Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Arm / Leg Co-ordination
When you are getting started with Nordic Walking it is not uncommon to experience an issue with arm and leg co-ordination - You know the feeling ? The arms and legs just don't feel in sync with each other ?
Note: This can be more of a problem for people who have not been trained by an instructor, as an instructor will always help resolve this problem.
In correct Nordic Walking technique the arms and legs work in opposition with each other, so as the right arm comes forward so does the left leg and vice-versa. But it can so easily go wrong and all of a sudden the right arm and right leg are coming forward together, followed by the left arm and left leg and you just know that you must be doing something wrong !
Note: If you have ever been in the military you may have experienced or been aware of this problem with arm / leg co-ordination when learning to march.
Here's a little tip for instructors: On your instructor training couse you may have been taught that before you start your clients walking with their poles, first explain to them that the arms and legs work in opposition. I don't do this because it can actually create the problem; here's what I do instead:
I get my clients strapped into their poles and ask them to start walking, using the 'drag' technique. I just ask them to walk like they would normally walk and if they feel comfortable to let their arms swing naturally. For most clients this is all it takes and they walk correctly in opposition from the off.
A little later in the session I will point out 'opposition' and re-assure them that they have been doing it quite naturally all along.
If you are not an instuctor and 'opposition' is a problem for you then here's what to do:
- Strap yourself into your poles and start walking, whilst letting your poles drag along behind you
- If / when you feel comfortable let your arms swing naturally
- If it goes wrong, stop swinging and just drag again until you are ready for another try
- As it starts coming together increase your arm swing until ideally you have a full arm swing from the shoulder with the elbow slightly soft (eg slightly flexed).
If you are still struggling STOP and start again, this time just let your arms swing a little. Once it starts coming together do not be in a hurry to increase your arm swing. Give your brain time to get used to this pattern. Above all relax and don't think about it. Go for a stroll and let it come naturally. Start increasing your arm swing only when you start feeling more confident.
Note: Until you have mastered 'opposition' and feel comfortable with it, do not attempt the full technique - There's no hurry, the last thing you want to do is re-inforce bad technique ! There is no point in going on to the next stage - the 'plant'... until you have first mastered 'opposition'.