Category Archives: Blog

Trying to Revive This Blog

Two reasons for long cyber-silence on this blog

NordicWalkingI haven’t posted anything on this blog for months and months. Reason #1:  I had been suffering from excruciating and ever worsening pain from back issues for months, and sitting at the computer made it worse. Reason #2: Nordic Walking appears stuck, still with virtually no cooperation or joint promotion among training organizations or pole-makers to grow the sport. It remains stuck with small isolated islands of activity and local growth scattered in the US and most of the promoters jealously guarding their small pieces of Nordic Walking turf.

Surgery Story

Throughout my ever-increasing pain (until the last couple of weeks before my January 29 surgery), I still managed to Nordic Walk almost every day, do a TV program called “Classical Stretch” and take a weekly Pilates class. Because I remained relatively fit till the end, my surgeon agreed to try minimally invasive micro-decompression surgery rather than a fusion. Walking was the recommended rehab activity, and less than 24 hours after the outpatient procedure, I went on a 2/3-mile walk around nearby park. From the next day on, I have walked between 2 and 3½ miles every day, and I have been uncharacteristically conscientious about physical therapy. I have been pain-free since the day after surgery, and now, of course, I wonder why I did so much for so long to avoid surgery. I hope that in some way, by reviving this blog, I can encourage other people to Nordic Walk to get in shape, get in better shape, lose a few pounds and get outdoors in the fresh air.

Attrition in the Nordic Walking Community

A number of Nordic Walking pole manufacturers that entered the American market have withdrawn or stopped producing specialty products entirely, and some people who were active no longer are so. It came as a sad surprise when I learned that Suzanne Nottingham, a committed and energetic fitness pro and author of a technique book called Nordic Walking for Total Fitness, had thrown in the towel and folded her Nordic Walk Now program. Suzanne and I were on the same page about the necessity for all players to work together if fitness walking with poles is ever to grow in this country. Or maybe all it would take is for Michelle Obama to beging using poles for a walking workout.

I’m again trying my part. Please leave comments to my upcoming posts, recommend this blog as a resource and keep on walking.

 

Department of Misinformation, XX

No, not double-X rated, but the 20th weird online “explanation” of Nordic Walking  I”ve found. A website called Sooper Articles contains an eyebrow-raising gem called “what is Nordic Walking” by one Mett Robinson. I hope that the “explanation” is the result of mistranslation, not daunting misinformation on the part of the author.

It [Nordic Walking] is considered an aerobic activity that brings great benefits to the  physical state of the practitioners, with a low sense of tiredness. This sport  can be practiced outdoors, alone or in company, which will confer a fun feature.  There are also various ways to practice: in the water, skates or the most common  place is the nature trails.

The techniques are basically accompany the push up and slide, with a hand  motion.

The most basic are:

* Keep your shoulders relaxed.

* Do not push too hard and keep the rods in a diagonal position.

* The stick should be pushed behind the pelvis.

* After the push rod should be taken to fast forward and when end of the  stick is pushed to open the palm of your hand.

* The foot does come forward while the opposite hand and must fully support  the heel to the toes.

 

 

 

Walking Whiz Wendy’s “No Buy List”

About.com’s walking columnist suggests what not to buy — but recommends poles

We have all heard about the government’s “no fly list.” Wendy Baumgartner, who writes About.com’s walking column, has compile what might be called a “no buy list” of items that she writes she cannot recommend. In fact, it is called “Walking Products I Don’t Recommend,” either because claims for it have not been supported by properly designed studies, because they may increase the risk of injury or strain if used by fitness walkers for 30 minutes or more. I am not sure why she selected 30 minutes, but still her advice is worth taking.

Here are the products that she does not recommend:

  • Toning shoes
  • Weighted shoes
  • Ankle weights
  • Arm weights
  • Magnets
  • Fat-burning supplements

She also writes (and I like this part): “Better Choice – Walking Poles: Fitness walking poles are a superior alternative to make you burn more calories per mile while working out your upper body and taking some of the strain off your knees, hips and ankles.
Choosing Fitness Walking Poles

 

147 Nordic Walkers in the Birkie Trek

Great Lakes Nordic Walkers reported that 147 Nordic Walkers participated in last weekend’s fourth annual BirkiTrail Run & e Trek in Wisconsin. The Trail run is a marathon, while the Trek is a half-marathon that welcomes Nordic Walkers. The organizers describe it thus: “The Birkie Trek is a “Nordic walking” event where use of poles is suggested. The Trek is a non-competitive, un-timed walk on the beautiful American Birkebeiner Trail. The Trail, used in the Winter for the American Birkebeiner Cross-Country Ski Marathon, is mowed, relatively smooth, but hilly and challenging.” The Birkie Trek remains on my bucket list, but this time, I was in Connecticut while it was going on. Below is an image from the Great Lakes Nordic Walkers blog.

