Thursday, February 14, 2008

The World is Not Flat- It is rather bumpy


When I take my walk I look for rough and irregular surfaces rather than flat and perfect sidewalks. The variety is a “smart way” to walk and it may save your life.

We frequent flat surfaces to our detriment. We adapt to the sameness, flatness and boring surfaces. Our feet, ankles and legs become stiff and inflexible in response. The communication that is needed to make locomotion possible becomes less and less. The brain stops talking to the feet and the feet stop talking to the brain. And that spells trouble.

It is quite common for the elderly to fall. As we age the muscles involved in locomotion start working in tighter and tighter ranges of motion. As we age it is common to shuffle. The hip muscles that are supposed to cantilever our hips to lift the leg in a swinging motion stop doing their job. Any irregularity in the surface when encounter by a shuffling foot can lead to a fall. And falls can be life threatening.

Our feet, ankles and legs actually thrive when given challenges. Feet and ankles in particular become smarter when meeting irregular surfaces. In fact, there is a counterpart to eye- hand coordination. It is called, of course, eye- foot coordination. In sports they talk about this with good athletes. They are said to have “smart feet”.

Now don’t go and break your neck trying to scale up rough and irregular surfaces. Get smart and try the poles used in “ski walking”. That’s right just like skiing poles only rubber tipped for non- snow surfaces.

Ski walking is much more stable than a cane. Instead of three point support you now have four point support. Whatever is under foot has less impact since you have the stability of a quadra-ped.

But the one downside are the jokes from your friends and neighbors. “How is the skiing?” “Don’t you know the mountain is over there?” and so forth. But after everyone runs out of one-liners you can enjoy the fun and healthful benefits of walking the rather bumpy earth.

Kevin Kunz

Ski Walking poles

2 comments:

SKIWALKING.COM And The American Nordic Walking System said...

Hi Kevin,

Great article about the importance of walking and walking on a variety of surfaces. You are totally correct about Ski Walking Poles – also known as Nordic Walking Poles. When using the perfect length poles and correct technique the poles are like 4-Wheel-Drive and greatly improve balance and stability. Even folks with severe balance issues including MS, Parkinson’s and Neuropathy are finding huge success with our durable one-piece poles. One piece poles are safer, lighter and more durable than cheap twist-locking adjustable/telescoping/collapsible poles – that can collapse unexpectedly.

As a running coach I have always told my athletes that they need to practice perfect form at high speed – even the distance runners. I have been telling them for years that running smart requires a ton of coordination at high speed (eye-foot). Similar in concept to the coordination a basketball player needs to develop dribbling a basketball.

During ski season I have always had my racers practice skiing with out poles and really feel the snow under their feet.

Back to Nordic Ski Walking – over 6 million Europeans are walking with special poles. Walking with poles can also burn up to 40% more calories than regular walking!

Many of my customers tell me that the only time they felt comfortable walking was pushing a shopping cart – until they received their NEW Nordic Ski Walking Poles! Perfect length poles help us to walk with a straighter back without even thinking about it – biomechanically a very good thing.

Keep up the good work and have FUN Nordic Ski Walking,

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

WWW.SKIWALKING.COM and The American Nordic Walking System said...

We have been donating durable one-piece Nordic Walking Poles to the Wounded Warriors Program and the improved balance and stability provided by the poles has been pretty much 100% successful.

While hosting Nordic Walking Clinics at Fort Carson in Colorado many of the Wounded Warriors came using their canes and/or walkers - ALL found that the correct length poles improved posture and radically reduced the stress to the shins, knees, hips and back!

One of the soldiers had just been released from his wheel chair and found total success with the correct length poles.

Cheap twist-lock or flip-lock poles could not have held up to the added pressure and stress put on the poles during these clinics with the Wounded Warriors. One-piece poles that are sized correctly are safer, lighter and much more durable than cheap twist-lock/flip-lock adjustable length/telescoping/collapsible poles.

Walking with poles is the best!