August 13, 2021

Nordic Walking technique and trekking: why they are not the same

If we say “Nordic Walking technique” what do you think? To this question, many people focus on groups of old people intent on brandishing the first poles found in some sports store.

Often, in fact, Nordic Walking is mistakenly thought of as a gentle gymnastics suitable for certain age groups. The action of walking is not associated with the precise technique and sustained rhythms that distinguish this sport. Nordic Walking poles, finally, are naively mistaken for trekking poles.

So let’s start by saying that Nordic Walking is a sport for everyone and for all ages. The Nordic walk uses poles to be used through a specific technique. From the point of view of development, Nordic Walking has in common with trekking only the action to walking.

Nordic Walking basic technique and the difference with trekking

With this article we want to give you a general overview so you can understand exactly what Nordic Walking is! You write it on a post-it on the fridge or as a reminder on your mobile: Nordic Walking is not trekking. Although both these activities exploit the action of walking, there are substantial differences.

Trekking trails may not be suitable for Nordic Walking

The first difference is the type of track. The paths for trekking can have differences in height, climbs or descents. Nordic Walking requires flat funds or slopes with little importance and compactness, which allow the technique to be carried out in the right way.

The basic Nordic Walking technique, in fact, is different from the technique used in trekking. This diversity becomes evident precisely from the poles. The technique of Nordic Walking requires poles with special characteristics, which differ from those for trekking on the basis of their functionality.

When we talk about Nordic Walking and basic technique, we must start from the conception that poles are not just accessories, but that they are fundamental tools for the purpose to be achieved.

Poles have a different functionality

In trekking, poles contribute to the redistribution of weight in particular points of the route. They are therefore a support to be able to deal with points with a certain slope or that require particular support.

Speaking of Nordic Walking and technique, the poles have instead the functionality to push us forward and increase the pace of walking. They also help to involve the upper part of the body, as they determine the rotation of the trunk, which intersects with the movement of the legs and arms.

So you should imagine a movement that in trekking brings the poles in front of you, as a support the weight of a backpack uphill. Speaking of Nordic Walking and basic technique, instead, the poles accompany the step and then be left behind you.

Nordic Walking

Nordic walking and trekking poles: differences

Handrail and lace

On a visual level, the trekking poles have a lace-up, the Nordic Walking poles have a handrail.

Nordic Walking grip
Trekking grip

The Nordic Walking handrail is similar to a glove that wraps around the palm and has a loop for the thumb. The handrail is designed in this way because the pole must always be firmly connected to the hand, exactly in the natural cavity that is formed between the thumb and palm of the hand, hand relaxed.

The difference comes from their functionality. It would not be possible to keep the Nordic Walking pole well connected in the hand with a pair of trekking poles.

The grip

The Nordic Walking grip is generally thinner and inclined by about 7 degrees forward, to facilitate the width of the thrust. In addition, it does not have a pronounced head like those for trekking, where it has the function of support for the palm of the hand downhill.

Another feature of Nordic Walking poles that differentiates them from trekking is the quick throttle of the handrail. Nordic walking poles should always provide for this.

Quick throttle of the handrail – Nordic Walking poles

Trekking poles: the recommended

Nordic Walking poles: the unmissable

Multipurpose poles to make both

But there are Nordic Walking poles that can also be used for trekking and other activities. Although the opposite is not possible, namely that a trekking pole is good for Nordic Walking, the replacement of some components allows to make of a Nordic Walking pole polyglot.



Nordic Walking pole height: how to measure

At this point in the article you have surely understood the difference between trekking and Nordic Walking. You have chosen your poles and you are ready to purchase. But in terms of Nordic Walking pole height… how do you calculate? Nothing could be easier:

  • Stand on a level ground
  • Put on the handrail and hold the stick
  • Bend your arm to 90 seconds
  • Calculate the distance from your elbow to the floor

This measuring system is also good for trekking, with the care of putting your hand in the loop. Now you have the size of your poles! To help you even more, here is a table on Nordic Walking and pole height that can clarify the ideas when you buy:

150-155 cm100 cm
156-160 cm105 cm
161-165 cm110 cm
166-170 cm115 cm
171-175 cm115 cm
176-180 cm120 cm
181-185 cm125 cm
186-190 cm130 cm
191-195 cm130 cm
196-200 cm135 cm

Nordic Walking and basic technique: how you can do it

Nordic Walking basic technique: where to start? From the heating! Make lenses and check for circumvolutions to warm ankles, pelvis, shoulders and neck. This phase will serve to prepare you for the actual activity.

Bake the handrail of your poles previously adjusted to the right height and position to start walking. Clear your mind, keep your poles at 45/50 degrees and start to move your first steps. The right leg pairs with the left arm and vice versa. A slight rotation of the torso creates a sort of intersection with the pairs of limb

Every time the poles are behind you, let go of the handrail and complete the push. To start it can be useful to try to walk faster than usual by dragging the sticks on the ground. The movement of the arms will automatically guide you to the correct coordination.

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