 

WordPrss isn’t letting me embed links in my posts on this blog. The URL for the post is http://greatlakesnordicwalkers.com/2011/09/28/joy-is-147-walkers-with-poles-on-the-birkie-trail/ The Birkebeiner website is at http://www.birkie.com.

Livestrong Acknowledges Nordic Walking

Lance Amstrong’s foundation’s website & its curious Nordic Walking article

I admire Lance Armstrong, not just for winning seven consecutive Tours de France but for doing so as a cancer survivor and since then, for supporting individuals and organizations doing battle with cancer and working to find a cure. I was gratified to find an article about Nordic Walking on the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s Livestrong website, but again, puzzled at the content. Called “How to Measure Nordic Walking Sticks” by Marie Mulrooney (who might or might not be the Marie Mulroomey from Anchorage), it sounds very British. “Sticks” instead of poles, centimeters instead of inches and so on.

The article is fine as far as it goes, and as I wrote, I’m happy that so important an organization paid any heed at all to Nordic Walking, but it never addresses what one does with sticks/poles once the measuring is complete, and it is illustrated by a surprising photo from Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images.

The man in front is using poles, but the five people of various sizes who are following him are pole-free. What’s that all about?

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WordPress still won’t let me embed links to my posts on this blog, so here they are:

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: Foot Care After Walking

By Jennifer Bell

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, but it can take a toll on the feet. Joint pain and blisters can commonly occur, especially after long periods of walking. If you are planning to do a lot of walking or you often experience foot pain, there are some guidelines you can follow to ensure that your feet receive the rest and care they need after exercising.

Blister Care

Blisters are among the most common foot injuries. Many foot blisters occur on the back of the heel and are due to friction caused by
ill-fitting shoes or insufficient socks. The best way to care for a blister is to treat the area with antibiotic ointment and cover it with a bandage or moleskin. Avoid further friction to the area until the blister has healed.

Aching Feet

Walking isn’t as high-impact as some other forms of exercise, but spending a significant amount of time on your feet can often feel just the same as running a marathon. The joints of the feet can come under a lot of stress while walking, and this causes them to ache. To care for tired, aching feet, you may want to try soaking them in warm water and taking a mild pain medication like an Ibuprofen. Gently stretching the feet by rolling them over golf balls can also help you to relax. To minimize the likelihood that your
feet will continue to hurt, make sure to wear supportive shoes that provide appropriate arch support.

Plantar Fasciitis

Sometimes pain after walking indicates that you are experiencing something more than tired feet. One common ailment is plantar fasciitis. This is a heel injury that occurs when the foot gets overused and it is often felt in the area where the heel meets the arch of the foot. If you have plantar fasciitis, you may experience an ache or burn in your foot, and the pain often increases with activity. If you feel this pain after walking, apply ice, take acetaminophen or Ibuprofen, and rest up. Your doctor may want to do x-rays or
suggest orthopedic inserts for your shoes. Certain heel strengthening exercises can also be performed to increase muscle strength in the foot.

The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body. If your feet start to hurt, you should rest them. Rest and stretching are some of the most important elements in keeping your feet healthy, both before and after walking. Properly caring for your feet after walking or any form of exercise will ensure that you are able to stay healthy and perform your best.

This guest article was contributed by Jennifer Bell from Health Training Guide. Jennifer is a freelance  writer and mother of two based in Los Angeles. [She asks that you] check out her site to learn more about
dental assistant training and other exciting health careers.

My Q&A with Hiking Blogger

I few weeks ago, Jeanette Kozlowski contacted me to do a Q&A for HikingBoots.com on differences between hiking and Nordic Walking. Of course, I was please to do so. The website is actually a major online retailer of hiking boots, and Jeanette is the social media manager. If you were to go only to the home page, you’d have a hard time finding any content unrelated to selling, selling and SELLING boots. You’d have to go to the bottom of the page and click on “Hiking Boots Blog.” I’ll save you the trouble byt suggesting that you just here for a link to the Q&A that I did.

