My Bad Back

After moving a heavy machine from the back of the company car I damaged my back. It doesn’t seem to be too serious, but it’s taking a while to fix. This has been driving me crazy, as sitting is painful, twisting is painful, carrying even light loads is painful…. brilliant. I’ve got pain killers which help – and the Doc’s advice is a mix of rest and gentle exercise (yay for painkillers!). Sleeping is a nightmare, as I can’t get comfortable, and if I roll in the night I end up waking up. Gah!!!!

Even worse is I can’t carry on my running programme or even shoot – I’ve already missed a shooting competition.

Luckily I stumbled on some information about Nordic Walking. This is like cross country skiing, but without the skis or snow….

It keeps the body in a more stable position whilst walking, and burns around 30% more calories than normal walking. With the new trainers that correct my foot fall and the Nordic Poles, I have found I can take a reasonable walk without causing any more back pain – which actually helps keep me active and helps with my back recovery!

Normal walking caused me discomfort – but this has almost been eliminated when I use the poles to walk. The painkillers still allowed me to feel what was happening around my lower back, but reduced the pain itself. This is how I found that the poles helped reduce the strain on my back. The main trouble now is getting up and sitting/laying back down again – but once I get up on my poles I feel a darn site better. Hmmm… that means I can either be horizontal or walking with poles… I’m having soooooo much fun at the moment.

Any way…. here’s a bit about the Nordic walking, and the advantages of it. The Doctor had said I should walk around, so I took some painkillers and set of to do 2km without the poles, and then another 2km with the poles.

This is a comparison test over the same route for 2km. The pace I set was simply a comfortable pace to walk at in both straight walking and Nordic Walking. Due to the extra push from the poles, the comfortable pace was a little higher for the Nordic Walking.

After the tests I felt more exercised from the Nordic walk, but I also felt like I could go on for further than just plain walking, due to the distribution of the effort throughout my whole body – as the poles give your arms and chest exercise whilst they help share the load on your back, knees and legs.

If you have a long hike to go on, then I’d say get some pole practice in, as it will help you sustain yourself.

Anyway…. The top chart in the following cases show:- Heart rate, speeds, kcal burn etc… The second chart shows the time my heart rate stayed in the specific training zones.
(More on the zones at the bottom of this post!)

You’ll notice that the use of poles raises the heart rate and gives almost 30% more kcal burn for the same distance as straight walking.





These zones relate to the effect the heart rate has on your body – the percentage is calculated from my maximum and resting rates – so the actual BPM that I have in these zones will be different to anyone else – BUT it is the percentage of a persons max heart rate that effects the zone range, and not the numerical BPM itself.

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6 responses to “My Bad Back

  • Pete Edwards - The Ski Walking Guy

    GREAT article about Nordic Walking!

    The benefits of walking with poles sounds almost too good to be true. How can poles radically help individuals with knee, hip, back and/or balance issues find comfort and freedom just by walking around with the correct length poles?

    Perfect length poles help us to automatically walk with a super straight back – better walking posture is biomechanically a good thing. This improved walking posture when combined with the unique 4-Wheel-Drive type action of walking with poles radically reduces the stress to the shins, knees, hips and back. Nordic Walking is low impact and yet provides a highly effective workout – burning more calories and working more muscle groups than regular walking.

    It is really just good physics, not a miracle. The improved walking posture and biomechanics really help many individuals with rods in their backs, scoliosis, osteoporosis, bad knees/new knees, bad hips/new hips and/or balance issues (MS, Parkinson’s, Neuropathy, Post Polio and other balance/stability challenges).

    I coach a combination of runners, skiers and Nordic Walkers everyday. My runners and skiers use Nordic Walking in the cross training and whenever they have shin splints or runners knee. In my Nordic Walking Classes (private and group) I hear daily from individuals that they have had bad experience with their twist-lock/one-size supposedly fits all poles and find that our durable one-piece Nordic Walking Poles are safer, lighter and much more user-friendly than their cheap twist-locking adjustable length/telescopic/collapsible poles. Quality one-piece poles that are sized correctly as much more stable. One-piece poles are tricky to fit, but if a qualified instructor or retailer should carry at least nine different lengths and have the ability to “custom” fit. A Perfect Length Guarantee should also be clearly stated.

