Choosing the right type of walking poles
The WALX Activator/Urban poles are strapless poles that are ideal for those looking to get maximum benefit and master pole walking quickly. As they do not have a strap on, it is not necessary to master full Nordic style technique in order to gain proplusion and a whole body workout. They are also very stable which makes them ideal for balance and to improve posture. They are suitable for all levels and as you progress, you can adapt technique in order to gain the same workout as strapped poles.
The poles come in two or 3 piece versions to make them easy to carry when not in use too.
If you want to explore Nordic Style pole walking you may wish to look at mastering the strapped poles too (ask your Instructor about further tuition)
If you decide to go for Nordic Walking Poles, The key things to consider are
There are 3 main types of NW poles
- A FIXED length pole is not adjustable and therefore the walker MUST be confident they have the right height and are not likely to develop and improve their technique substantially
- An EXTENDABLE pole is virtually a fixed pole but there is the option to extend to make it fit EXACTLY and be adjusted according to improvement or technique improvement. The adjustment is close to the handle which minimises vibration
- ADJUSTABLE poles are great for all levels as they provide full flexibility and are entirely suitable for all Nordic walkers
- TELESCOPIC poles fold down to fit in backpacks, suitcases etc - great for city use and travelling but as they are 3 part and therefore contain TWO adjustment points they will tend to vibrate slightly more, although with the top of the range carbon ones, this is minimal
The key things to consider when choosing Nordic Walking poles are:
- The straps - are they comfy and how easy is it to attach and un-attach them to the pole when you need to. (if they don’t attach at all they are NOT technically Nordic Walking poles)
- Pole composition - yes carbon is best but it costs more and other compounds are entirely suitable for the recreational Nordic Walker
- The paws (rubber feet) - are they suitably angled for the Nordic Walking technique? (If not they are not Nordic Walking poles) and are they easy to remove when on softer ground?
- The weight of the pole - the lighter the better if you are looking for top performance but all standard Nordic Walking poles are lightweight and simple to use
- The make - avoid cheaper brands and go for the established makes like Leki & Gabel - these companies actually manufacture ski poles too and have invested in the development of their products. Newcomers to the Nordic Walking market are usually copies made in the far East
- Travelling? - If you know you would like to take the poles abroad or even on the bus consider whether they break down
For sensible advice from the experts speak to the team at WALX/ Nordic Walking UK on 0333 1234540
What type of footwear do I need?
Shoes for pole and fitness walking need to be flexible soled, choose lightweight walking shoes or trainers that are ideally waterproof. Heavy leather walking boots can actually make it difficult to achieve good pole walking technique because they are generally heavier and less flexible than the latest walking shoe styles.
If you want to try speedhyking or are training for a challenge event where speed is the essence you may want to explore trail shoes which are lightweight but very grippy.
The first thing to consider is comfort. Different makes of shoes tend to suit those with different types of gait or foot type (wide, narrow, high arch etc.) and most people quickly find a brand that generally suits them.
All good outdoor stores will provide advice on the right shoes for you and do provide discounts for people who learn with WALX too.
The key features to look out for are:
- Flexibility in the forefoot - in order to allow you to push off from the toes correctly
- Adequate heel cushioning as good walking technique involves striking the ground with the heel first
- The shoe should not slip at the heel or rub when the foot rolls through the stride so always test first or use brands recommended by the WALX team
- Avoid footwear that is too high or tight around the ankle area as this can cause rubbing at the front when the toe is raised for the heel strike
- Look for a snug fit to avoid the foot slipping forward which can cause the toes to hit the toe box and become bruised
- A Relatively lightweight shoe is advisable to avoid leg fatigue
- Ideally select a waterproof shoe as there is nothing worse than wet feet on a long walk. ‘Goretex’ or similar fabrics are both breathable and waterproof so try to select these if possible or you will end up with dry but ‘sweaty’ feet!