on your whole body!

Reduces mental stress.

Nordic walking is suitable for all age groups and abilities of people who can walk, including those with some mobility limitations. If you have limited walking mobility, there is a good chance that you will discover that Nordic Walking enables you to move more easily and, therefore, to exercise at a higher intensity than you can not only when natural walking, but also when doing other physical activities.

A recent research study by the University of Brighton in East Sussex (to be submitted for publication) has shown that, among healthy people aged 60 and over, the amount of energy used and the heart rate level were on average 40% higher when Nordic walking compared to walking naturally*.

Individuals with differing abilities and fitness levels can all exercise in the same group allowing people to walk together and talk at the same time.

If you are a trained athlete or sports person, you can achieve training zone heart rates Nordic walking. It will, therefore, provide you with an alternative way of exercising major muscle groups at a high intensity.

Research has shown that, as a total body workout, Nordic walking can better improve an individual’s health, fitness and general well-being than natural walking**. An increasing amount of scientific research activity is further investigating the impact of Nordic walking on the human body***

Health Benefits

  • increased overall strength and endurance in the core muscles and the entire upper body

  • significant increases in heart rate at a given pace

  • greater ease in climbing hills

  • burning more calories than in plain walking

  • improved balance and stability with use of the poles

  • significant unweighting of hip, knee and ankle joints (depending on the style used)

  • density-preserving stress to bones of the upper and mid body

  • increased stride length and walking speed

Key general health improvement objectives you can achieve through Nordic walking include regular relaxation, recovery from illness and rehabilitation after treatment, e.g. post-operatively.

The International Nordic Walking Association states that:

“… cardiac patients, people with overweight, diabetes, COPD (bronchitis etc.)
and rheumatism have the perfect opportunity to improve their condition ….”
(INWA: 2005)

Lose and control weight … strengthen the back, legs and arms…

As you use your legs, arms, shoulders and chest/back muscles when Nordic walking, up to 90% of the body’s muscles are actively working**. On average, you will, therefore, expend 20% more calories than when naturally walking at the same walking speed**. Moreover, it can actually feel easier and less tiring Nordic walking than natural walking**. This is because, although you are using more muscles and doing more exercise, the effort is spread across the whole body.

reduce tension and pain in the neck, shoulder and back ...

Modern living generally means more of a sedentary than an active day-to-day lifestyle for most of us: sitting for long periods at home, at work or traveling. Combined with using computers, back pain, and neck and shoulder tension have become a very common, yet often invisible, health problem. With effective Nordic Walking technique, rotation of the spine is enhanced compared to natural walking. This strengthens spinal discs and muscles, thus reducing the likelihood of back pain.

Use of the recommended Exel Nordic Walker poles leads to a strengthening of the large back muscles that pull the shoulder blades down. This can significantly alleviate neck and shoulder tension.

The International Nordic Walking Association states that:

In walking with the specially designed poles, the joints are unburdened, leading to a release of tension in the neck and shoulder area and the spine is supported.” (INWA: 2005)

tackle repetitive strain injury (RSI) …

The Exel pole’s ergonomically designed glove-straps (very different to the ones on trekking/natural walking poles) enable you to release your grip as you push forward. Nordic Walking technique involves a squeezing then a releasing of your grip on the pole through the stride. This strengthens wrist muscles that can contribute to a lessening of RSI symptoms.

The International Nordic Walking Association states that:

In the treatment of instability of the pelvis, of whiplash, fibromyalgia, RSI and chronic back problems, experience has shown that Nordic Walking is a beneficial practice.” (INWA: 2005)

and take the load off your knees.

Nordic walking can be considerably more comfortable than both jogging and natural walking. This is because the upper body is also being exercised, thus reducing the load on your knees.

The International Nordic Walking Association states that:

For anyone with restrictions or complaints of the spine, hip joints, knees or ankles, Nordic Walking provides relief.” (INWA: 2005)


Fitness Benefits

The result is a full-body walking workout that can burn significantly more calories without a change in perceived exertion or having to walk faster, due to the incorporation of many large core and other upper-body muscles which comprise more than 90% of the body's total muscle mass and do work against resistance with each stride. "Normal walking" utilizes only 70% of muscle mass with full impact on the joints of the legs and feet.

Nordic walking produces up to a 46% increase in energy consumption compared to walking without poles. It can also increase upper body muscle endurance by 38% in just twelve weeks.


Heart rate is 5-17 beats per minute higher (e.g., 130 beats per minute in normal walking, versus 147 beats per minute in Nordic Walking).

  • Increases oxygen consumption and burns approximately 400 calories per hour (compared with 280 calories per hour for normal walking).

