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Nordic Walking (re)education

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7th European Congress of the Fédération Internationale de Education Physique (FIEP).
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Nordic Walking (re)education

  1. 1. NORDIC WALKING (RE)EDUCATION 1 Nordic Walking (re)education Jordi Pau Caballero Oller* and Marc Moreno Tarragó** * Mountain sports General Manager and Nordic Walking National Coach INWA ** BSc (Hons) Physical activity and Nordic Walking Instructor INWA Nordic Walking Pirineus – INWA-Spain Contact: AbstractNordic Walking is a physical activity developed in northern Europe that has expanded worldwide.Its ability to influence a variety of areas makes it a transversal activity in relation to health, physicalconditioning and sports. This explains its projection in tourism, leisure activities, rehabilitation and,why not, education. However, even with this potential, it remains unknown in some countries. Wewill therefore attempt to summarize the key points of this activity and propose a way ofimplementation within the educational community. Keywords: Nordic Walking, education, health1.- What’s Nordic Walking?Nordic Walking is a form of physical activity, where to regular natural walking there has beenadded the active use of a pair of specially designed Nordic Walking poles. However, thecharacteristics of natural, biomechanically correct walking and appropriate posture are maintainedin all aspects. It also means that the arm movements of the correct Nordic Walking techniquerespect the range of movement of natural walking.Technically correct use of poles actively involves the upper body into the work of walking, to propelthe body forward. The physical strain is distributed in a versatile, balanced and appropriate way tovarious muscle groups of the whole body.The correct pole technique gives an opportunity to significantly intensify the process of walking byincreasing the muscle work of the upper body. It also gives an opportunity to involve the muscles ofthe rest of the body. Nordic Walking is a safe, natural, dynamic, efficient and suitable-for-all form ofa physical activity that trains the body in a holistic, symmetric and balanced way. The overall goalof Nordic Walking is a general physical and mental well-being (INWA, 2010).2.- Origins and developmentThe fist type of Nordic Walking dates back to the thirties, in Finland, when the national crosscountry skiing team started training the skiing technique during the summer, walking and runningwith poles. Since then this has been an important off-season training method for every crosscountry skier in the world.The first research about its health benefits date back to 1966 in Finland. Nordic Walking in itspresent form was initiated in 1996 when three organizations joined efforts in order to develop it: theSuomen Latu, the Sports Institute of Vierumäki and Exel, a finish manufacturer of poles. Exelinvents the name “Nordic Walking” in 1997 and introduces the first composite Nordic Walking pole,giving birth to the international expansion of this new sport. The INWA (International NordicWalking Association) is established in Finland in 2000 first as an association and as a federationlater on, with Finland, Austria and Germany as its first members. It is not until 2005 that theAsociación Deportiva Nordic Walking Catalunya introduces this physical activity in Spain, beingINWA´s representative in Spain. (INWA-Spain, 2011)
  2. 2. NORDIC WALKING (RE)EDUCATION 23.- The technique, correct teaching and benefitsThe 10 step approach to teaching Nordic Walking is based on three principles: correct posture,correct walking and correct pole technique. It is based on: posture, walking, carrying, dragging,planting, pushing, extending, recovering, leaning and rotating (INWA, 2011)A correct technique yields benefits for those who practice it. Among the latest research thefollowing are outlined: • Marked improvement not only in their fitness but in their body composition as well. That improvement could be attributed to the specificity of Nordic Walking, i.e. engagement of almost all muscles that enabled a more intense workout at a lower perceived fatigue (Piotrowska, 2011). • Physiological benefits: improves maximal oxygen uptake, heart rate and energy expenditure (Morgulec-Adamowicz, Marszalek & Jagustyn, 2011). • Biomechanic benefits: improves posture, reduces stress on the foot joints (Pérez, Llana, Encarnación & Fuster 2009) and load reduction effect on the lumbar vertebrae´s shear force, the hip compression force and the knee shear force (Koizumi, Tsujiuchi, Takeda, Fujikura, & Kojima, 2011). • Psychological benefits: regular Nordic Walking in family practice could be used as a form of rehabilitation for depressed patients (Suija, Pechter, Kalda, Tähepõld, Maaroos & Maaroos, 2009).4.