Nordic Walking Instructions: Nordic Walking Instructions for Any AGE or FITNESS Level

— Written By and last updated by

– Developed By The American Nordic Walking System

The Basic Technique:

Keep the poles slightly angled back. Ski walking is not a hand above your heart type of exercise. Your hands and feet work opposite – when you lead with your right foot, be sure to lead with your left hand (just like regular walking, running, and cross-country skiing). Keep your fingers loose and relaxed. The pole plant is NOT out in front of you – it is only as far forward as the heel of the opposing foot (plant the right pole tip in line with the heel of your left foot). Keep the poles angled back behind you. Let the fancy straps do the work – don’t squeeze the poles. As you become more comfortable start to “push” off a little after every pole plant – putting the pressure from the heel of your hand into the cradle of the strap. Remember that there is a pole plant with every heel strike – left pole with the right heel and right pole with left heel. Don’t swing your poles out in front – wrong/bad. Keep the rubber tip or metal tips behind you – even as your hands move forward. Ideally, the poles are always angled slightly behind at all times, unless you have a balance issue.

Level #1:

Casually walking, trekking, and hiking with the poles is healthy and good – burning over 20% more calories than regular walking! Remember to keep your chin up, fingers relaxed and poles slightly angled back. Each pole plants inline with the opposing foot’s heel – alternating and never out in front unless going down a steep hill. When done correctly you will immediately notice your improved posture – walking taller and with a straighter back, automatically, without having to think about it. If you notice one or both of your rubber tips slipping be sure to practice on the grass with the rubber tips off – using the metal tips.

Level #1 With A Punch (firm pole plant):

Continue to keep those fingers relaxed – DON’T grip the poles. Take advantage of your comfortable Nordic Walking Straps – patented by the Salomon Ski Company. Feel the pressure from the heel of your hand distributed effectively into the cradle of the strap versus squeezing and gripping the poles. Punch the rubber Nordic Walking tips/asphalt paws into the road/walking surface with a firm pole plant – in sync with the opposite heel. This additional punch will beef up the effectiveness of Level 1. Remember – fingers relaxed and NO white-knuckling!

people using nordic poles

Click the link below to watch a short instructional video:

Nordic Walking Instructions

For more information about ski walking and upcoming ski walking classes, contact Robert Hawk, Extension Director in Swain County at