    Walking with poles is the best!

  • rb73

    Thanks for the comment – When I get some cash I’ll be looking at some proper coaching so I can get the best from my poles – but until then I have a DVD on the way and about 20 minutes of basic instruction from the guy who set me up with the poles. Top guy.

    I did look at getting fixed length poles, as there are many problems with cheaper telescope poles.

    I talked to some Nordic walkers (one instructor) and found that single adjuster poles (rather than a pole that can shrink down in three or four parts) are now as good as fixed length poles. They need to be good poles though – no doubt about it.

    As I have just started I didn’t want to spend too much cash on what might turn out to be something I wouldn’t keep up. These SILVA poles (only one adjustment part – and properly gripped for Nordic walking) were recommended.

    Being in engineering I’ve looked at several telescope mechanisms, and yes – generally the CHEAP ones are bad news, but the Silva locking is so sturdy it can take my full weight (yes….I had to try!!!).

    When I replace them though, I may well go for one piece carbons – although the ability to shorten the poles to go in a back pack or under a push chair is something I’d miss.

    I’m a definite convert to NW – and will use it on my rest days between running (once my back is better) – Until then, I’ll use the poles when ever I go out – and as I get better, the percentage kcal burn will also increase as I master the technique.

    On a recent walk over 5km with poles, I burnt more kcal than I did on an 8.5km walk without. It’s not far off of the kcals you burn running – yet you can go on for much longer – so have the ability to burn more!!!

  • Pete Edwards - The Ski Walking Guy

    I am not familiar with SILVA Nordic Walking Poles, but I am always researching improvements.

    My findings show that regardless of price, twist-locking adjustable length poles, are NOT as sturdy and dependable as one-piece poles sized correctly. A sturdy healthy guy like may not experience unexpected pole collapse, but daily I either meet individuals in my classes, or chat with them over the phone or receive emails from individuals that have experienced problems with their twist-lock poles – most problems reported by seniors and women, but occasionally rugged guys report problems too.

    One lady super-glued her $140 titanium poles prior to one of my Nordic Walking Classes because she couldn’t get them to hold their position. A few days ago a lady called us with problems right out of the box with her new telescoping collapsible poles.

    It is TRUE though that walking with poles really does help to radically reduce the stress to the shins, knees, hips and back.

    Keep up the good work and have FUN Nordic Walking!

    The American Nordic Walking System and http://WWW.SKIWALKING.COM Nordic Walking Poles

  • rb73

    I can certainly see why some seniors and women might have a problem – the lock is only as good as the twist. Proper maintenance is also needed – and a little knowledge is needed – or support from the supplier. That lady who glued her poles sounds like she needed to split the two parts and tighten the expander inside so it would clamp properly. A case of no support from the supplier and/or a lack of knowledge on how to maintain the poles.

    No moving parts will generally be best though on cheaper poles, for structural strength. Although for practicality, if you really need telescopic poles – go for good ones and make sure they are TIGHT and well maintained!!!!

    Telescopic are useful to have around, as that way I can set them up for friends to give it a go!!!

    Got to spread the word!!!

  • Tortoise and Hare saves the day with LEKI « Sometimespace

    […] at the moment. Nordic Walking is something that the Physiotherapist and GP have said I should do (See here – earlier Back Injury blog), but with the wet leaves and foot design of my first set of Nordic poles I didn’t want to […]

  • health care » Blog Archive » Short Hiatus for this Blog — Probably

    […] about how Nordic Walking t0 help his injured and aching back. He simply called his post”My Bad Back“: “After moving a heavy machine from the back of the company car I damaged myback. It […]

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