The benefits of Nordic walking for runners

In the last few years Nordic walking has rapidly increased in popularity as a fitness sport in Europe. It is a cross training method derived from the summer training technique of cross country skiers. Elite skiers regularly show very high VO2max values in their fitness tests.  The highest ever recorded for both men and women are in fact for cross country skiers.

Nordic walking is increasingly being seen as a great cross-training choice for runners and here’s why:

  • Reduces your chance of injury
  • Trains your core muscles and
  • Helps maintain your cardio fitness if you are recovering from an injury

Here’s how

Reduces your chance of injury

The use of the poles shares the loading between your upper and lower extremities and lowers the loading on injury prone sites.

A recent study has shown that injury-relevant variables such as pronation velocities and loading rates are much lower compared with running at the same speed. Nordic walking has a 36% lower loading rate and 59% lower pronation velocities compared to running.

Nordic walking is therefore a great training option for runners recovering from injury or looking for cross-training activities that avoid overuse injuries in the lower extremities.

Trains your core muscles

Nordic walking uses 90% of your skeletal muscles including the major and minor muscles groups of the upper and lower extremities. The movement critically incorporates your key core muscles - the abdominals, latissimus dorsi and the external obliques.

Helps you maintain your cardio respiratory fitness

The intensity of Nordic walking can be geared towards specific training needs and any of the  heart rate zones. Experienced Nordic walkers can reach moving at rates of up to 10 kph which, with the incorporation of the upper body use, will push you into the same heart rate zone as running but without the impact on your joints. Perfect for cross-training or injury recovery.

Nordic walking is the smart way to cross train

You can fit it into your running training programme with a couple of Nordic walking sessions a week.  Choose from a slow, steady Nordic walk at a light to moderate intensity for an endurance workout  or push it harder into a shorter higher intensity workout. You can also switch where you put the effort between the upper and lower body depending on your reasons for cross-training.

It looks easy in the photos but to be honest you only get the benefits if you adopt the correct technique.

Hook up with an instructor and in a few lessons you’ll be bounding along the trails.

Written by: Lisa Drewe on 15 Oct 2015, 11:53 AM

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