  • Releases pain and muscle tension in the neck and shoulder region, increasing the lateral mobility of the neck and spine.

  • Total body workout involves 90% of all muscles; actively engages forearm extensor and flexor muscles, rear part of the shoulder muscles, the large pectoral and broad back muscles; strengthens upper body and creates resistance to build better bone density.

  • Reduces load on knees and other joints.

  • Reduces heel strike force.

  • Consumes approximately 400 calories per hour (compared with 280 calories per hour for normal walking).

Key general fitness enhancement objectives you can achieve through Nordic walking include improving your physical condition, managing your weight and increasing your aerobic capacity.

Less challenging to adopt as a regular habit … easier to keep up …

As the effort of your upper body controls how intensely you Nordic walk, it is possible to walk at the same speed as family and friends whilst exercising at your own optimal level. This makes Nordic walking more enjoyable and you more likely to stick to your exercise programme.

an excellent way to improve your heart and lung function …

Research has revealed that high intensity Nordic walking results in heart rate reaching 75% of maximal values, while you are simply walking****. Exercise intensity can be increased further when running with Nordic Walking poles.

.. and an alternative high intensity training method for sports people and regular exercisers.

Nordic walking is an ideal cross-training technique, as it involves whole body muscular activity, high heart rate response and yet a lowered rate of perceived exertion (RPE). This means you can work at a higher intensity for longer more easily than with many other training techniques. As the perception (the RPE) when Nordic walking is that you are exerting less effort than you actually are, you feel relatively more comfortable whilst your heart is working at a significantly demanding level.

Nordic walking can, therefore, be an exciting, motivating and effective addition to your regular training programme.

Social and Emotional Benefits

Relieve stress and promote a personal sense of well-being …

by exercising on your own …

Once you’ve learned good Nordic walking technique and you’ve bought or hired a pair of Exel Nordic Walker poles, you’re then in control of when, where and how long you Nordic walk for.

or by enjoying the company of family, friends and new acquaintances. …

Alternatively, by walking at the same speed as a companion, but increasing your personal level of intensity by working your arms harder, you can gain all the above health and fitness benefits, while Nordic walking with family, friends or people you’re meeting for the first time. The intensity of exercise is determined by upper body effort. Nordic walking facilitates people of differing fitness and mobility levels to walk and talk together, as well as working to their own individual level.



In the beginning of Nordic walking some experienced the perils of injury mainly from incorrect form. Also, technology was not yet developed to take a pole from the ski slope onto a hard surface area. In particular, the impact transferred through the poles and into the wrists and shoulders caused injuries.

Today we can see that walking with poles have evolved. Straps and rubber shoes have been developed and applied to the poles to decrease the impact. Pole walking techniques have been explored that maximize gains while minimizing the risks of injury.

Incorrect techniques: forward-headed body postures, internally rotated shoulders, incorrect foot techniques and so forth. The implementation of the poles, however, can make a difference in your posture. Pushing into the poles with your hands to move your body forward strengthens your back musculature. The strengthening of your back musculature can improve a forward-headed body posture if done correctly. It can help you to improve your shoulder flexibility. Yet correct form is important with any movement you do.

Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) tear (9.5% of all pole walking injury and most common)– Thumb Abduction and Extension when falling with a spread hand on a pole or pole handle. The ligament is at the metacarpalphalangeal joint (MCP). The other side ligament is the Radial Collateral Ligament (RCL).

Prevention of UCL is not to have a pole in the hand. But a strap prevents the prevention of expelling the pole away from the hand so the best prevention is not to fall so be cautious of uneven surfaces.

Blisters: heel and on hand at strap.

BACKGROUND: Nordic pole Walking (NW) as trend sport is associated with beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system. Data regarding the injury and overload injury rates are pending. METHODS: 137 athletes (74 % females, 53 +/- 12 years, weight 73 +/- 13 kg, height 169 +/- 11 cm) were prospectively ask using a two-sided questionnaire. Mean NW experience was 212.8 weeks with 2.9 +/- 1.8 hours/week. The overall exposure was 29 160 h. RESULTS: NW injury rate was 0.926/1000 h. Falls were evident in 0.24/1000 h. The upper extremity was involved more frequently (0.549/1000 h) than the lower extremity (0.344/1000 h). The most severe injury was a concomitant shoulder dislocation and luxation of the proximal interphalangeal joint of the index finger after a fall. The most frequent injury in NW was a distorsion of the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb (0.206/1000 h) after fall. Shoulder injuries account for 0.171/1000 h with 0.069/1000 h shoulder dislocations. Distal radius fractures were rare as ankle sprains and shinspints (0.034/1000 h). Muscle injuries were encountered only at the gastrocnemius muscle (0.137/1000 h). No knee ligament injuries were noted. In 5%, NW injuries caused interruption of the performance, with all patients returning to sport within 4 weeks on the same level as before. DISCUSSION: Nordic Walking is safe. Most frequently, a Nordic walking thumb is encountered during a fall with the athlete holding on to the NW pole until the very last moment before the hand hits the ground with the pole handle as hypomochlium that forces the thumb into abduction and extension. Modifications of the grip construction as well as information of the athlete and behaviour changes may be preventive measures.



