NORDIC WALKING for LYMPHOEDEMA: You may have noticed... - LSN

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You may have noticed that I like Nordic Walking and believe it is a great form of exercise for all ages and fitness levels. I was taught by an amazing woman, Sarah Walters, who lived with cystic fibrosis for almost 60 yrs. Her enthusiasm inspired me and I want to pass it's why....

If you are using walking as your daily activity during this time of social isolation and lockdown, why not buy some walking poles (on line) and start `pole walking'? It's a great way to increase your cardiovascular effort, which will improve your lung capacity and heart rate. AT the same time it improves posture, joint mobility and muscle strength... not only of your legs, but also your spine, shoulders and arms.

The technique is simple, easy to learn, and although better with an instructor there are some great videos online from which you will get the general gist of the technique.

The trick is to hold your poles at arms length, arms relaxed, poles facing back. As you move forward, looking straight ahead, shoulders relaxed, you gently push the foot of your pole into the ground. This gives forward momentum. As you relax into a rhythm of walking you will find you can go faster without a huge change in effort.

The other part of the technique is that as you walk forward, pushing down into the pole, you lightly grip the handpiece, then release as you bring your pole forward.

It is this grip and release technique which can benefit people with arm/ hand swelling, because it engages the forearm muscle pump.Even more effective because you ill be wearing your usual compression garments.

A Word about POLES...

There are many different types of poles. The most commonly seen are TREKKING POLES. These are usually telescopic. The are really designed for people walking on narrow cross country/fell paths as a stability aid. Most people use them by placing them ahead of their stride. In fact this is less stable, less reliable and can cause shoulder/arm/hand/back strain.

If you have this type, try using them in the Nordic, back facing position, but remember if they are telescopic, avoid putting too much pressure on them as they sometimes collapse down.

Personally I have found GELERT fix height Nordic Poles, best. They are light weight, hand hand grips and really good ferules on the foot. If walking on muddy ground you can remove the ferule and the spike will give better purchase.

Fixed height means they are right for me and are sturdy enough to lean back into when going down a slope.

Some makes have compasses, lights and other accessories on them.


Ok so not everyone wants to splash out on new equipment. So why not simply try the technique when you go out for your usual walk...... but without poles...

Just swing your arms a little by your side, keeping back straight, looking forward and relaxing the shoulders. Lightly close and open your hands as you walk.

Add in a bit more swing, bending your arms at the elbow as you go....

This will all increase your cardiovascular effort, improve your posture and strengthen your back, limbs and core....... what's not to like?

6 Replies

Thanks buddlia

I'm quite tempted to get some nordic poles. I've had LE in my right foot for about 18 months and it's been very upsetting how much this has impacted on my physical activities. Maybe nordic poles will enable me to walk further by taking pressure off my foot?

And maybe I can use them to prop myself up whilst waggling my foot to alleviate the discomfort caused by standing in the long queues outside the supermarket during the current corona crisis!

in reply to Perido

Hi Perido, they certainly can help and give you a better sense f stability and confidence. After Covid 19 is over, I'd suggest trying to find a Nordic Walk instructor nearby... it's really good to get the correct technique, even though a lots of videos online give a good idea. It's worth checking on the Nordic walk sites for advice re how to choose the pole that suits you.... but don't feel you have to spend loads ... mine were only about £30. All the best. x

Thank you for this information. I have lymphedema in my chest and left arm. This sounds like a great idea.

in reply to fchrist

Hi fchrist. I hope you get chance to try it out. It's good fun to do and should help with your lymphoedema alongside your other self care strategies. Hope you get to love it like I do !

Thanks Buddlia,

That is very helpful.

I have been Nordic walking with a lovely group from MAGGIES ,but swhen we moved home,I couldn’t continue going out with them.

We did use the telescopic ones as they were shared between various groups and were adjusted to suit each person.

I was seriously thinking of buying my own as it is so good for my leg lymphodema.

Best wishes to you and keep safe.

Hi Charlotte, that's brilliant to hear that you found Nordic walking really helpful for your lymphoedema. I hope you can find a group nearby once COVID 19 has retreated. Telescopic poles can be great.... but I have the misfortune of using some on holiday once... as they're easier to pack... and 1 suddenly went short on me(collapsed down) while walking. But I'm sure there are really good makes which are far more stable and reliable. It's more personal preference. Good Luck though. BTW, I'm using mine to do 30 min walks around a small quadrangle near my home, so even though I'm not going a distance from home I'm getting some distance covered by doing circuits!

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