Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Urban Poling

I spend a lot of mental energy raging against all kinds of things: unfairness in the world, sexism, small mindedness, "first past the post", religious fundamentalism, the nightmare on ELMM street, name it. Actually, I spend way too much time on such things.

But in this post, I shall break with my usual habit and talk about something fun and healthy and more importantly something that I, despite my fragile body, seem to be able to do--hopefully without making anything far, so good.

And what is this marvel of healthy movement that has not made my knee puff up, my sciatica start sending out signals down my leg, my hip freeze and/or my mid-back whimper with pain (yes, these are all things I deal with almost every day)?

Urban poling. Also known as "nordic walking".

The best way to describe urban poling is cross-country skiing without the skis or the snow, in other words, walking down the street with poles.

Here's a video to give you an idea of what urban poling is all about:

A much longer version of this video actually came with my poles. I don't want to be a salesperson for this particular brand of pole. I'm sure they're all just fine, but I'm posting the video because it shows urban poling in action.

So what would a "normal" person feel after 45 minutes or so of poling?

  • your heartrate would be right up there
  • you'd be sweaty
  • you might be a bit out of breath
  • you'd probably feel like you'd been out jogging (not that I can do that, so it's just a suspicion on my part)
And all this without sore joints. A blessing indeed.

My poles cost me about $100. You could probably find a used pair on Craig's List or e-bay for less. All in all, they're a pretty cheap way to get moving without getting your body totally out of joint.

I'd love to hear if anyone has tried them and what they think!


  1. I'm so happy for you to have discovered a fun activity that takes you outdoors and makes you feel alive and more energetic!!! YAY!

    Most of the time, walking does that for me.

    Because of severe osteoarthritis of both basal thumb joints, I am unable to grip in the position required by poling (even 2.5 months post-op joint reconstruction/replacement in one hand...utilizing a tendon from my arm.) The pain and swelling in my post-op hand, however, is finally less severe than that in my other (which will go under the knife, I hope, within a couple of months.)

    All this is somewhat cruelly ironic because one of my favorite sports in past decades (before I became too ungainly out of shape, possibly related to accompanying obesity) was cross country skiing, which I was even able to do in my own neighborhood many winters. Good times!

    I have always tried to protect my knees because I had many older friends and family members who have needed knee joint surgery, and knee replacements, and I've seldom seen very good long-term results from those, overall (I'm sure there are many exceptions.)

    The carpalmetacarpal thumb joint OA is a considered a hereditary condition, which my surgeon says is nearly 20 times more prevelant among women (at least in his practice), and therefore it has been hypothesized that the disease is worsened by female hormones such as estrogen. Who knows. Mine started about 15 years ago, in my left hand when I was peeling bushels of apples for canning. Then I started to depend more, after that, on my right hand for gripping, and it wasn't long before the cartiledge there was gone too. Sigh. After 3 cortisone injections, there isn't much left to try, except surgery (a recent advancement), and they can't squeeze cortisone fluid in between joints that are bone on bone (squished together, to use the technical term, LOL). So I lived on anti-inflammatory drugs (FUN, haha), and nearly destroyed my stomach lining.

    Ah. Modern medicine...

    Thankfully, walking is still a beautiful option for meditation and exercise. I doubt it has much influence on weight, but then that is NOT why I do it.

    So....Go NewMe! More power to you!

    *insert cheering crowd special effects here*

    I will think of you with a big smile when I'm out walking. I will even chant for you at the crossroads (a sacred place nearby), if you like. :)

  2. Hi Rebecca,

    Chant away! All good thoughts are graciously accepted!

    Sorry to hear about your hands. As even this nice Jewish girl likes to say, we all have our crosses to bear. I'm so glad that you can at least walk.

    About the knees, your comment is a bit scary. I was born with severe knock knees and was pigeon toed. I am convinced that my back problems can be traced back to the treatment I underwent to correct the pigeon-toed walking. Don't you just love medicine? Whatever happened to "first do no harm"? The congenital misalignment of the knees has of course led to osteoarthritis and uneven wear of the cartilage. I am not thrilled about a knee replacement, but there's nothing I can do to stop the deterioration. I'll make the decision whether or not to go for surgery when I get the date.

  3. ha - love the poles! but before I invest in some, I may try it out w/our old Cub Scout walking staffs ;-)
    I recently bought myself another copy of the old Richard Hittleman "28 Day Yoga Program"; I went through his program as a teenager so this will definitely be nostalgia time...

  4. I am so glad you can do something that doesn't place any stress on your body!

    It does look like fun!

  5. I had to watch another video after the first one to get a better idea exactly what that was supposed to be doing for you. If it works GREAT! :) I'd be interested in giving it a go. When I'm trying to speed walk I get everything moving and roll my feet. This maybe something similar. Another thought came to my mind as these poles look like they would work as a great self defense weapon, something I could use. :) Glad you found something you can do!