Why specially designed Nordic Walking poles are essential to go "Nordic Walking"

Have you ever wondered whether the using any type of pole during a walk can be described as Nordic Walking, and whether the use of trekking or other poles are suitable for a Nordic Walking class?

The term “Nordic Walking” was first coined in 1997 to describe the technique derived from cross-country skiing by pole manufacturers, Exel, in collaboration with sports scientists and biomechanics experts. In 2000, the International Nordic Walking Association (INWA – now known as the International Nordic Walking Federation) was formed to take custodianship of the technique and to promote it world-wide. 

It is unfortunate that, over time, the term “Nordic Walking” has become often misused to describe other types of walking with poles, either through the unawareness of its true definition or as a commercial tactic.

British Nordic Walking CIC is the sole representative of INWA in the UK and Ireland and as such is committed to maintaining the integrity of the technique and the 10-Step teaching method so we clarify the definition of “Nordic Walking” thus: 

“In Nordic Walking the active use of specially designed poles engages both the upper and lower body, enhancing your walking technique, to propel yourself forward.” 

“Specially designed poles” means the use of Nordic Walking poles, not trekking poles, Activator poles, Exerstrider poles, or any other non-Nordic Walking poles. 

The 10-Step technique, which all our instructors have been trained to teach, includes steps that cannot be performed with other poles. The handle and strap/glove are integral parts of the poles’ design and essential to performing Nordic Walking correctly. The light weight of a Nordic Walking pole makes it feel effortless to swing which will not be the case with other poles. 

Nordic Walking propels the body forward in a way that enhances the natural walking style. Poles that are designed to give support to the user cannot achieve this essential aspect of Nordic Walking. 

British Nordic Walking believe that it is not possible to teach using the 10-Step technique using non-Nordic Walking poles and that “Nordic Walking” applies only to the technique that you teach using the 10-Step method. 

When you contact a British Nordic Walking instructor, they will be able to provide the correct poles for you.  There is no need to purchase any poles until you are sure you want to continue.  Many of our instructors offer taster sessions so you can get an idea of the many benefits of Nordic walking and decide whether to continue with beginner lessons, as you will need to learn the basic technique before you are able to join a group session.

Other types of poles have their own advantages and may be preferred by some people but they are not suitable for Nordic Walking.

Why not use our "find an instructor" page and gain the maximum benefit by learning the correct technique with specially designed equipment?


Back to blog