Workout with two poles

Nordic walking: full-body workout

People are quick to dismiss Nordic walking poles as glorified walking sticks. But if you use the two poles correctly, you can give yourself a full-body workout.
The sun’s shining and luring you outdoors for some exercise. If you’re not keen on jogging or cycling, maybe it’s time to try out Nordic walking. What many people don’t know is that there are various techniques for walking with poles to get your whole body moving. But before you try getting to grips with the double pole or skating technique, you should make sure you have the right equipment and have familiarised yourself with the basics.

What equipment do you need?

You don’t need much to go Nordic walking: comfortable clothes and sports shoes with a good grip, and two poles (ideally made of lightweight carbon) are really all that’s required. The poles can be fixed length or adjustable. You can choose the right length by holding the poles by the grips and placing them vertically on the ground. Your arms should be bent at an angle of almost 90 degrees, with your forearms parallel to the ground. Your poles should also have a strap at the grip.
It’s really important to get the technique right. Otherwise you can put undue strain on your joints. Kimberly Ann Zwygart, santé24 exercise specialist

Basic technique is crucial

The basic technique isn’t rocket science either. It’s important to be standing up straight. While you’re walking, your arms should always be moving in the opposite direction to your legs. In other words, when your left arm and pole swing forwards, your right foot is behind. When it’s in front, you hold the grip of the pole and push it firmly backwards. You should be placing the pole on the ground around the middle of the stride. When your arm’s moving forward it should be slightly bent, but when it’s moving backwards you mostly keep it long. As your arm’s on the way back you open your hand, pull it up and let go of the grip. At this point it’s only the strap that’s connecting your hand to the pole. “It’s really important to get the technique right. Otherwise you can put undue strain on your joints,” explains santé24 exercise specialist Kimberly Ann Zwygart.

The ALFA technique will help you remember the basic rules:

  • A = Appropriate posture
  • L = Long arm
  • F = Flat pole
  • A = Adapted stride length

You’ll find a detailed description of each step (in German and French) on the Swiss Nordic Fitness Organisation website.

Cardiovascular and muscle workout

The main impetus in Nordic walking comes from your trunk and the rhythmic, “flat” use of poles. This exercises and strengthens the muscles in your back and torso. Thanks to the poles, your arms and upper body are also involved. Swinging your arms intensifies the workout for your cardiovascular system and muscles. You’ve got the pace just right if you can hold a conversation with the person training with you. If talking’s difficult, you should go more slowly.

The most beautiful Nordic walking trails in Switzerland

If you’ve got Nordic walking fever you’ll find four varied trails from 4.7 to 16 kilometres on the Switzerland Tourism website.

SWICA is an official partner of Switzerland Tourism, and through this cooperation supports the organisation’s measures to promote Swiss tourism and its ties with Switzerland as a travel destination.

In the event of further health-related questions, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 telemedicine service free of charge on +41 44 404 86 86. A telemedicine practice licence allows santé24 physicians to provide additional medical services in cases that are suited to a telemedicine approach. SWICA customers can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. During a subsequent phone call with santé24, customers can decide for themselves whether to release their information from SymptomCheck to santé24.