Nordic Walking is derived from Finnish cross-country skiing and has been practised there since the early 1930’s. It has only been developed in the more southern countries since the start of the 21st century.
The sticks are used, not only as a support, but mainly to project the body forwards.
Our upper limbs play just as important a role as the lower ones in this forwards movement.
A more complete muscular activity is achieved with the additional erect body posture and the rotation of the trunk and the pelvis.
Nordic walking is an excellent aerobic yet gentle sport, not only does it involve considerable muscular effort but it also burns off fat and assists in weight control.
As an outdoor activity, it is a source of relaxation and mental and physical well-being.
Walking in a group is also a good way of meeting people.
It is easy to master and does not involve any great expense; it is a sport accessible to anybody, from amateur to professional sportsmen and women, who can include it in their physical training. It can be used in the recovery process after an injury or as a means of keeping fit in our all too sedentary lives.
In our club we use the ALFA® technique, of German origin. It is essentially in this technique that our instructors are trained.
Nevertheless this very rigorous technique can be easily mastered by the general public according to their learning abilities and thanks to ongoing developments in physical education methods and science.
Our instructors regularly follow training in other sports-related disciplines and apply what they have learned to teaching the technique.
The basic principles of the ALFA® technique and meaning of the acronym are:
A – Aufrecht (Ger.) Straight body position
The aim is to maintain the naturally erect position of the backbone and bring ourselves up to our full height.
L – Langer Arm (Ger.) Long arm)
The arms are kept almost straight during the swing and push phase of Nordic Walking.
F – Flacher Stock (Ger.) Flat stick)
The sticks should be kept at an angle of 55-60° to the ground.
A – Angepasste Schrittlänge (Ger.) Step size)
The aim is to adapt your step size to the terrain. The greater the push of the arms, the longer your step will be.
The method is taught in 5 stages totalling about 10 hours.
At the end of the course you will already have a good basic technique. It will allow you to gradually appreciate the benefits of Nordic Walking with each walk you do.
The walking poles will preferably be one-piece non-adjustable and light weight (60 – 100 % carbon). It is necessary to choose them according to your height. Ask an instructor or a specialised vendor for advice before purchasing them.
The poles are lent by the club during the introductory course … so don’t purchase too quickly!
Footwear: choose good quality low shoes that provide good support to your feet.
In the beginning good quality trainers are suitable.
Special walking socks are highly recommended.
Clothes: sports wear or any clothing you feel comfortable in… and above all suitable for the weather conditions!
In wintertime fingerless or light gloves should be preferred to skiing gloves!
- In the summer protect yourself from mosquitos, ticks and other insects and from the sun (hat, sunscreen),
- In cold weather, protect your hands,
- It is preferable to use a “hip belt” or a “daypack” to carry your phone, water, food, medication ,etc. instead of a huge backpack,
- Don’t forget to drink lots of water,
- And in case of problems a GSM,
- Don’t walk in areas you are not familiar with or that appear unsafe; seek information from local specialists (guides, tourist offices) or join groups for walks.