- Nordic Walking´s educational potentialThe unhealthy environments and behaviours in our society led to different international institutionsand bodies to voice their concerns about obesity and overweight problems caused by a sedentarylifestyle and inactivity, particularly in children (WHO, 2010). Educating via Nordic Walkingpermanently communicates formal and informal areas. This means that it is not only used as aneducational tool but as a reeducational one, in a transveral way for most of the population,integrating different ages, physical conditions and backgrounds. And here lies the true importanceof the professional´s specific training in this physical activity, in order to lead individuals or groups: • At schools it is possible to implement it on Physical Education and extra-curricular activities. But also for teachers and as a shared activity for students and their parents. Based on our own experience with students participating in the activities of the Sports Educational Plan in Catalunya, via the Sports Councils of Ripollès and Cerdanya, Physical Education classes should be structured through games and ability circuits with poles and not through teaching the walking technique. In this way the most boring aspects of learning are eliminated and motivation is achieved by introducing the active elements. Regarding the teachers there are two values to consider: on one hand the possibility of having a new innovative and healthy educational resource, and on the other, knowing the technique, which will invite to its practice. This will enable teachers to gain the benefits associated to the practice of Nordic walking, minimising the effects of bad postural habits at work and muscular pain due to the accumulated tension of the working day. Examples: Nordic Walking seminar, aimed to teaching body, Sports Council of Baix Llobregat, 2012 (; and the international project “Walking Towars Health”, 2011-2013 ( carried out by four secondary schools from Poland, Italy, Portugal, and Catalonia-Spain (Comenius Programme).
  3. 3. NORDIC WALKING (RE)EDUCATION 3 • At health centres, the use of Nordic Walking in prevention measures and as a therapeutic option for different pathologies represents both an educational activity and a re-educational action for our bodies in order to restore body balance. • At sporting entities, introducing this physical activity and providing a continuous technical improvement, not only focusing on Nordic Walking itself but also as a tool to improve performance in other sporting activities. • At the Public Administration, promoting healthy physical activity and coordinating all entities involved in this matter Certainly, it is not rare to find a hybrid blending of the mentioned points, thus, making the transversality of Nordic Walking evident, as it is always linked to one or more attributes: educational, sporting, touristic, familial, social, healthy, therapeutic, preventive…5.- ConclusionsNordic Walking is presented as a learning process of a new technique of adding poles to thenatural way of walking. But most of all, as an educational tool when promoting the health habit ofpracticing physical activity. Its maximal potential is gained when practiced in a group.Little by little we will have a population familiarised with this “kind” physical activity, undoubtedlyfacilitating their adherence to it and contributing to breaking free from the social isolation a numberof them suffer. But there is another positive value to consider: thanks to the knowledge andpractice of Nordic Walking, the developed skills and aptitudes will be transferable to everyday lifeduring our lifetime.6.- AcknowledgmentsMany thanks to Cristina González Castro, BSc (Hons) Sport, Health and Exercise Science andNordic Walking INWA Instructor for translating and proofreading this paper, and to every client andstudent that we had the pleasure to introduce to this fantastic way of physical activity, NordicWalking.7.- ReferencesINWA (2010). Definition of Nordic Walking. Retrived April 23, 2012, from (2011). INWA Nordic Walking Instructor Course Manual 2011. Helsinki, Finland:International Nordic Walking Federation.INWA-Spain (2011). A little bit of history. Retrived April 23, 2012, from, T., Tsujiuchi, N., Takeda, M., Fujikura, R. and Kojima, T. (2011). Load dynamics of jointsin nordic walking. Procedia Engineering, 11, 544-551.Morgulec-Adamowicz, N., Marszalek, J. and Jagustyn, P. (2011). Nordic Walking - A new form ofadapted physical activity. Human Movement, 12(2), 124-132Pérez, P., Llana, S., Encarnación, A. and Fuster, M.A. (2009). Nordic Walking: an alternativephysical activity in taking care of the foot. European Journal of Human Movement, 22, 83-94Piotrowska, J. (2011). Effects of a regular motor activity on somatic and fitness variables in boysaged 17 – 18 years. Biomedical Human Kinetics, 3, 53-56.
  4. 4. NORDIC WALKING (RE)EDUCATION 4Suija K., Pechter U., Kalda R., Tähepõld H., Maaroos J. and Maaroos H.I. (2009). Physical activityof depressed patients and their motivation to exercise: nordic walking in family practice.International Journal Rehabilitation Research, 32 (2), 132-138.WHO. (2010). Global recommendations on physical activity for health. Geneva, Switzerland: WorldHealth Organisation.