correct technique of Nordic walking with sticks

Instructions with the correct technique of Nordic walking with sticks

Hello! You know, it is apparent that Nordic (or Scandinavian) walking is becoming more and more popular these days. Not long ago, people who went walking with poles or sticks but without any skis looked strange.  Today, it’s certainly no longer the case.

This kind of sport helps to work all the muscle groups. If you are keen on starting this kind of activity, then you should definitely read on. I will talk about the proper technique for Nordic walking with poles described in detail. You’d be surprised at how extraordinarily simple the instructions for mastering this activity are.

nordic walking

Article contents:

Basic Information

The point is simply just walking using two specifically designed poles walking sticks or poles similar to the ones used by skiers. In the past, it was practiced by cross-country skiers as part of their summer training routines.

The walking poles help reduce the strain and shock on the joints. This is one of the reasons why it is an ideal exercise for the elderly who often have problems with their joints. Plus, compared to some weight loss exercises, it can be great fun enjoying the views and fresh air that invigorate and make you feel more alive.

It goes without saying, walking does great wonders for health. It improves heart functions and helps normalize blood pressure.

Brief History

It was in the late 1930s when Nordic walking started as an exercise. It was practiced by Finnish Olympic cross-country skiers to keep fit and maintain their skills and technique during the summer. Years after that, more cross-country skiers practiced this exercise to build up their strength and endurance.

In 1966, a gym-teacher named Leena Jääskeläinen in Viherlaakso, Espoo, Finland, introduced this activity, called “walking with poles”, in her Physical Education classes. In 1979, Mauri Repo, the former head cross-country skiing coach of TUL in Finland, published a cross-country skiing manual and in it, he included training methods that involved walking and running with poles.

Since then the activity became more and more popular not only as a training method but also as a fitness regime suitable for all. In 1997, the English term “Nordic Walking” was officially adopted for this activity.

Main Benefits

One of the best advantages of this activity is that you can do it anytime and anywhere. The only thing you need is the special poles.

It is a great way to get rid of excess calories. During a standard fitness training, a person loses about 350 kcal. In 60 minutes of walking, you can burn about twice as much.

Done regularly, Nordic walking (or now also called ‘norking’) not only helps you keep in great shape, but it also helps maintain your overall health. It is recommended to be part of home fitness for those who have weight problems, heart complications, as well as respiratory issues.

Training outside in the fresh air is certainly better than inside the enclosed rooms of gyms and fitness centers. It is surely more enjoyable.

What are the possible benefits of Nordic Walking?

  • Improves work and stress on joints.
  • Feel energized to last the whole day.
  • Improves mental well-being.
  • Muscles of the legs and shoulder girdle are trained.
  • Core muscles are engaged.
  • Increases blood circulation and metabolism.
  • Improves lymph system functions.
  • Promotes bio-mechanically correct movement and gait.

Further, with the use of the poles, the activity helps strengthen the backbone especially for those whose backs are weak. This especially concerns children the elderly people.

Who should not do Nordic walking?

While this sport is very greatly beneficial, it still has disadvantages and contraindications. It is inadvisable for people who have the following complications:

  • Shoulder and joint injuries.
  • Acute hypertension.
  • Congenital musculoskeletal diseases and problems.

If there is nothing in the above-mentioned concerns you, then you can proceed with Nordic walking without anything to worry about.

nordic walk

Kinds of walking

There is a type of walking recommended for individual purposes. In general, there are three kinds of Nordic or Scandinavian walking:

  1. The performance is directed towards strengthening the body, making it healthier. This generally suits elderly people and beginners. It is ideal for those recovering from injuries.
  2. The engagement of the activity is directed towards full physical fitness. There is a focus on working the muscles and to reduce weight. The training is typically done at a high pace.
  3. Athletes use this to maintain physical condition and form.

Whichever type suits you, what is crucial is the regularity of the activity. It is preferable to go Nordic walking no less than twice a week. Ideally, it should take no less than 30 minutes, but it is recommended that the duration be gradually increased over time.