Walking Helps Combat Youth Diabetes

Walking is good, but Nordic Walking could be even better

On EmpowerHer.com, an Arizona-based website devoted to “improving health and changing lives,” contributor Sandhya Reddy’s “The Many Benefits of Walking” told of her young teen’s son and his choice of activities when confronted either with diabetes or prediabetes (it wasn’t clear to me). She wrote:

“A few years ago I was warned by my youngest son’s pediatrician about his triglycerides and cholesterol levels. I realized being a diabetic was not just my battle anymore. It is going to be a part of my family for years to come. I remember discussing various options of exercise and food options with 13-year-old that day. I also realized that besides Kaplan classes that summer, he hadn’t been out of the house much for any physical activities as both my husband and I worked.

“Of all the options he chose to walk, which surprised me. I was happy with his decision to walk with me to start off since if gave us time to spend together which encouraging each other to stay fit. Up until he went off to college we shared many things while walking in the park or sidewalks. It gave me an opportunity to get to know my son on a personal level.”

Hooray for mother and son. Like adult friends or couples who walk for health and pleasure, they conversed and bonded during their walks. Reddy goes on to explain that many non-walkers who begin walking are surprised that eventually walking is pleasurable. She also lists variations on the theme of walking, that “include bush walking, race walking, weight walking, hill walking, Nordic walking, hiking (also called rambling or tramping), treadmill, etc.”  She describes some of these in a few additional words, “Power walking and race walking are among the most popular kinds of walking. Power walking is for people who do not have time to work out but want to keep up with physical activity. Race walking is often for Olympic competitors. And using a treadmill is a popular activity for people who tend to stay indoors for any reason.”

I don’t know where Reddy lives, but I was a little surprised that she used the veddy English terms “rambling” and “tramping” or the Aussie phrase “bush wallking” as synonyms for “hiking.” Alas, I was not surprised that Nordic Walking again got short shrift, despite its unsurpassed accessibility and bonus benefits for health, fitness and weight loss without any potential downsides. The inclusion of Nordic Walking in this piece begins and ends with those two words. If walking helped both of them with their health issues, imagine what a boost a pair of poles in each of their hands might have given to their time and effort.

Door County Welcomes Snowshoers & Other Winter Visitors

Writer finds quiet sports that highlight the wintry months on Wisconsin peninsula  

That little orange spot on the map between Green Bay and the main body of Lake Michigan is the Door Peninsula.

Door County occupies a slender finger of land in the eastern Wisconsin, lying north/northeast of Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee and Green Bay, which is the Door County gateway community as well as home to the NFL’s Packers. The county, which is to say the peninsula, is a popular Midwestern warm-weather destination that is both rural and sporty. With a long Lake Michigan and Green Bay coastline, it’s splendid for sailing, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, fishing and enjoying the many beaches and the local fruit and other produce are fabulous too. Like so many summer places, Door County turns inward in winter, with the quiet sports of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing popular.

My friend Laurel Kallenbach has started writing about sustainable travel for a  the website of Greenwala,a loose collective dedicated to green living. She could have picked any number of tropical eco-tourism destinations, low-impact beach-bumming or a voluntourism project where visitors restore habitat, assist communities or do other good work. But for her inaugural column, she chose a cold-weather destination. Snowshoeing, a favorite activity of Nordic Walkers when there’s snow on the ground, is involved in two of her four recommendations in her piece, “4 Carbon-Neutral Ways to Enjoy Winter in Door County, Wisonsin.”

She suggests a horsedrawn sleighride through the vineyards and woods at the Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery, near Fish Creek. I’m all for helping wineries make it through the winter, so thumbs-up on that one. Snowshoeing at The Ridges Sanctuary, which also offers guided snowshoe walks in January.

In addition to 16 miles of groomed Nordic skiing trails with an additional 6 miles of ungroomed snowshoeing trails  through scenic and remote areas of Peninsula State Park. The park also offers 17 miles of separate snowmobile routes, but if that bothers you, better snowshoe elsewhere. Finally, she suggests candlelight cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or (if there isn’t a lot of snow) winter hiking at Door County’s state parks: Whitefish Dunes State Park: January 29; Peninsula State Park: February 5, and Newport State Park: February 12.  Terrific.

Winter in Door County, an online magazine, is an excellent resource for snowshoeing there.

