As some of you will know, I managed to dislocate my shoulder during a recent moles ride over on Pitch Hill (Two-Headed Dog since you ask).
With the weather being so good I have been tempted to try one arm/hand cycling. The only thing preventing me is the certain knowledge that I would quickly progress to busting the other shoulder if I did. This enforced layoff away from the bike while I recover has led me to try the darkest side of all – walking.
Not wanting my fitness to regress completely I have been heading out on the trails… to walk – more specifically Nordic walking. My wife is a recent convert having been sold on the reputed benefits that you use 80% of your muscles and as you tend to stride out more it gives a better workout.
However the real reason she is a devotee is that she suffers from back and pelvis pain and has done for many years but since she has been Nordic walking she has been pretty much pain free (the movement must be stretching her in a good way). I was more sceptical thinking the whole pole thing just looked a bit too ‘keen’.
Anyway I got out my ski pole (!) and initially headed out with a sling and one pole. The one pole provided a lot of stability and more than compensated for the loss of balance from having only one good arm.
In the last few weeks I have been out with both poles as my shoulder recovers, doing the full Nordic thing and I’ve been really surprised by how much of different experience Nordic Walking is. The shoulder and arms get a good workout taking about 20% of the load but also the abdomen as you swing the poles; you also walk at a faster pace to keep the rhythm and so you walk further.
The other big difference is that it is like having four wheel drive as there are always 2 contact points with the ground so there is much more stability and again this allows you to stride out faster.
But the best thing is that by walking on the trails I normally ride I get a completely different perspective and see things that you will just never notice on the bike, mostly because I am normally head down sucking oxygen most of the time.
Sadly for the kit junkies among us you don’t need much gear – ski poles work fine and even decent specialist Nordic poles can be had for less than £50.
If you are recuperating away from the bike then give it a go. It is no substitute for being out on the bike but you see and appreciate old trails in a new light, notice things you don’t when you cycling and still get a decent workout.
Yes walkers probably do think you look a bit of a tool but on the plus side they still dislike me less than when I’m on the bike.