See also: What is the use of Scandinavian walking with sticks?

Choosing the right equipment

At this point, I’m sure that it is already very clear that for this fitness activity, you don’t need to buy any extraordinary equipment. All that you need — special poles or sticks! It is, however, important to select them properly.

In general, they have to be sturdy, but not heavy. It is better to buy poles which have replaceable tips. Poles are mostly made of aluminum or carbon fiber which are known for their durability.

For good technique and results, it is important to have the correct length of the pole. To determine this just follow this simple formula: your height in centimeters x 0.68. So, for example, if your height is 170 cm, then your pole length should be about 115 cm long. Pole lengths usually come in 5 cm intervals. So it is recommended you select the pole rounded down to the closest 5 cm. A rule of thumb that is followed is that your elbows should bend at a 90-degree angle when the pole is gripped and perpendicular to the ground. There are telescoping and adjustable poles available too. Although, fixed ones are considered more stable and lightweight.

Walking poles also have to have good straps and grips. Make sure that they allow you a firm and comfortable grip. Specialized gloves can also be purchased to prevent calluses and for more comfort.

Specialized shoes are not necessary though there are boots specially designed for this activity. The basic requirements are that the shoes need to be durable, flexible due to the heel-to-toe transition of your foot, and have a good grip.

The correct movement — the key to success

At first glance, the technique is very simple, but there are distinct characteristics. To maximize effectiveness and pleasure from the exercise, you should master the correct technique. Study and practice it until it becomes natural and automatic for you.

The technique resembles typical walking on skis but with particular qualities:

  1. When the right foot is leading, the left hand is also leading, and vice versa (just like normal walking).
  2. Swing the arms from the shoulder joint, not from the elbow joint As the arm swings forwards it will naturally bend slightly. This is called a ‘soft elbow’.
  3. Lift foot, pushing from the toes. Land on the heel, briskly rolling forward to lift again from the toes.
  4. The opposite pole hits the ground at the same time as the heel of the opposite foot.
  5. The hands are slightly loose to allow the poles to swing forward from the wrist straps.
  6. The tips of the poles are always pointing diagonally backward, never in front of the body.
  7. How much you push with your upper body determines the power you generate.
  8. Extend and push the pole back fully.
  9. Remember and repeat the steps.

Breathing correctly is also important. Inhale through the nose then exhale through the mouth.

what is nordic walking

Nordic walking for the elderly

For older people, Nordic walking is the ideal exercise. This is mainly because there is reduced stress on the joints. Plus, it is a wonderful help to the heart. In general, this kind of exercise is recommended for elderly people who also want to stay healthy and keep in shape.

Since age is not the only consideration, it is advisable to consult your physician first. The doctor may need to give specific instructions and reminders first.

Exercise duration — no more than 60 minutes. Type of walking —strengthening. One more piece of advice: always pay attention to the body to keep it fun and pleasurable.


This fitness activity truly deserves the positive responses it gets. Even people who are not very keen on various exercises would note that the technique for Nordic walking is all pretty basic. It’s also easy to see and believe that regularly going Nordic walking will result in weight loss and maintaining a fit body.

If you‘re not yet into walking for fitness, come on and try this.

That’s it for now. Remember, keep your health a priority.  Subscribe to this blog for updates to help you keep to that focus. Bye!



nordic walking

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nordic walking technique

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fitness walking

Questions and Answers:

Q: What muscles are worked when you go Nordic walking?

A:  It exercises 90% of your body’s muscles. It’s an excellent cardio exercise and it extensively engages your legs, core, arms, and shoulders.

Q: I’m rather unsure about what kind of poles to get: fixed or telescoping?

A: It’s really what you would be more comfortable with. The adjustable and telescoping ones are quite handy, but the fixed ones are known to be more durable especially since they receive significant impact.

Q: What kind of clothes should I wear?

A: You can wear what you typically put on when out running or fitness walking. Ideally, a shirt and trousers/shorts that are of light and breathable material. Quick-drying fitness apparel would be great too.