How to go up or downhill in Nordic walking

Add uphill and downhill stretches to your Nordic walking session and you will reap the rewards. It will give more pleasure and variety to your walks, but will also tone your body more intensely. Here are some Nordic walking techniques for going up and downhill without difficulty, and especially without risk of injury!

Depending on the positive or negative differences in level, using your Nordic walking poles is different to using them on level ground. The physical effort of walking uphill is much greater, so the right movements must be mastered in order to ensure that you do not strain your joints. Walking downhill, Nordic walking poles no longer help to propel you forwards but help to slow you down and stop you from falling!


The correct way to walk uphill in Nordic walking

You will feel the muscles in your arms working much harder when walking uphill! Pushing the poles with your arms, which complements and aids the work done by your legs, is essential if you want the poles to help you to go upwards.

To push yourself upwards, it is recommended to push the poles into the ground close to your heels.. This makes it easier to transfer the maximum amount of weight onto the poles to aid your ascension!

The poles will also act as stabilisers, and using them correctly when walking uphill allows you to continue the full unrolling of the foot, from your heel to the forwards propulsion off your big toe.

• Worth knowing: if the hill is very steep to climb, 3 points of contact are better than 2! It is also possible to push both poles into the ground at the same time to propel yourself upwards to combine the force of your two arms, thus helping you to ascend easier.

The correct way to go downhill in Nordic walking

When you are going downhill in Nordic walking, take smaller steps so that you do not descend too quickly and therefore limit your risk of falling. If you walk with large strides, your momentum will propel you forwards more quickly, and your joints will also come under much more pressure than with smaller steps.

When going downhill, poles play a role of braking rather than propulsion. To use them correctly when going downhill and thus prevent yourself from going too fast, you should lean slightly backwards (making sure you keep your back straight) to ensure your weight bears down on the poles.

Going downhill, the more weight you transfer to the poles, the better it will be for your joints. The steeper the descent, the more you will have to bend your knees. Imagine that you are adopting a sitting down position to lower your centre of gravity.

• Worth knowing:  if the descent is too steep, you can plant both poles at the same time, just as you would when going uphill. But here, the poles should be leant forwards to slow down your descent and prevent you from taking a nasty fall!

Now you know more about the techniques of Nordic walking for ascending or descending an incline. Whether the incline is slight or steep, don't forget that using these techniques in your walking is the best way to accentuate the muscle and cardio workout while you are Nordic walking. So simply grab your poles and try out these techniques!