On my daily Chicago lakefront bike rides I see joggers, walkers, tourists, other cyclists, roller bladers, you name it. A number of the walkers I see use what look like ski poles. They are out regularly and use the poles daily. I wondered what good they were.
Some web searching indicates that they have been around since 1988, yet remain relatively unknown. Tom Rutlin created the Nordic Walking method and brought the first commercial walking poles to the U.S.
Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of the Mayo Institute writes, “Walking poles work your arms, shoulders, chest and upper back muscles through a functional range of motion as you walk — which can help you turn your daily walk into a full-body workout. This activity is sometimes called Nordic walking.
“Most walking poles have rubber tips that grab the pavement and wrist straps that secure the poles to your arms. With one walking pole in each hand, you grip the handles and push off with each stride. Sturdier walking poles designed for hiking are known as hiking or trekking poles.”
He offers the following as benefits of walking poles:
*“The arm movement associated with walking poles adds intensity to your aerobic workout, which helps you burn more calories.
*”Walking poles improve balance and stability.
*”Walking poles help you maintain proper posture, especially in the upper back, and may help to strengthen upper back muscles.
*”Walking poles take some of the load off your lower back, hips and knees, which may be helpful if you have arthritis or back problems.”