The first fitness walking poles with optional rubber tips (for hard surfaces, such as pavement) were the Exerstrider poles introduced by Tom Rutlin in the U.S. in 1988. Rutlin's efforts helped to urbanize fitness pole walking.

In 1997, Finnish ski pole manufacturer Exel, working with Marko Kantaneva, introduced the trademarked Nordic Walker poles equipped with more effective rubber tips/paws and special fingerless glove type straps. "Nordic walking" became the accepted term for fitness walking with specially designed poles. Although fitness walking with poles has been relatively slow to be embraced in North America, the Nordic skiing savvy Northern Europeans quickly embraced this dry land hybrid of two of their favorite fitness activities, Nordic skiing and walking, and a little more than a decade after its introduction in Europe, an estimated 8-10 million people (mostly in Northern Europe) have taken up fitness walking with specially designed poles as a regular form of exercise

Dr. Klaus Schwanbeck-developing nationwide health programs for 20 years.

Tom Rutlin founder of ExerstriderTM Nordic Walking Technique in USA

Marko Kantaneva, another pioneer of the sport.

Jayah Faye Paley – Trekking pole instructor and author on trekking poles

Sheri Simson – aka The Pole Lady, Founder of Keen -The Walking Pole Company









Fit Trek

Tone ‘n Trek

SWIX VIP NORDIC WALKING $69.95, Available in 14 fixed lengths, the aluminum poles weigh 7.5 ounces each and feel “light and durable,” Dr. Feldman said. “They were simple, comfortable and easy to use,” with a “good ergonomic” rubberized plastic grip. “Sturdy, reliable and straightforward, the poles are an all-around good pole, but nothing fancy.”

EXERSTRIDER OS2 FITNESS TREKKER, $89.95, These adjustable poles use an angled grip to keep the hand and wrist relaxed. Weighing 10.9 ounces each, the poles telescope to 31 inches, making them “good for travel,” Dr. Feldman said. The aluminum shaft “dampened vibrations well,” he said, but the lack of straps was an issue. “It’s fine for a beginner, but to go fast you need them to push off.”

FITTREK ENDURO NORDIC WALKING POLES, $49.95, These aluminum poles are eight ounces each, come in seven lengths and offer three tip options for walking on various road and off-road surfaces. “The poles were comfortable and sturdy, but slightly ill-weighted,” Dr. Feldman said. “When swinging the poles, they felt more staccato compared with the others.” And the rubber grip “got slippery.”

LEKI INSTRUCTOR, $149.99, Made of a carbon and aluminum composite, these poles weigh 7.8 ounces each and feature cork grips. Dr. Feldman praised the turn-and-lock length adjustment and easily detachable wrist straps, which meant he could keep his hand in the strap but still grab a water bottle. “These were light years ahead in terms of design and cosmetics,” Dr. Feldman said, making them his top pick. “But for a beginner the technology might be intimidating.”

EXEL FORMULA CORK, $119, Dr. Feldman said that these carbon poles, which weigh 6.4 ounces each and are available in seven lengths, were his second favorite. “They have an excellent strap-and-grip combination,” he said. “It wasn’t cumbersome to get your hand in and out.” The cork grip absorbed sweat, and the poles had an “effortless glide” when in motion. “But they didn’t appear as sturdy as some of the others,” he said.


Clubs in Sacramento


The next Step to Balance Walking is to meet with others whom are just getting started with the use of Poles incorporated in to their walk. In fact all ages, health ( with a Doctors advice of course if you have any risk factors to beginning a fitness program ) and fitness levels are welcomed... We will give instruction, provide poles as loaners, and group everyone in to the appropriate health - fitness - or sports experience group.


Sacramento Area Pole Walkers is a group dedicated to walking with specially designed poles. Whether you call it Nordic Walking, Pole Walking, Fitness Walking, or Balance Walking, doesn't matter a bit! Join us for pole walking opportunities in and around the Sacramento area. All fitness levels are welcome - if you can walk, you can pole walk!

Sacramento Area Pole Walkers is not intended to be a teaching atmosphere. This group is for those who know how to walk with poles - to gather with like minded individuals for fun and fitness. If you are looking for a class to learn how to use poles, you can contact for local learning opportunities.