STYLES AND TECHNIQUES OF NORDIC WALKING
Nordic walking in Asturias is still a minority activity, even in Spain. In other latitudes, mainly in Nordic countries and Central Europe, it is more common.
But maybe sometimes you wonder if everything that is “walking with poles” is “Nordic walking”. Or if there are different styles or techniques of Nordic walking. Or if you just watch a couple of videos and you’re good to go.
You may also think that Nordic walking is something that is practised in flat parks, or along the promenade of your town or city, and that’s it.
However, I see that people who come to classes, both for beginners and for training, say to me: “yes, I see people walking with poles, but they don’t do it like we do it here”.
And here comes the question:
ARE THERE DIFFERENT STYLES OF NORDIC WALKING?
Yes, there are. Although Nordic walking as such emerged yesterday afternoon, it already has several schools and techniques.
It was created in 1997 by a Finnish brand of poles (Exel) and a researcher (Marko Kantaneva). Naturally, they did not come out of nowhere. Ski touring (the origin of Nordic walking) is a tradition in Finland, and walking with poles has been practised since the 30s of the 20th century, but without a defined technique.
So here we go. Since then, different techniques have emerged, mainly from Europe and the United States. To simplify, we can speak of the following techniques:
Fittrek. It arises by mixing concepts of Nordic walking, fitness and trekking. It has multiple sub-techniques, which seek to adapt Nordic walking to different degrees of effort and terrain.
Exestrider. We could say that it is a proto-model of Nordic walking, as it was born before Nordic Walking itself. In fact, it is a technique that does not use the usual Nordic walking poles, but a kind of adapted trekking poles, with a larger handle.
Inwa. It is the first approved technique related to Nordic walking.
Original. It arose as a split from Inwa, when its promoter Marko Kantaneva broke away from that school and formed his own.
Alfa 247. It arises in Germany-Switzerland, with the support of the German University of Mainz on biomechanics applied to Nordic walking.
Ok, and you will say, what are the differences? Well, except for the Exestrider technique, which uses different poles and therefore implies a different use of the poles, the rest of the techniques have subtle differences for those who do not know Nordic Walking, but important from the point of view of the exercise performed.
Basically, the differences are related to the height of the pole, the way of gripping and releasing it, the amplitude in the step, the fact of bending or not the arm, as well as the starting position when placing the pole. There are also differences in whether or not the trunk is twisted.
These seem like subtle differences, I know.
In our case, we are instructors of the Fittrek and Alfa 247 techniques. In some classes we have done contrasting exercises, changing the way we use the poles. And I can assure you that you can feel how the work of the body and muscles is different in one technique or the other.
WHICH TECHNIQUE IS BETTER?
Difficult question. We could talk about which technique squeezes more our exercise options, or which technique works better our biomechanics. But the important thing is which technique suits you best.
In our case, we teach both techniques, Fittrek and Alfa, but above all we have a maxim: The important thing is not to adapt the person to the activity, but the activity to the person.
Here are the links to the websites of the different schools, in case you are curious. And if you want to know more about the different techniques, post it in comments, and we will prepare another article on the subject.
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