Does Nordic Walking really improve back, hip, knee and leg pain on walking? Testimonials by people around the world
Since we started writing about the benefits of Nordic Walking in ESRAmagazine two years ago, more than 100 ESRA members with back, hip, or knee pain on walking started using the poles. Ninety-one per cent have found that using the poles lessened their pain on walking and increased the distance they could walk. For most, this improvement has been maintained for at least a year.
Is this a local finding or do others in the world have the same experience? We looked in Google for the testimonials of people in other countries and these are the kinds of stories we found from the United States, England, Australia, Poland and other countries.
As a result of years of carrying around heavy equipment as part of her job, Annette had been suffering constant back pains. Then she decided to take up Nordic Walking.
Said Annette: “Nordic Walking has changed my life! My back issues made standing for long periods and walking long distances a problem. Once I became involved in Nordic Walking, I found that my back was exercised as well as my legs and now I can walk without having to sit down regularly to rest my back, and I have no trouble standing all day.” Annette now does a 6-8 kilometer walk with her poles at least twice every week. “I would recommend Nordic Walking to anyone”, she says.
Ten years after a knee replacement, Joan continued to have pain in that knee while walking. When she started Nordic Walking, the pressure and pain in her knee rapidly disappeared and she could walk 1.5 miles. Her gait and balance also improved.
Barb smashed her heel in a car accident and underwent surgery but continued to have pain while walking for several months thereafter. When she started using the poles, the pain on walking rapidly disappeared and this has been maintained.
Man from Pittsburgh
He spent long hours on his feet at work for years and had had severe pain in his back and knees on standing and walking for a long time. Even walking the short distance to his car was painful. He started walking with the poles and immediately felt a great improvement in his back and knee pain. “It was fantastic,” he said. “This relief has continued.”
“I loved running but now I can't do that anymore because of my cronky knees. Nordic Walking really fills that gap. To be able to do the Nordic Walk 10 kilometers the other week was a fantastic experience for me.”
Letty has always loved to walk, cycle and dance, but five years ago, arthritis began rapidly creeping into her knees, making almost any kind of physical activity painful.
“I felt like an old lady,” says the vivacious 42-year-old today, thinking back to the difficulties she had simply rising out of a chair. In an attempt to stay active, she tried swimming, group exercise classes and a circuit-style workout, but none was quite the right fit. When she noticed an upbeat group of women striding through her neighborhood with Nordic Walking poles, she asked her orthopedic hip and knee surgeon for his input.
“He said it would be a ‘magnificent’ exercise choice for me.” Today, Letty is a Nordic Walking devotee. “Every time I push off with the poles, it releases pressure on my knees,” she says. “And focusing on the coordination and technique takes my mind away from them.” There’s another really big bonus: she’s 40 pounds lighter thanks to her once-again active lifestyle.
“I have been Nordic Walking for about a year and it has made a great difference to me. I am 66 years old with two knee replacements and a resurfaced hip. A couple of years ago, I walked with a stick and have walked slowly for years though I have always used the gym. Nordic Walking seemed to be a good way for me to do some Cardio exercise and so it has proved. I walk very fast with the poles and it has improved my fitness considerably and I have suffered no joint pain as a result of my walks. I can now walk much further as well as faster and will set myself some challenges this coming year. See you on the walks!”
“Since I have been doing a weekly Workout Walk, my level of fitness has increased but more importantly, my backache that I have been suffering from for a number of years has vastly improved. Nordic Walking has improved my posture and I would recommend it to everyone, irrespective of how fit you are!”
“I was having difficulty walking more than 400 yards with a cane before experiencing pain in my lower back. I looked into urban poling (Nordic Walking) and was impressed with the many benefits claimed. With my first purchase of the Activator (Nordic Poles), I walked more than four kilometers with NO sign of back pain! I now walk daily, my posture is good, I feel fitter than I have for many years and am looking forward to losing weight. Thank goodness for urban poling.”
“I love my poles. I walk our dog every day. I find I have better balance on the uneven trails, Knees and hips have less pain, and I have had some weight loss. I bought the poles because it was becoming a struggle for me to go for a walk. If it wasn’t for the poles, I would probably have to give it up. I am extremely pleased. I am still able to get out with our dog at least an hour a day.”
“The Activator (Nordic) poles were for my 70-year old father who has been having a progressively harder time walking since a back injury years ago. I was afraid he was going to have to go into a wheelchair, although he’d been fighting it. I went to visit him in March and I was heartbroken to see him so unsteady. He had to do a kind of tilting shamble, so that he could raise his feet enough not to trip on carpeting. He loves them (Nordic Poles). He uses them all the time and my mother tells me he looks much stronger. She always had to stop and wait for him when they went out together, but now he’s the fast one.”
“I love the fact that my Activator (Nordic) poles provide me with the ability to be outside exercising on my own. At 100-years-old, that is very important to me!”
“I love to keep fit by walking around “The Peninsula” but earlier this year, my walking for exercise was hindered by the recurrence of an old knee injury. I took up Nordic Walking to enable me to keep up my exercise and it’s been the best thing! I find I get an even better workout using the Nordic poles and once I came to terms with feeling a bit odd walking around the river with the poles – I embraced the poles as a whole new level of exercise which reduced the level of stress on my knee joints. Now I love to tell my friends I’ve been pole dancing in the park!”
“Love my walking poles! Had spinal fusion a year ago, for the second time. Am planning to walk a marathon next April using these poles, as they make my walks pain free and enjoyable. Thank you!”
“When I Nordic walk, my back never plays up. If I go back to natural walking it starts hurting again. It's the best exercise that I've tried by far.”
It would seem that our experience with people in ESRA in Israel with the lessening of pain on walking when they start Nordic Walking is similar to that of people all over the world. The only people who seem unaware of its benefits for depression, balance, weakness, and painful backs, hips, knees, and ankles are medical professionals, as seen from the fact that none of the over 100 ESRA people with these problems had ever received a recommendation from their medical professionals to try Nordic Walking.
Although we did not show it here, other testimonials pointed out that people’s depression often left them when they started Nordic Walking, probably due to the combination of the exercise itself, getting out in nature, being out with others and the general improvement in pain, speed of walking, muscle strength, fitness, endurance, balance, stability and reduction in overweight that also occur with Nordic Walking. These factors will also help prevent dreaded falls and fractures - a curse in the elderly.
Certainly many of the ESRA people who started Nordic Walking have told us the same stories as you read here.
Dr Donald Silverberg can be contacted at 09 866 5715 or 052 933 0039, or by email email@example.com
Alex Prejserowicz, a Nordic Walking trainer, can be contacted at 054 207 1465.