Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sizing Nordic Walking Poles For Success – Perfect Length Poles

When I placed my first large order of Nordic Walking Poles, I remember being told by the Norwegians that they recommended Nordic Walking Poles to be much shorter than cross country length poles. Their size chart was not as simple as taking your height and multiplying by .68 or .7 like several manufactures suggest. The goal should be to ensure that when standing tall and strapped into the comfortable patented Nordic Walking straps the elbow would be at 90 degrees and the forearm parallel to the ground. And they were right! When using the correct length poles even men that walk like apes begin to automatically walk with perfect posture without having to think about it.

As it turns out the multiplying your height by .68 or by .7 is only a rough guesstamater – often putting taller individuals and those in-between sizes in poles that are to short.

After hosting hundreds of Nordic Walking classes/clinics during the past four years I have developed a pretty good feel for sizing everyone into the correct length poles. ALL of my customers receive a perfect length guarantee. ALL sizes are in-stock and ready to ship. Once I know how tall someone is I personally select the perfect length poles for their height. Our customer satisfaction rating is 100%!

Perfect length poles help us to automatically walk with a super straight back - better walking posture is bio mechanically a good thing. This improved walking posture when combined with the unique 4-Wheel-Drive type action of walking with poles radically reduces the stress to the shins, knees, hips and back. Nordic Walking is low impact and yet provides a highly effective workout - burning more calories and working more muscle groups than regular walking.

The Runners and skiers I coach like their Nordic Walking poles sized the same as the senior citizens and the individuals with balance problems that take my classes. If we go shorter with the poles we find that there is "bending at the waist" and that is NOT a good thing! When testing pole length the REAL question should be "which pair makes your back feel the best". During my classes the customer response 100% of the time is the pair that puts the elbow at 90 degrees when standing still and standing tall. Please note that different pole manufactures measure poles slightly differently – just like the ski companies. I don't know why some companies suggest shorter poles for seniors? I have NEVER had a senior pick poles that were shorter than recommended.

I read today about a retailer suggesting 130cm poles for individuals up to 6’ 5"? Individuals that are 6’ 5" would be best served with 135cm or 140cm poles – depending on the manufacture’s sizing (different manufactures may vary actual pole length by up to 5cm). Regardless, 130cm poles would force someone 6’ 5" to bend forward at the waist and eliminate many of the benefits of walking with the correct length poles.

Last month I custom made some Nordic Walking Poles for an individual that was 6’ 8" because our longest SWIX VIP Nordic Walking Poles and EXEL Urban Skier Nordic Walking Poles are 140cm – way to short for a 6’ 8" Nordic Walker, but ideal for someone 6’ 4" – 6’ 6". I can take a pair of quality cross country ski poles or roller ski poles in longer lengths and add Nordic Walking tips plus straps in order to get a perfect fit for individuals above 6’6" and to tall for our 140cm poles. Twist-locking adjustable length poles are typically extra flimsy above 130cm and can not provide a Perfect Fit for taller Nordic Walkers.

One-piece poles are safer, lighter and much more durable than twist-locking adjustable length/telescoping/collapsible poles. Individuals with balance issues and seniors should avoid twist-locking adjustable poles. I just received an email from a professor at McGill University confirming that our one-piece poles are hassle free when compared to the twist-locking adjustable length poles she purchased by mistake from another source and found they "self-adjusted and partially collapsed" on most of her walks.

When demonstrating Nordic Walking to a dietitian this week she noted that her clients could ALL benefit from "MORE WALKING" too – most of her clients suffer from high blood pressure and/or diabetes. And of course "MORE WALKING" could be the most valuable prevention activity to help get Americans back on the path to improved health and fitness.

Walking with poles is the best!

Pete - owner/founder/coach The American Nordic Walking System and WWW.SKIWALKING.COM Nordic Walking Poles

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