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Autumn 2007 edition

Hi [Name],

What's happening in pole walking ...

Here in Australia -

In 2007, Pole walking has really found its legs within the Australian community, and is making great strides throughout our great land.

To date, the PoleAbout International Network has trained in excess of 150 professionals throughout many different regions within Australia, with many more currently in training. Perth and various towns throughout Western Australia have been very keep to "strut their stuff" on poles. The Victorian government has just awarded grant funding for another 12 pole walking groups to be established in 2007 through its "Go for your Life" program. Recently, the Queensland government has sent Mike "Walking Wizard" Gates out and about again - into the regions of Bundaberg and Gin Gin to show the local communities the many benefits of walking with poles.

In the coming months, PoleAbout is going WalkAbout all over the country, visiting rural and regional Australia plus some capital cities. If you or anyone you know may be interested in establishing a Pole Walking group or you're wanting to try the sport in your local area, this is a good time to notify Mike of your interest, as he may be able to schedule in your location and do a 'Community Come 'n Try' clinic on the poles – all you have to do is register your interest and bring along some friends (offer subject to minimum numbers).

Around the globe -

Pole Walking a.k.a. Nordic Walking is still gathering good momentum in many countries across mainland Europe, and has growing participation in North America and Canada. The sport has even taken its first steps into China!

As we become very much a 'one world' society with respect to travel and communication, we often hear people comment, "I was in Italy the other week and I saw these people walking with poles", or "I was over in the UK and I was amazed at the number of people out and about on poles".

Stay tuned in future issues, as we will keep you all posted on the sport's incredible progress.

Would you like 'happy' feet?

Having 'happy' feet is a major step on the pathway to enjoying your Pole Walking. Let's start with the basic needs to keep your feet happy:

1 – The sock factor, or what to look for in a sock:

  • Never go without socks, as you are sure to attract blisters, bacteria and foot odour (yuk!);
  • Select socks which are thick, but not too thick;
  • The best socks are well-padded around the heel and toe area;
  • Synthetic fibres have the greatest ability to wick away moisture, but be careful if your skin has an allergic reaction to these fibres;
  • Natural fibres like cotton or wool may feel great, but lose shape quickly and are not good when dealing with the moisture;
  • Socks should never bunch around the toes, and once they lose their shape you should bin them, as they can cause blisters;
  • Never wear socks that are too small, as constriction of the toes will occur, causing discomfort.

2 – If the shoe fits...

  • When shopping for shoes, it is a good idea to try them on in the afternoon, when your feet are swollen;
  • The shoe should feel comfortable, non-restrictive and, when standing, there should be a thumb thickness between the top of your big toe and the tip of the shoe;
  • The shoe should be supportive but flexible, well-padded and breathe well;
  • Bear in mind that many sports stars are paid to promote various shoe brands. This does not necessarily mean they are great shoes, it just means the star is being paid 'truck loads' of money to brand the shoe!

See our next issue for more about what makes up a good shoe.

Nordic walking vs. Pole Walking

We're often asked, "What is the difference between Pole Walking and Nordic walking?"

The simple answer is: the name.

When the sport of Pole Walking began in Finland, it was called 'sauva kavely', which translates to 'Pole Walking' in English. Some years later, certain product manufacturers interpreted the name as 'nordic walking' for marketing purposes. Basically, they felt the new name would sell more poles. Therefore nordic walking is more of a brand name, not the name of the sport.

The confusion is much like soccer vs. football. The original ball game was football, but, over the years, it has been interpreted as 'soccer' by some.

A simpler way to put it is – you go and pick up your 'poles' and go for a walk. It sounds really strange to go and pick up your 'nordics' to go walking.

Also the Nordic walking movements still focus very much from the bio-mechanics of the snow skiing action. Whereas Pole Walking's focus is on the bio-mechanics of the walking action, which allows for a more natural rhythmic movement. We all know how to walk - not all of us know how to snow ski….

Anyway, we will let the people decide what they wish to call it. The most important thing is to keep on keeping on your poles so you can power through life!

Fuel for Pole Walking

If you want to operate like a high performance machine, you must fuel yourself like a high performance machine.

Often under-consumed, you MUST drink plenty of water during activity, especially in the warmer, more humid climates. Just because you're not saturated in sweat doesn't mean you're not discreetly losing body fluid, and once your mouth is dry, it's all too late – your body is already in a state of dehydration.

