Nordic Walking to Skiing
By: XCZone.tv (2005/10/04)
“One of the fastest growing outdoor fitness activity on Earth.”
By XCZONE.TV Clean Oxygen Fed SportTM and Natural FitnessTM.
Thoughts turn to skiing and snow-shoeing, after the fall colours have long since faded, and the first cold winds have descended over the ground… that is leaving it a bit late.
It is soon going to be dark and cold after you finish work. You could stay inside where it is safe. But the rest of us will be outside Nordic walking as a group for an hour together and enjoying a pot-luck dinner under candle-light at one of the Cabins.
What is Nordic Walking?
Nordic Walking, at the early stages, is simply walking using short ski poles. The movement can be further refined by lengthening the stride and using the arms to assist a more dynamic motion. Eventually, Nordic Walking can imitate cross-country skiing to a remarkable degree.
What would compel someone to do such a thing?
Nordic Walking is one of the safest physical activities. There is an exceptionally easy, low-effort entry into the exercise, and lots of room for growth. This is why a seventy-year-old arthritic grand-mother and Olympic Skier can both participate in Nordic walking together and get something from the exercise. To see it, you wouldn’t think that something so simple can be so effective. But it is!
Are there other benefits that make it so attractive to the average person and athlete alike?
Nordic Walking is a full-body cardio-muscular exercise that engages the arms, back, stomach, and legs. This combination promotes circulation, correct breathing, burns more calories than walking alone and develops total body coordination. The activity itself is very low impact, more than aerobics, dance or even walking. Nordic Walking teaches lower-upper body coordination, posture, form, structure and good biomechanics; in a dynamic way that is applicable to a healthy lifestyle.
Nordic walking is a year-round activity. Don’t be fooled, just because anyone can do it, it does not mean that it has little exercise value. The activity is the primary dry-land training method for elite competitive skiers - it is a serious exercise.
What is the history of Nordic Walking?
Nordic Walking was developed and refined by competitive cross-country skiers over hundreds of years. Every elite skier would have reached a high-level of proficiency in Nordic Skiing through years of training in the off-season. The teaching methods and technique is very well established, and has evolved in the last 25 years to included skating techniques. Nordic walking has been, and continues to be, taught by every cross-country ski coach and instructor as an essential part of dry-land training. Nordic walking technique standards have long been established under National Skiing Sports Governing bodies such as: FIS/IOC, Cross-Country Canada and the US Ski Association.
Very recently, the benefits of Nordic Skiing have been promoted to the masses by ski pole manufactures and new Nordic Walking Associations.
Why is it becoming so popular?
Over the years, Jogging, Aerobics, Spinning, Yoga, Palates, and Ball classes have motivated segments of the population to participate in healthy activities, by offering something new and invigorating. Similarly, Nordic Walking is a re-branding of cross-country ski training; known for high level of cardio-muscular conditioning, with all the benefits of skiing on snow, but without the learning curve. It is simple, easy, inexpensive, healthy and safe. In this one activity, you can combine many of the benefits of: jogging or aerobics (without the impact), the core body conditioning of palates and ball, while using more muscles then you would for just spinning.
What are the benefits of Nordic Walking over plain old walking or running?
Although, many of us run, bike, or hike during the summer months, skiing can benefit from specific dry-land training exercises such as Nordic Walking. It is possible to get a significantly better workout then from walking alone, and the movement is far less injurious then running because it is smooth and low-impact. Nordic walking is also a bridge between walking and running. Approaching running directly can be tough. Nordic walking allows you to loose weight, develop stamina, tone the upper body, exercise your joints to the point where it is safe to take up running. Unlike many fitness fads, Nordic Walking is practical. It is directly applicable for Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and trekking or hiking.
Is it just for competitive Skiers or can everyone do it?
The interesting thing about Nordic walking is that, a more advanced application of technique can be actually slower, than more rudimentary movements. Therefore, beginners can easily keep the same pace as experts.
Do I need specialized equipment for Nordic Walking?
Specialized poles are ideally suited for entry-level Nordic walking. However, the truth is that any set of poles will do. In fact, normal cheap ski poles are better for advanced techniques. Poles should reach just above your waist for walking and to your underarms for ski striding or bounding.
What are basic techniques for Nordic Walking?
Nordic walking starts, surprisingly, by walking with poles. Let them sway by your side but don’t use them initially. Get the feel for the swing weight and coordination. The step in the progression will involve lightly planting the poles with the tips at you feet, refraining from applying power initially. The idea is for the legs to do all the work until you can achieve some degree of coordination. When you are ready, start to exaggerate, or lengthen, your stride while applying more force onto the poles. Use more of your body weight, back, shoulders, stomach and arms to drive propulsion through the poles. You can moderate the right blend of leg and arm effort.
The next stage is ski-striding. The leg-stride lengthens and the effort is shared more equally by the arms. The movement approaches the biomechanics used in diagonal stride in snow-skiing. The key distinction between Nordic walking and ski-striding is that in striding; only one foot is touching the ground at a time. The arms achieve a full reach and extension. Striding is also more vigorous. Ski Bounding resembles up-hill diagonal stride and over-emphasizes the push phases.
Ski-Skating can be simulated with Nordic walking, striding and bounding. You can closely replicate the offset technique on steep up-hills as well as diagonal-skate. Do ski-walking and striding correctly, and you will be able to ski-skate any hill, come winter!
The coordinating of effective pole-planting for slalom can be practiced on down-hills, as can the Telemark transition for steep descents. Downhill work with poles, will help with tight turns (hop Christies) and will create an excellent plyometric exercise.
Can I use Nordic Walking to train effectively for Cross- Country Skiing?
“If you can Nordic walk, you can Nordic ski.”
Nordic walking, ski striding and bounding deliver a high-dynamic-range of exercise. It is absolutely possible to move from resting heart rates to maximum V02 using Nordic Walking. Cross-country skiers are some of the most conditioned athletes on Earth, and they use these dry-land exercises religiously. If you can ski walk up a steep hill correctly, then you can ski up the same hill.
Should I warm up first before Nordic Walking?
Yes. Although Nordic walking is very gentle on the body, it is a new exercise for many people, and it is wise to stretch through a full range of motion before starting out. The poles also create a number of very effective stretches.
How do I learn Nordic Walking? Are there organized groups or lessons?
You can grab a pair of $10 poles and go walking. Chances are that you will achieve some proficiency in Nordic walking - in time. We suggest that you have someone, who knows what they are doing, help choose poles for your needs, and have them show you the basics. There are a number of instructors and ski shops that can help you on your way. Take a lesson. For recreational Nordic walking, this would suffice. Now it is up to you, to get outdoors.
If you are planning to use Nordic walking or ski striding in serious training for Nordic Skiing, snow shoeing or trekking, then we suggest that you hook-up with a cross-country ski club, an experienced ski coach, instructor or professionally certified Nordic skier. We run clinics and certify Nordic Walking/Skiing Instructors.
We organize a Nordic Walking group training session/clinic every Tuesday night at 6:30 at Parking Lot 8, in Chelsea, Quebec, Canada under the Natural Fitness Program. Free of charge. The sessions run through October and November. Check out www.nordicwalking.bz for details.
What can I do if I am interested in learning more?
David McMahon & Lise Meloche
Clean Oxygen Fed Sport Cinematography