Tag Archives: nordic poles

Nordic Poles – Let’s clear up a myth

You should only use one piece poles – Telescopic poles are not safe and not any good“…..

Well, this is the type of statement that falls into the same line of thought as:

I don’t fly – aeroplanes are not safe” or:

I’m not going to cross that bridge because very early bridges weren’t safe…

80 years ago you might have been right about flying – but things progress. Flying is the safest form of transportation available today – but certain Luddite thinkers still can’t get around the idea – or are scared. A lot of the time it is a lack of facts and knowledge about the subject that creates this attitude.

Things progress, technology improves…Modern telescopic poles made by reputable companies are not dangerous!

I have heard people say that telescopic poles are dangerous – and yet THEY STILL SELL THEM!!!!  I’m sorry, but if telescopic poles are so bad, then don’t sell them – otherwise you sound like a Hypocrite. May as well wear a Leopard skin coat with ivory buttons and say hunting is bad. It’s sales talk – preying on those that don’t have the knowledge or advice from people who really understand what is going on.

I will say that a cheap telescopic pole is not going to be as good as a cheap one piece pole – BUT that is the bottom end of the market. If you buy the proper equipment though, and it has been tested, then there is no reason to say that a telescopic pole is more dangerous. In fact, it is safer and better for you in several cases.

I’ve had no trouble with my lower end telescopic poles – but that’s because they are properly locked and well maintained. You have to use your common sense. If the adjuster isn’t locking, then it needs tightening internally (easy enough to do with a bit of common sense and a screwdriver – in most cases).

For different terrains and different speeds or walking styles, a Nordic Walker needs to have different length poles. If you want to do speed work, you need a longer pole – so some adjustment is required UNLESS you want to carry around several sets of poles.

LEKI are German manufacturers of ski poles and other equipment used by Olympic champions. They are also one of, if not the leading manufacturer of Nordic poles and have been in this line of work since the 1940’s. They are world leaders – and at the top of their range of poles are telescopic adjustable poles….. Why would they do that if they were dangerous in any way?

LEKI have their equipment stringently tested by TÜV* (See bottom of this post). These tests have shown that the telescopic poles are each individually rated to over 140kg loading – and have a lifetime guarantee…. Not something a company would give if the product was dangerous or prone to failure, is it?

Look at it from another point of view. A driving instructors car is not going to be a dangerous car that is illegal to use on the road – The instructor needs to set an example after all. Well, have a look at the poles that a very large majority of instructors use… Yes, they are telescopic poles – and are rated for very serious use.

The type of use is important when choosing a pole, as materials used in the poles are designed for specific uses. The LEKI Speed Pacer Vario for example is a class leading pole that can take whatever you throw at it – and once more, it is adjustable…. and incredibly light weight – Perfect for a Nordic Pole.

To make sure you get the best support for your poles, I cannot recommend enough the use of a store or shop that is supplied by the manufacturers main importer. Buying from an individual from eBay or through the second hand pages in a newspaper is not going to give you the customer service you require. In the UK, Ardblair Sport Importers (ASI) are the importer for LEKI (and other manufacturers). I buy my poles from  “Tortoise and Hare”, near Guildford – there will be more on them in future blogs – so make sure you check back, as readers of this site may find they’ll be getting some good deals.

So – to sum up – A cheap one piece pole will generally be better than a cheap telescopic pole – but when you use the reputed manufacturers who have been making ski and Nordic gear for decades and actually have their equipment rated by independent tests houses, then the difference between telescopic and fixed length is zero.

The type of pole you choose is down to what you need it for – so if you need pole that is only ever going to be used for one type of walking, and only you are going to use it – then yes, go for a one piece pole – it will generally be cheaper as it has no mechanism – But don’t buy a one piece pole because you think it is safer – A cheap one piece pole can just as dangerous as a cheap telescopic one.

*With over 50 years’ experience, TÜV Product Service is a leading international expert in providing testing, certification, qualification, training and consultancy services to a range of industries covering the Aerospace, Defence, Medical & Health, Radio & Telecoms, Rail, Trade, Electronics & Consumer sectors.


Spongebob Exercisepants

Call me crazy, but Spongebob is helping me keep fit, exercise my back and lose weight…

As you know, I have damaged a disc in my lower back. I can’t sit up, or even walk very well without something to keep me stable. Using Alex’s pushchair or my Nordic walking poles allows me to walk and gently exercise and rehabilitate my back .

