- Do you abhor abdominal exercise but yearn for a stronger core?
- Want to be in nature, but worry about walking on uneven trails?
- Are you trying to lose weight?
- Do you want a stronger upper body?
All these things are within reach if you grab two little walking poles!
: Walking poles keep you upright and improve posture. Better posture improves breathing*. Better posture also increases confidence. And it makes you seem younger. If you see a silhouette of a person, you often determine their age by their posture**. Poles help you look and feel younger.
Why look like this...
...when you could look like this?
Some people have told us they don't want to become dependent on poles - fearing that their balance might get worse if they rely on poles to keep them upright. To that we say - fake news!
Here's the real story
: One of the most important aspects of good balance is having a strong core. Have you ever slipped on the ice and immediately felt your abdominal muscles tighten? Your abs are vital for maintaining and regaining balance, so as you lose balance, they contract. Using poles while walking engages core muscles, keeping them strong and responsive for when you need them. That way, you can recover from a little slip and stay upright even without poles, thanks to your stronger core.
Core muscles contribute to your overall stability and balance in a few different ways. One way is by keeping your center of gravity stable. The body's center of gravity is located deep and just below the navel. Center of gravity shifts with every movement, but always stays within the core. Poles promote even load distribution and improve mechanics of the spine as you move. Core strength also improves posture, which keeps your center of mass over your base of support - basic physics for balance.
Core strength also helps keep all your movements more fluid. Think of the core as a muscular "corset," working as a unit to stabilize the spine. It is the foundation of all limb movement. Using the poles to increase core stability makes movement of the hips, knees, and ankles more fluid and efficient, and thus they are able to catch you when you get out of balance. The end result is better balance and stability with or without your poles.
It gets better...
Adding poles to a walk will increase energy consumption by over 20%, increase calories burned by 19%, and increase heart rate by 4-8%***. With poles, you more than double the number of voluntary skeletal muscles activated.
That's the upper body and core activation that happen with each pole plant. You've just changed a lower body exercise into a whole body exercise!
Therapists at ALTA regularly fit patients with poles and train them on technique. Once you get the hang of it, you will wonder why you waited so long.
**Watson and McDonncha, 2000
***Church TS, Earnest CP, Morss GM. L. Field testing of physiological responses associated with Nordic Walking. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2002 Sep;73(3):296-300.