By Gill Stewart at
At WALX we have been at the forefront of poles walking for rehabilitation since 2004 when we first brought Nordic Walking into the country and started to work with Age UK
Things have moved on since then and our experts now don’t actually recommend Nordic Walking in its pure form for many medical conditions or falls prevention.
The number one factor is that traditional Nordic Walking requires the participant to be strapped into the poles because the aim is to gain forward propulsion from not gripping the pole but articulating through the strap. Apart from the fact that many can not master this degree of technicality, there are also risks from being tripped by the poles which can be unwittingly dragged in front of the feet during the arm swing phase.
The second factor is that Nordic walking poles have narrow straight handles because they are not supposed to be gripped but the natural inclination is to do so and this immediately places the pole at an upright angle which in turn can force the wrist out of the ideal neutral position. It’s important to remember at this point that Nordic walking is all about forward propulsion and using the pole at an angle in order to gain this.
The handle on the WALX Activator poles is designed to avoid over gripping, keep the neutral wrist position and help to guide the pole into the correct angle. There is also a platform on the base of the handle which has a number of crucial benefits for use in rehabilitation.
Whilst it can be used to gain the propulsion typically gained from a Nordic walking strap, it can also provide a stable platform for those who need to pause and regain balance (especially effective when used in PD rehabilitation) or simply take a rest. We have found that using this platform also helps the user to achieve better posture and more crucially look forward rather than down at their feet. Those who need to pause for breath (COPD patients and similar) report that the also poles help them to breathe more easily due to improved posture and more ‘open’ chest position
WALX Activator poles come with a bell shaped rubber ‘paw’ on the bottom for stability but it is also possible to progress to a more angled boot shaped paw if the user is able to maintain the armswing and pole position required for forward propulsion and fitness walking. The former is invaluable for falls prevention as it has maximum grip surface and is also invaluable for those recovering from lower body joint replacement where the poles really reduce weight bearing.
This adaptability allows the Physiotherapist/occupational therapist of similar to adjust the pole and paws to cater for the abilities of each and every client. Our 4 hour workshop for specialists explores the research and adaptations of both the pole and pole walking techniques for a range of conditions – see HERE for more details and dates.
Our team are dedicated to helping people access the RIGHT type of pole walking and have experience in all aspects of exercise referral and rehabilitation – call us on 0333 1234 540 if you have any questions. In the meantime check out the videos below to see why we believe using two poles and the RIGHT type of poles is crucial.
This video shows a Gentleman with PD using his traditional walking stick – (consent given for this demonstration by the WALX Instructor Sam Armstrong and the client)
This video shows how the Activator poles help the same Gentleman gain a balanced upright posture (consent given for this demonstration by the WALX Instructor Sam Armstrong and the client)