It is estimated that as many as 80% of all Americans have experienced or will experience chronic lower back pain at some point during their lives, and as you might imagine, this leads to a staggering cost in the various forms of in-home healthcare, clinical treatment, and hospitalization, which are indicated as a means of reducing discomfort associated with the condition.
Oddly enough, one of the very best ways of avoiding lower back pain, and of mitigating its impact once back pain has set in, is one which costs nothing at all – regular walking. People of any age and almost any physical condition are still able to walk and get all the muscles, bones, and joints in motion which can affect the lower back. Being sedentary on the other hand is one of the greatest contributors to the onset of lower back pain, and one of the things that cause it to worsen over a period of time.
Why Nordic Walking Poles?
So what’s the connection between lower back pain, walking, and Nordic walking poles? There are certain advantages derived from the use of Nordic walking poles which can be of considerable value to all users, regardless of the age group which they belong to. Using Nordic walking poles has been shown to distribute weight evenly throughout the arms and chest area, to increase the balance and stability of the walker, and to decrease loading of the lower limbs as well as the spine. For real exercise enthusiasts, the poles can even be used to burn calories and lose weight.
A study published in October of 2016 in the International Journal of Exercise Science sought to determine whether regular use of these walking poles would lower the discomfort experienced by people suffering from chronic lower back pain and whether it increased the heart rate of subjects sufficiently to derive a cardio benefit from the exercise. For the purposes of the study, participants were not required to maintain any pre-set speed and were allowed to proceed through a walking course at their own pace.
For those unfamiliar with their usage, Nordic walking poles encourage the walker to swing the arms forward and backward, incorporating chest movements to support this motion, and simultaneously relieving some of the burden of weight during the walking exercise. Some of the body weight which would normally be exerted downward and on to the lower spine is thus distributed to the walking poles, lowering pressure and attendant discomfort in the lower back area.
The study concluded that there is only a slight increase in the heart rate for those walking with Nordic poles as opposed to those walking without them, but there was a definite decrease in pain reported by walkers using the Nordic poles, relative to their pole-less counterparts. The main benefit, of course, is to get someone walking who might otherwise be resigned to a more sedentary lifestyle, but the Nordic walking poles do make any lower back pain more tolerable for the walker. This can be a huge benefit to someone who has been avoiding exercise on the grounds that it would worsen any back pain already being felt and could, in fact, amount to something like a breakthrough.
How are Nordic Walking Poles Used?
Nordic walking poles are designed for the express purpose of achieving a much better workout, without having to exert yourself any harder. Using the same motion that cross-country skiers use, Nordic walkers swing their poles out in front to match each step taken forward. This motion works the chest, arms, shoulders, and back muscles, going through a full range of motion and stretching all those muscles to prevent them from tightening up.
No matter what kind of surface the walker may be going over, a great deal of stability and balance is provided, and this can be extremely important to senior citizen walkers, or those who are somewhat unsteady in their movements. Another big benefit provided is that of relieving stress on the knees, ankles, joints, and lower back, so that anyone who has some kind of issue in any of these areas can walk more comfortably, without causing any further discomfort to troubled areas.
Nordic Walking Poles as a Holiday Gift
When you give the gift of Nordic walking poles to a senior, or to someone who is experiencing lower back pain, knee pain, or ankle pain, they will be happy to learn that these poles will help them to stay active and enjoy a very worthwhile period of exercise, without exacerbating any physical issues they may be going through.
For people who enjoy exercising but have been afraid to continue it because of some kind of pains they’re dealing with, Nordic poles might just be the perfect gift for the holidays. It will bring a smile to someone’s face when you explain to them that these poles will enable them to walk lighter, stay more balanced, and reduce stress on the knees and lower back – all while getting a very healthy period of exercise.