Sorry for the Long Cyber-Silence

Trying to catch up with Nordic Walking News…

This evening, I received a personal E-mail from Ed “Walk Well!” Urbanski wondering why I haven’t posted in weeks. I’ve been deadline-pressed on other projects, and after a while, got so far behind on news and observations that one more day didn’t seem to matter. Days became weeks, and as Ed reminded me, weeks turned into more  than a month. I was embarrassed when he pointed that out to me.

Ironically, I’m overextended right about the time that the Nordic Walking eCommunity, established by David Downer in 2006, seems to be tapering off too.  From many, often vigorous posts in the past, there have been just eight in all of December, the most recent on the 10th. David is inviting subscribers to his free Nordic Walking News.

 In looking around the ‘Net to see what I’ve recently been missing, and I again visited Simply Nordic Walking, written and photographed by  Peter, British Nordic Walking instructor who leads an impressive number of Nordic Walkers in fair weather and foul. The lyrical images he shares on his blog should be inspirational to all who are trying to preach the Nordic Walking gospel.

Beyond that, here’s a brief sampling version of items that I would have posted if I’d been conscientious, with links to the sources:

  • Nordic Walking has been added to  the list of selected activities by the nation’s physical activity program the President’s Challenge,  developed by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Suzanne Nottingham, a leading proponent of Nordic Walking in the US and the owner of Nordic Walk Now, has been working on this for a long time. Click here for her recently published an article on the benefits of Nordic Walking in the official newsletter of the President’s Challenge, “Fitness Is Fun.” So congratulations and thanks, Suzanne, for so tirelessly seeing this through.
  • Malin Svensson, who heads Nordic Walking North America, has a short YouTube video featuring LEKI poles and Skechers Shape Up shoes. Click here to take a look.
  • Marek Zalewski. born in Poland and now based in Vienna, Virginia, is a certified instructor (Nordic Walking U.S.) and very impressively, has been keeping a Nordic Walking diary since May 16, 2005. As of a few days ago, he had logged  5,493 miles — and by now, he might have passed the 5,500-mile mark. That’s not his only step-by-step accomplishment. He hiked the Appalachian Trail back in 1973.
  • Nordic Walking can be an end unto itself or as part of a get-in-shape regimen for doing something else. I don’t know who writes a blog called Ski Season Fitness, but he or she recently posted “The Benefits of Nordic Walking” and “Walking to Fitness Using Nordic Walking Technique.”
  • What Are the Benefits of Nordic Walking?” is the rhetorical question title of a recent piece on the Livestrong Foundations site. Writer Carol Ochs, who covers medical and fitness issues, answers them.
  • eHow.com, which specializes in pithy summaries of how to do certain things, posted “Nordic Walking Advantages,” a wrap-up of benefits Nordic Walking proponents understand.
  • Upcoming snowshoe events in Minnesota & Wisconsin  (Jan. 22, Snowshoeing Nordic Walking Style; Feb. 5, Snowshoe Shuffle; Feb. 19, Book Across the Bay). Click here for details from Nordic Walk This Way.
  • The folks in a municipality called 100 Mile House in British Columbia’s Couth Cariboo region don’t “need no steenkin’ snowshoes” to get out with their poles. The local paper has an articlewith a wonderful photo of a group of locals Nordic Walking in the snow. About a dozen get out twice a week under the uspices of the local rec. It bears mentioning that the average high temperature in December is 27 degrees and the average low is under 10 degrees, Fahrenheit.
  • 50-Plus Fitness Walking, a British site written by Geoff and Yoko Lawrence, is a great resource and motivation for grabbing thos poles and getting out. On Zappos website in the UK,  they found three Inov-8 shoe models that claim to be designed for Nordic Walking. With a robust tread and Gore-Tex lining, they would seem well suited to winter walking. I haven’t had a chance to check whether they are available on this side of the pond, but if you do the research and have an answer, leave a comment to let everyone know.  
  • Elsewhere in the UK, in a place called Dare Valley, a Thursday course is beginning on December 22 . I found it on a blog called Mental Health Support. It’s a good reminder for anyone who says, “The holidays are driving me nuts!” or “If I don’t get outside, I’ll go crazy!” to take the poles and head out into the fresh air, no matter what the weather — and as a couple of the items I posted above indicate, winter should not be a deterrent.
  •  Because of counterseasonality to North America, Nordic Walking activties in Australia are ramping up now. Click herefor information about Nordic Academy Austalia and their training courses that run from February through April.