The poles have proved to do much more for me as well – as mentioned in other blog posts. It burns 30% to 40% more kcal than running or jogging, as it uses the upper body as well – and it also raises the heart rate into a different sport zone without having to go as fast as you would running or jogging.

Because of the slower speed and stick aided stability, the body impact is greatly reduced – which benefits the back, legs…heck, any joints! Great for weight loss, improving fitness – and rehabilitation when you can’t run or jog…. or walk easily unaided.

Proper training is a must as with all sports (even simple jogging – if you do it wrong, you can screw yourself up)- but it isn’t expensive and not too time consuming. I initially had 10 to 15 minutes of coaching to make sure I knew what I was doing (and not damaging myself any further!). A fortnight later I had some follow up training to make sure I was still on track. I did this with Helen Wallace from the Alice Holt Forestry Commission (see my links on the lower of the left hand column).

One of the things that has oddly helped me get to grips with getting the most from this exercise is Spongebob Squarepants…

I have endured the theme tune so many times now, as Alex loves the show – and as such the tempo of the tune has stuck in my head! Where I  exercise and breath in over two strides and out over two strides, I now have Spongebob’s name – as sung at the pace of the song – going through my head as I exercise…. breath in over 2 strides “Sponge-bob” and out over two strides “Square-pants” …. I did say you could “call me crazy…”

Now this chant helps keep my heart rate in a set zone and keeps me walking comfortably. The actual speed of my foot fall doesn’t change, but the speed of the walk itself can, simply by increasing the stride, but keeping the same time beat going. It’s like a walking metronome… constant tick-tock-tick-tock sponge-bob-square-pants…..

Crazy…maybe, but thanks to Alex’s love of the TV show, my pole walks, my back and my overall fitness is improving.


More data in….

I am so glad I found out about Nordic walking!!! I was going stir crazy not being able to keep up my fitness routine of interval run/walking.

As mentioned previously, my back is causing me trouble, and a lot of pain – I injured it doing something I had done many times before at work, but that doesn’t make it right: Tip – Those manual handling courses and Health and Safety regulations serve a purpose….

Anyway, I read up on the effects of Nordic walking – and the fact that some doctors and physiotherapists use this as way to help people with very serious back injuries (and other injuries) to recover.

There were all sorts of claims as to how it burns more calories – takes the load off of the back and legs – and shares it over the rest of the body – and allows you to exercise for longer as the legs don’t tire so quickly…

My previous post shows a straight 2km walk versus a 2km Nordic walk.

This post shows a full Nordic lake walk versus one of my last C25K Interval (Run/Walk) training before I injured my back. The C25K was around the lake with a 90 second run followed by 2 minute rest, repeating for the full distance.

The kcal burn pretty much speaks for itself – but what you don’t see is the fact that after the Nordic walk I felt like I could just keep going – and I felt comfortable in my back, which is great – as even normal walking around and sitting is leaving me in discomfort at the moment.

So on to those figures…. The top two tables show the data and training heart zones from the C25K interval training. You can see my heart did get into a higher (red) zone – which has certain advantages – but the best zone to be in (for me at the moment – and people exercising in general) is the orange zone. In the lower two tables you can see that for almost the whole distance I was locked into that one zone for the duration – and I didn’t do that on purpose – that’s just as it happened.

INTERVAL TRAINING CHARTS:

NORDIC WALKING CHARTS:

Yup…. that’s only 56 seconds outside of my optimum zone!!!!

When it comes to equipment, you need poles and good trainers (not stiff bottomed hiking boots – you need a flexable sole) the poles have special binds on for wrist support and ease of pole use – It is a glove like design that keeps the pole between your thumb and first finger. Hiking poles just have a wrist loop – and this is no good. As for shaft design: Some people say go for one piece poles due to safety, but this is rubbish! A telescopic pole from a reputable company (tested and certified) is just as safe. The choice between telescopic and fixed length should be due to what you will use the pole for – and nothing to do with safety.

For me though, on an engineering point of view I know what I am looking for in a two part telescopic pole mechanism. Lets face it – sometimes you need a pole that can be shortened to be stored or carried in a back pack. The problem is that a poorly designed telescopic pole lock mechanism and/or a mechanism that hasn’t been tightened properly can cause pole collapse – not a great thing, as you can imagine…(a problem some people have if they just don’t have a good vice like grip when tightening the lock!)

Having yourself checked out for the correct running trainers is also a very important thing to consider – just like for running and jogging. The wrong equipment can end up causing you long term future problems.


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