Nordic Walking as an Olympic Sport
September 16, 2016 | By Lisa Workman
This past summer I hosted a charity Urban Poling session. During our walk, we couldn’t help ourselves from talking about the Olympics. It was mid-August and the 2016 Rio Olympics was in full swing. As our conversation shifted to all the different types of sports at the Games, one participant questioned, “What if nordic walking was an Olympic sport?”
Frankly, I was taken aback as I’d never considered Nordic walking to be an option. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Nordic walking is a combination many Olympic sports. The arm strength and movement is similar to that of a javelin thrower. The pace can be that of a race walker since the forward propulsion with each plant of the pole increases your pace. And when all put together, Urban Poling can looking like the beauty of a kayak stroke.
Now, with the Rio 2016 Olympics completed and the current happenings of the 2016
Paralympics, what can we learn from Olympians that can accelerate us into the Fall?
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
One only betters themselves with lots of practice. Technique is king in sport but also in Urban
Poling. Remember these key points in your technique:
• Ensure poles are placed behind your body approximately at a 45 degree angle
from the ground;
• Remember to swing the arm as if it were a pendulum at the shoulder; minimize
the bend in the elbow joint;
• Keep the hand grip light and use the pole’s substantial ergonomic handle to
apply force to the ground;
• Continue to coordinate the natural movement of walking – alternating hand and
It is one thing to know the technique, it is another to effectively use it with each walk. The only
way to get better is to practice!
2. Being There is Just as Important as Wining Gold
Some days we have trouble even making it out with our poles. The key is that you made an
effort and came to the “game” instead of choosing to sit on the side lines. We all have days and
even weeks that are hard to fit in any form of movement. Ten minutes with your Urban Poles will
bring so much to your day even if you don’t complete your regular 60 minute jaunt.
3. Pride and Teamwork
Do you stand tall with your poles? I sure do! Be proud to walk with the best poles this country
has to offer, Urban Poles! As athletes wear the maple leaf with pride, walk with you head high
and show off your Urban Poles. Maybe even share your excitement of using Urban Poles with
your friends, family and neighbours. Invite them to join your nordic walking team! As you know, it
is one of the best ways to walk your way to better health (and sport performance!)
As the leaves begin to turn and the cooler air rolls in, keep in mind the amazing athletes
representing Canada at the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. Dedicate your time and training so
that you too can be a medalist! Will you be a gold medalist this Fall?
Lisa A. Workman
M.A., B.P.E., CSEP-CEP, EIMC Level 2, AFLCA Trainer, Urban Poling Instructor
Lisa WorkmanM.A., B.P.E., CSEP-CEP, EIMC Level 2, AFLCA Trainer, Urban Poling Instructor. Lisa has been active in the exercise profession for over 15 years as a certified exercise physiologist, fitness centre manager, fitness writer and presenter, and group exercise instructor. She is the creator of The Why I Move Project and whyimove.com. In 2015, Lisa was named Life Fitness’s Global Personal Trainer to Watch Top Ten Finalist and was the sole Canadian representation at the international event. Lisa was the 2012 recipient of the Alberta Certified Exercise Physiologist Recognition Award and the 2010-2011 recipient of the University of Alberta’s Campus Recreation Building Block Award. She sits on the editorial advisory board for the Alberta Centre for Active Living WellSpring publication, the Alberta Centre for Active Living Research Advisory Committee and the Nourish Move Thrive Advisory Group.
When walking on snow covered surfaces, remove the rubber tips to expose the carbide tip which will provide better traction. Add snow baskets to prevent the poles from sinking deep into the snow.
– Mandy Shintani, OT