Choosing Nordic Walking poles
There are 4 key types of Nordic walking 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
Nordic Walking UK on 0333 1234540
What type of footwear do I need?
Nordic Walking shoes 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 Nordic walking technique because they are generally heavier and less flexible than the latest walking shoe styles. By contrast, running shoes are also not usually designed to suit the Nordic walking gait which requires the foot to be in contact with the ground for longer, a more centred heel strike and a much more pronounced push from the toe.
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.
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 Nordic walking technique involves striking the ground with the hell 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 NWUK
- 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!