How To Choose And Use Nordic Walking Shoes

nordic walking

As in any form of exercise, you need proper footwear to enjoy activity, perform well, and prevent injuries. Gravity and motion place an enormous amount of stress on your feet. Many people trust appearances to convey the lifespan of their shoes, but they can be misleading because the shoes’ support and capacity for shock absorption decline long before their aesthetics do. As a general rule, athletic shoes significantly lose their ability to provide support and absorb shock after 500 miles (805 km). At this rate, if you walk approximately 3 miles (5 km) per day, three to four days a week, you will need a new pair of shoes every year. Since athletic shoes provide the foundation for all of your biomechanical movements and absorb the forces of gravity, they are not an accessory you should skimp on. There’s nothing like a new pair of shoes to put a spring in your step and give you a renewed sense of energy, so do the right thing and protect your feet with high-quality shoes. Until recently, shoes specifically made for Nordic walking did not exist in the United States. A few shoe manufacturers, such as SpringBoost, Reebok, and Lowa, make models for Nordic walking that range in price from $70 to $200. The general design focuses on support in the heel and flexibility in the front. Some models have additional cushion and rugged outer soles for trail walking. Some are even waterproof. One particular model has a unique design that places the heel below the front of the foot for dorsiflexion (figure 2.6). The manufacturer purports that this shoe improves posture, balance, strength, and explosiveness. To choose the best shoe for you, determine the terrain and weather patterns of your walking area. For example, if you will be walking in wet weather, you should consider a waterproof shoe. If you plan to Nordic walk on dirt trails or uneven surfaces, you may want to select a shoe of a darker color that has deeper and stickier soles. If you cannot find your shoe of choice at your local store, check  the manufacturer’s Web site.

(Figure 2.6 Nordic walking shoes are designed to aid forward propulsion when Nordic walking.)

If you cannot find a shoe that is specially designed for Nordic walking, you can buy another style that enhances your activity. Since Nordic walking is biomechanically different from running, a running shoe is not your best bet. If you are planning to walk predominantly on paved streets and sidewalks, choose a standard walking shoe. However, if you wish to Nordic  walk on dirt trails, select a hiking shoe with a rubber sole. A good athletic walking shoe has many of the design characteristics of a Nordic walking shoe, including the following:
 • Heel support and cushion. Unlike runners, walkers first make ground contact with their heels. Therefore, the heel of the shoe should have sufficient padding to absorb the force and a low profile to enhance stability.
 • Flexible forefront. During push-off, walkers flex their toes twice as much as runners do. The front of the shoe must be flexible.
 • Spacious toe box. The front of the shoe should also be wide to accommodate the spread of the toes during the forceful push-off.
Ultimately, individual preference is the final deciding factor. Since every walker has unique anatomical and biomechanical characteristics, shoe selection is personal. Try on and test out as many pairs as you possibly can to make a good decision. For a custom fit, you may also want to purchase supportive insoles or see a podiatrist. Superfeet insoles are tailored for walking shoes to stabilize the foot, assist with temperature control, provide cushioning, and minimize pain. Heel pain and plantar fasciitis may develop with inadequate support, excessive activity, or even a change in activity. Again, you must have shoes that fit properly and support your feet in order to enjoy the exercise and prevent injury. Although most soft-soled shoes don’t require as much time to break in, you should incorporate your new shoes into your routine slowly rather than wearing them for the first time on a 10-mile (16-km) walk. The hot spots and undue pain which may ensue are every athlete’s nemesis.

Apparel 
Although the fresh air, peaceful surroundings, and natural beauty you encounter in outdoor workouts are wonderful, the exposure to the elements can create extra demands on your body. Before venturing outdoors, you must plan ahead for safety by wearing appropriate clothing and bringing necessary supplies. Once you have selected proper shoes, you should next look for a good pair of socks. Since your feet sweat, keeping them dry is of paramount importance for comfort and for minimizing hot spots and blisters. Brands of wool socks such as SmartWool provide exceptional comfort, wick moisture away from the skin, and are not itchy. Socks made of polyester and nylon, such as Thorlos, have similar wicking benefits. In addition to keeping your feet dry, these socks typically feature reinforced padding in the heel, arch, or ball of the foot for extra comfort. 
Once you have taken care of your feet, turn your attention to your clothing.Selecting proper clothing is critical, particularly when exercising in environments with extreme temperatures and humidity. Your body moderates temperature with sweat, which cools you off as it evaporates. When buying exercise clothing that you wear next to your skin, choose items made from material that moves sweat away from the body so it can evaporate more quickly. Clothing technology has advanced in recent years, providing plenty of options for the outdoor exerciser. When selecting athletic clothing, choose items without seams that may cause discomfort or chafing. Fabrics that breathe, wick moisture, and insulate the body are key for comfort and performance. Fabric such as Coolmax move moisture away from the skin at twice the speed of cotton, which keeps body temperature constant whether it is hot or cold outside. Newer polyester blends incorporate silver dioxide, which has antibacterial properties, and titanium oxide, which protects against UVA and UVB radiation into the fabric. Compression wear, or tight-fitting pieces for the upper and lower body, may enhance performance by supporting and aligning the muscles, which increases oxygenation, circulation, and power and minimizes muscle soreness.
If you plan to walk in wind or rain, you should wear a second layer of clothing. Pants and jackets that are lightweight and either water resistant or waterproof allow you to maintain your body temperature in spite of the elements. Look for materials that let your skin breathe and keep moisture away from the body. Clothing that is not permeable to moisture traps your sweat next to the skin, causing you to overheat.
Newer designs can also protect you from insects. Most stores that provide gear for hiking and running will stock clothing that works well for Nordic walking.
If you plan to walk when the conditions are overcast, warm, or hot, wear a hat with a wide brim to regulate your body temperature and protect your head, neck, and face from sun damage. When the weather is cold, choose tight caps that hold heat in or headbands that cover your ears.
Finally, you may want to protect your hands with gloves regardless of the weather. Even in warm weather, the padding of fingerless gloves provides additional comfort with the pole strap (figure 2.7). Full-length gloves made from materials that insulate and breathe can provide comfort in cold weather.
(Figure 2.7 Nordic walking gloves fit nicely in most  strap systems.) 

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How To Choose And Use Nordic Walking Shoes How To Choose And Use Nordic Walking Shoes Reviewed by abdelali sbik on 08:21 Rating: 5

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