Thanks to some of my recent clinic participants I have become intrigued by how Nordic Walking would measurably benefit those who struggle with balance and stability. Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis are both diseases which come to mind. In some of my recent research I came across Bill Trewin who tells his story better than I could... so here it is.
Bill Trewin, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 49 now 55
"I have Parkinson's...........it doesn't have me"
April 19th 2009
NW came into my life about five years ago because of two wonderful friends who urged me to attend a workshop. I stopped running when I felt it was no longer safe for me. It wasn’t easy to give it up, however after that first workshop I realized that there was an alternative activity for me that could be just as rewarding. With fifteen ½ marathons (13 miles or 21K) and one full marathon completed, I know it is a wonderful and satisfying sport.
NW involves walking with poles similar to cross country ski poles but different in style and design. The most noticeable feature is that they have removable small boot- like rubber tips to use when walking on pavement or other hard surfaces. There are various figures on how much overall better workout you get from NW as compared to regular walking. I’ve heard as high as 40% and as low as 20%. I’ll leave that to the experts but my experience is you get out what you put in.
The technique is different as well. It should be taught by someone qualified and who also understands we are not all built the same. Some people require flexibility for a variety of reasons. For example a person with arthritis may have an issue with range of motion in their arms; a person with MS might have difficulty with their legs. This does not mean that they should not NW.......as long as their doctor says it’s alright and they have the desire, the benefits can be positive.
Nordic Walking has done the following for me:
- It gets me outdoors into the fresh air.
- A hobby of mine is taking waterfalls pictures and the NW poles make it happen.
- Improves my posture, most notably my head and shoulders are close to upright.
- It allows my weak side (right) to become more engaged by improving my leg stride and more arm movement.
- Music plays a critical role in the intensity of the walk. I choose songs at approximately 138 beats per minute for training walks and the day of the event. At times during extended/intense walks my right arm will swing better.
- As I cross the finish line I get that runners high I used to experience.
- For a period of time after an event the tremors and rigidity are improved.
There are many sites on the internet about NW. My blog is just one small bit of information that’s out there. http://nordicwalkingmaritimecanada.blogspot.com/
What have your experiences been using Nordic Poles for balance and stability? What effects have you enjoyed such as lengthened stride, increased your speed, better posture or simply just feeling more confident?