Remote Nordic Walking Lesson 20 - Grip & Release

Mary Tweed
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Many of my clients naturally relax their grip on their pole as they walk along, and yet when I teach this technique point and the class is consciously gripping and releasing, they find it a struggle.  I really want you to think of this as simply softening your grip on the pole as you extend backwards.  For those who find it easy, feel free to go ahead and celebrate the full jazz hands method with your fingers pointing down the shaft towards the ground.

There are two main reasons why the grip and release is so beneficial.  Firstly, opening and closing your fist creates a pumping action, which boosts circulation and helps blood flow around your body.  In the Winter, this is useful for preventing numb fingertips, and in the Summer, it can stop blood pooling in the extremities and leading to 'sausage fingers.'  Secondly, contracting and releasing the muscles of the hand (and setting off a chain reaction in the muscles all the way up to your shoulder and neck) helps release tension from the body.  It is the same principal behind people in desk bound jobs using an executive stress toy to relieve stress.

The two best visualisations to help you with grip and release are as follows:

  • Rope Bridge - imagine you are walking along a wobbly rope bridge over a high ravine.  Reach forward and grip onto the side rope as you pull yourself forward and keep holding until your arm is extended behind, but relax your hold before swinging your arm forward again.
  • Relay Race - cast your mind back a few years to your school sports day.  Stand with your arm extended and your palm open, waiting to receive the relay baton.  As it is placed into your hand, your fingers close around it at the same time as you power your arm forward to help you sprint away down the track!

Play around with those and see if either of them help you to master the grip and release.  Failing that, you could always visualise milking a cow!

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These workouts have been designed for clients of Nordic Walking East Anglia, who have all been taught the correct Nordic Walking technique by a qualified British Nordic Walking Instructor.  They have also been shown how to perform these exercises in face to face lessons; this film is merely a prompt. Individuals participate in these exercises at their own risk and must ensure they have adequate and non-slip floor space in which to participate and agree that they have no health concerns that prevent them from taking part.  These exercises are designed to be carried out outside, however, if individuals perform the warm-up and cool-down sessions indoors there is a danger of collision with or damage to furniture, light fittings, etc. as well as potential for injury.

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