What is the difference between Nordic Walking and pole walking?

Nordic Walking vs polewalking

There is often confusion amongst non-Nordic Walkers about what Nordic Walking actually is.

You don't have to look far to see articles about Nordic Walking illustrated with pictures of people using trekking poles or to see a bent-elbowed walking technique using trekking poles described as Nordic Walking.

But Nordic Walking is not just "walking with poles" and with good reason. Originally developed as a means of helping cross country skiers to train when there is no snow, Nordic Walking is now very much its own thing, its special technique using specially designed poles enhancing the natural movement of walking to create extra power.

This video, from Gilly Davy, an INWA Nordic Walking instructor and respected neuro physiotherapist, explains the difference between Nordic Walking and pole walking, why this difference matters, and how you can tell the difference between Nordic Walking poles and other types of walking pole. 

Key points that Gilly makes are:

  • Nordic Walking and pole walking are different. Each is a valid form of walking and has its own benefits and uses. Nordic Walking propels you forward; pole walking is good for support but will not give you the Nordic Walking drive.

  • Much of the research carried out into Nordic Walking has been done using the original INWA technique. If you are impressed by anyone making claims based on this research, check that they are indeed teaching Nordic Walking, not pole walking, as the research will not be applicable to anything other than Nordic Walking using the INWA technique.

  • Nordic Walking poles are very different to trekking or other walking poles with a slimmer hand grip and straps that are used as an integral part of the Nordic Walking technique.

  • There is no evidence that Nordic Walking poles present any greater danger of falling or of injury from a fall than other walking poles do.


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