Arms (Part 3) – Nordic walking top tips for healthy arms and shoulders

Nordic walking is amazing for your upper arms and shoulders. It tones and strengthens them and keeps your shoulder joint mobile. Regular walking only works your lower body, from the waist down, but Nordic walking targets your whole body – using 90% of your muscles if you do it correctly – and is the outdoor equivalent of a cross-trainer. This is especially handy if you like walking but don’t like the gym. Here’s some tips for maximising your arm and shoulder benefits Nordic walking:

  1. Your shoulders need to be wide for your arms to swing freely. Lift your chest and roll your shoulders back and down, keeping them relaxed.
  2. Your arm swing should come from your shoulder first, with a soft bend from your elbow second. It’s a pendulum movement and should feel natural and comfortable. Click here to watch my video on walking action and arm swing.
  3. The fuller your arm swing the greater your arm tone and shoulder movement, so extend your backswing behind your hip if you can. It takes time to build enough arm strength to do this. Single arm polling (using just one pole whilst carrying the other) and double arm polling (both arms together) are excellent for arm tone and shoulder mobility. 
  4. Don’t swing your arms across the vertical mid-line of your body.

Warm-ups and stretches

Adding a few targeted warm-ups and stretches can make an even bigger difference to your arm and shoulder health. I’ve quite a few in my book Let’s Walk Nordic. Possibly the one that delivers the most is the Kayaking exercise. It’s so simple and is especially great for your shoulders. Simply hold your poles horizontally with your hands nice and wide and begin to move your poles as though you were paddling (or kayaking) down a river. You can go forwards and backwards, and the bigger your action the greater the benefit.