Small amounts of water should be consumed frequently from a water bottle held in a bum bag. This is a great idea in order to allow you to enjoy your walk.

It is always a good idea to have eaten well in advance, i.e. at least 1 hour prior to your pole walk. If your walk goes for longer than 2.5 hours, you need to re-fuel with a light snack such as a banana or a jam/peanut butter sandwich.

More interesting Fuel Facts coming up in the next issue.

Frequently Asked Questions - Answered by the 'Walking Wizard'

1. Will this be another fitness fad or gimmick that is here today and gone tomorrow?

For over forty years Pole Walking has most commonly be practiced in Finland as the summer fitness conditioning for cross-country skiers, even before this, sports colleges and health care establishments have for a long time considered Pole walking as a form of health/fitness & rehab treatment.

Now this activity is spreading across the globe and is being adopted by millions of people as their preferred method of physical activity and growing from strength to strength in many arenas from rehabilitation to fitness, recreational and now in some countries as a sport.

So Pole Walking has stood the test of time and is still growing.

2. Am I too old to do Pole Walking? I'm nearly 80 years old!

We have people in their late eighties that have experienced the benefits of Pole Walking as it appeals to your age group. Also, it gives you a sense of security and confidence because you feel more balanced and stable on four feet instead of your normal two feet.

And by improving ones balance and stability you enhance your chances of greater mobility. So if you are still able to walk at even a very slow pace try Pole walking and experience the difference.

3. Walking faster or jogging, will that give me the same results?

To walk faster or jog may not always be the best outcome. It will be governed by individual's motivational limits and enjoyment levels and also increases significantly the amount of stress put on the body which may likely cause injury and in turn reduces the enjoyment factor.

Scientific studies show that using poles at a perceived lessor rate of effort or at a slower speed can achieve similar outcomes.

4. How do I learn Pole Walking if I don't have a qualified coach in my area?

The greatest thing about Pole Walking is it's a very natural functional friendly movement to the human body. It is easy to learn and rarely forgotten, this is why the at home education video/DVD "Getting started with Pole Walking" is such great resource to learn from if you don't have a current P.I.N certified coach/ Leader in your area.

5. Do I have to join a club?

Our clubs offer a safe, supportive environment with the added benefit of extra guidance and motivation in a fun and social atmosphere. But you may wish to walk alone or find a walk buddy or a group of friends and enjoy the convenience of Pole walking around your local neighbourhood at a time that suits your lifestyle.

The most important thing is what best suits your needs and you enjoy the great benefits of Pole walking like so many hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are experiencing today. So why not be one of them?

6. Why can't I just use my ski or trekking poles or broom handles?

Trekking and ski poles have been designed specifically for their sport just like Walking Poles have been. The Walking Poles have a very unique design in the strap to allow the user to obtain maximum push off from the strap without having to grip the handle of the pole to firmly.

And the handle of the pole is more ergonomically designed to allow for a more ease of grip whilst pole walking. Plus the spike tip has been designed to allow for maximum grip in the ground whilst completing the pole push off at the end of the Pole walking action.

The pole shafts are made of a very durable and lightweight composite material with good flexibility and shock absorbing capabilities for repetitive motion which is performed during Pole Walking.

7. I suffer with knee injuries from running; can I really keep fit by walking with poles?

Yes! You no longer have to pound the footpaths and wear out your joints to get a good cardio-vascular workout. Whilst running you are only using your lower body muscles and your upper body mass is just going along for the ride not really doing any work. But when you utilise the poles whilst walking you activate all the upper body muscle mass so now 90% of your muscles are working at the same time, which in turn creates a greater training effect on your body with similar outcomes with less joint impact.

Let me explain how this happens, by adding the poles to your walk you are activating the large upper body muscles that are not used whilst running, in turn these large upper body muscles need more fuel which is transported by fresh oxygenated blood to these muscles to make them function.

So the physiological responses to achieve this from your body is, significantly increased oxygen uptake, elevation of your heart rate to a similar effective training zone as if you were jogging and a greater caloric expenditure and the benefits of enhance muscle endurance for a total body workout.

Note:

If you have a question that needs to be clarified, the 'Walking Wizard' wishes to encourage any of you to just drop him an email: info@poleabout.com.au and he will endeavour to answer your question in the next issue.

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