by Erick Wikum
During her November 28 memorial service, Rosalynn Carter’s grandson, Jason Carter, shared some humorous anecdotes. She remembered his every birthday with a card and a $20 bill—even when Jason turned 45. She traveled the world, visiting 122 countries, and even climbed to the Mount Kilmanjaro base camp. In that spirit, she told him that what might appear to be her cane was in fact a trekking pole.
Like a cane, trekking poles provide stability when walking, hiking, or climbing. Nordic walking (sauvakävely in Finnish) is a form of fitness walking aided by specially designed poles. Nordic poles include wrist straps and either sharp tips (suitable for use on the Little Miami Scenic Trail) or rubber nubs (suitable for use on concrete surfaces). Some poles are adjustable in length, which is handy for providing the proper fit. The technique is just an extension of walking with arms alternatively swinging forward and pushing off towards the rear using the poles. A short video illustrating the basic technique is availablehere. Nordic walking not only can be safer than conventional walking (due to use of stabilizing poles), but also provides proven health benefits, burning more calories and engaging more muscle groups than regular walking, as explained in thisHarvard Medical School article.
Is Nordic walking for you? The real test is not whether you are in your 90s and in need of a cane, like Rosalynn was, but whether you want to take walking to the next level of safety and health. I invite you to submit any questions you have about Nordic walking poles, technique, etc. to theTrail Mail editorthrough whom I will provide a response.