Department of Misinformation, XIV

In a post titled, “How to Measure Nordic Walking Sticks,” an eHow.com contributing writer identified as BStefano, put a whole lot of inaccuracies into one short paragraph. The italics in the following are mine to emphasize the most egregious misinformation: “Nordic walking sticks, also called trekking poles, were originally created for skiers who wanted to continue training in the warm months. Now adopted by walkers, the poles can turn an ordinary hike into a full-fledged, total-body workout. By some estimates, Nordic poles can boost calorie burn by as much as 40 percent over regular walking. When measured to the correct height and used properly, Nordic trekking poles also help walkers maintain good posture while walking, keep their balance on uneven or slick surfaces, take pressure off the hips and knees, and tighten and tone the upper body.”

First, we know that Nordic Walking sticks (aka, poles) are different from trekking poles in several significant ways. Bstefano evidently doesn’t. Second,we know that not skiers in general but Scandinavian cross-country racers began using poles for summer training, and this evolved into Nordic Walking. Third, BStefano seems to be confusing what we customarily think of as “hiking” with “walking” as we undertand it. Finally, “Nordic trekking poles” repeats the false premise with which this post was begun.

After that intro come three “Tips and Warnings.” One is “If you typically walk on a variety of hard and soft surfaces, flat surfaces and inclines, consider buying adjustable walking poles. These will allow you to shorten the length for uphill hikes or lengthen for downhill walking.” We all know that both adjustable and one-piece Nordic Walking poles all come with removable rubber paws or booties that slip over the metal tips to accommodate hard and soft surfaces. Nordic Walkers might want to adjust the pole length for long consistent uphills and downhills on steep terrain, as hikers using trekking poles often do.

Finally, the writer suggests, “Running with Nordic walking poles is not recommended, as it can result in muscle strains, tendon injuries and trip hazards.” This will come as a surprise to runners who do use poles, beginning with those original cross-country racers who ran hills with poles all the time and continuing to this day. In fact, running with Nordic Walking poles has a name: hill bounding.

One thought on “Department of Misinformation, XIV”

  1. Good Job Claire – thanks for keeping an eye out for articles about Nordic Walking that are often written by individuals that may not have done much Nordic Walking and most likely never taught Nordic Walking Lessons.

    I won't comment here about trekking poles marketed as Nordic Walking Poles, but I will comment on the author's suggestion about 110cm poles for someone 5' 5" and the goofy recommendation about NOT running with poles (Nordic Running).

    Pole Length: the 90-degree bend in the elbow when standing still and standing tall is a good thing (forearm parallel to the ground). BEWARE of size charts that magically pick pole length for someone by multiplying an individual's height by .68 (some charts say to use .7)! After hosting hundreds of Nordic Walking classes and personally strapping Nordic Walking Poles on thousands of Americans, I have NEVER come across a person 5' 5" that would benefit from 110cm poles. Not all pole manufactures measure their poles the same. For example, EXEL Nordic Walking Poles are a couple centimeters longer than SWIX Nordic Walking Poles. And the cheap twist-lock and flip-lock poles from China have very inconsistent size markings. We received pole samples last year from China and the sizing of 120cm poles varied by as much as 2 inches (5cm)?

    Regarding the goofy recommendation to NOT run with poles: Nordic Running is an awesome way to turbo charge the typical Nordic Walking Campaign. Nordic Running should not be attempted until an individual is comfortable Nordic Walking at a variety of intensity levels. I personally prefer Nordic Running uphills, but currently it is deer season so we are doing most of our Nordic Walking and Nordic Running on the local running track's infield.

    And when it comes to Nordic Running, I recommend one-piece poles that are sized correctly – lighter, less vibration and no issues with the poles gradually getting shorter due to the repeated pounding.

    Here is a link to more info about Nordic Running: http://community.mynorth.com/profiles/blog/show?id=2345865%3ABlogPost%3A41705

    As with any new fitness activity it is ALWAYS recommended that you consult with your doctor first.

    Walking and running with poles is the best!

    Keep up the good work Claire!

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