Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Pole Walking For Parkinson’s

Five Stages Of Parkinsons

Pole walking and Parkinson’s
  • Unilateral involvement only, usually with minimal or no functional impairment.
  • Bilateral or midline involvement, without impairment of balance.
  • First signs of impaired righting reflexes.
  • Fully developed, severely disabling disease the patient is still able to walk and stand unassisted but is markedly incapacitated.
  • Confinement to bed or wheelchair unless aided.

Video #: Punch The Sky

Starting Position: Hold the poles in the middle so both ends are off the ground. Your arms are straight and down by your side. Next, bend your elbows and bring the poles up to your shoulders so they’re parallel to the ground.

The Pattern: Punch one arm up towards the sky, straightening your elbow as much as possible. At the same time, lift your opposite knee up as if you’re marching. Bring your arm and leg back to the starting point. Repeat on the opposite side.

Each Step: Make these BIG movements and STRETCH each joint.

How Does It Help

Walking in itself is great for your overall health, improving your bodys use of the heart and lungs, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and helping blood sugar regulation. Nordic walking in particular can help you maintain a better posture and keep you more upright. At the same time, taking longer strides can gently stretch your limbs and keep your body rotated, which can help you loosen up and improve your coordination. If you feel that you tend to walk slower and take smaller steps, Nordic walking creates a steady beat to improve your pace. It can also make exercise fun and social when done in a group.

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It’s Safer The Regular Walking

While exercise is incredibly important for seniors and those with Parkinson’s – finding an exercise that is effective and provides a good workout of the body, while also being safe, can be tricky.

One of the daily dangers that come with Parkinson’s disease is the chances of tripping or falling due to decreased balance and coordination. So it is doubly important for Parkinson’s patients to engage in exercise that does not increase this risk.

The great news is that Nordic walking is a form of exercise that actually the risk of falls. Nordic walking helps stability and thanks to the Nordic walking sticks, you have increased support and can walk with more confidence and a lower chance of accidents.

What Is Nordic Walking

Nordic pole walking for parkinson

Nordic walking is a style of walking where you use a specially designed walking pole to help you move forwards. This means that you use your arms as well as your legs and, as the poles propel you, they help you to walk faster and more steadily than you may do normally. When properly used, the poles take the weight off the knees and lower body joints, which can make you feel lighter on your feet.

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Decreased Strain On Your Joints

Another uncomfortable symptom of Parkinson’s disease is that it can create pain within the joints. If this happens, it can be challenging to find a form of exercise that does not aggravate this or feel painful.

Pole walking, however, is one form of exercise that is gentle on the joints. This is because one’s weight is not solely distributed on your legs. Instead, some of it is disbursed into one’s arms that are holding onto the Nordic walking sticks.

This distribution of weight makes it a gentler exercise than walking for one’s joints, which is ideal for some Parkinson’s patients, not to mention seniors in general.

Video #: High Knee March

Starting Position: Same as above.

The Pattern: Same as above, except focus on driving your knee up as high as it will go, as if you’re walking through deep grass or snow. Make your step as high as you can while maintaining your balance.

Each Step: Make sure you have the Pattern down. Press the pole tips firmly into the ground with each step.

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It Exercises Almost All Of Your Muscles

One of the most convenient benefits of Nordic walking is that it activates and exercises 90% of the body’s muscles. This makes pole walking a superior form of exercise to regular walking, which only utilizes about 40% of one’s muscles.

Keeping all of one’s muscles strong is very important for Parkinson’s patients as this will help to ease the severity of some of the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease that make movements difficult.

What Is The Evidence To Support Nordic Walking As Suitable For People Living With Parkinsons

Walking Poles and Parkinson Disease

There been several specific research studies published on Nordic Walking and Parkinson’s. All the results have been promising with significant improvements in different aspects.

  • Significant improvements in quality of life
  • Increase in walking speed .
  • Increased stride length, postural stability and improved gait pattern .
  • Nordic Walking is associated with improvement in cognitive aspects of movement preparation .

Effects of a flexibility and relaxation programme, walking and Nordic walking on Parkinson disease. Reuter et al 2011

This research study involved 90 Parkinson’s patients who were experiencing mild to moderate effect. It aimed to assess the effects of doing regular exercise for people with Parkinson’s and whether Nordic Walking is more effective than normal walking. These patients were randomly allocated into one of 3 training groups:

  • Nordic Walking 3 x 70min sessions a week for 6 months.
  • Walking 3 x 70min sessions a week for 6 months.
  • Flexibility and relaxation exercises 3 x 70min sessions a week for 6 months.

The results showed that all three groups were similar at assessment, and there was a good compliance with all three groups with all patients attending at least 70 of 78 training sessions.


Pain was eased by both the Nordic Walking and walking groups.

Parkinson Diseasespecific Disability

Quality of Life

The Nordic Walking and walking groups felt that their memory had improved and concentration.



Key Points

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+ Health Benefits Gained With Eachstep Of Nordic Pole Walking

Each step provides:

  • Better Posture, Balance and Walking Gait
  • Activates 90% of your body musculature
  • Increases levels of Dopamine, new brain cells, helps self-regulate brain to calm down
  • An Aerobic Resistant/Cross motor exercise generates better Brain Function
  • Reduces 30% stress and pain from back, hips, knees and ankles, improves Endurance
  • Improves Immune, Vascular and Lymphatics
  • Burns 22-47% more Calories than regular walking
  • Strengthens and balances the Para- Spinal Muscles
  • Improves your mood and restful SLEEP

Nordic Pole Walking Provides All Four Types Of Exercises Endurance Strength Balance And Flexibility

Video Courtesy of Celf Creaive Agency

Stages of Walking The typical walk consists of a repeated gait cycle. The cycle itself contains two phases a stance phase and a swing phase: Stance phase: Accounts for 60% of the gait cycle. It can be divided into the heel strike, support, and toe-off phases. Swing phase: Accounts for 40% of the cycle. It can be divided into the leg lift and swing phases. We will now work through each individual stage in turn, discussing them in more detail.

Heel-Strike In the heel-strike stage, the foot hits the ground heel first. Three muscles/muscle sets are involved, each acting at a different joint: Gluteus maximus acts on the hip to decelerate the forward motion of the lower limb. Quadriceps femoris keeps the leg extended at the knee and the thigh flexed at the hip. Anterior compartment of the leg maintains the ankle dorsiflexion, positioning the heel for the strike.

Support After the heel strike stage, the rest of the leading foot hits the ground, and the muscles work to cope with the force passing through the leg. This is known as the support stage. Quadriceps femoris keeps the thigh extended, accepting the weight of the body. Foot inverters and everters contract in a balanced manner to stabilise the foot. Gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and tensor fascia lata abduct the lower limb. Their contraction keeps the pelvis level by counteracting the imbalance created from having most of the body-weight on one leg.

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Parkinsons Benefits I See:

  • Improved arm swing – to the point that family, friends, and colleagues compliment them on how much they’ve noticed!

  • Increased stamina – clients are able to walk 3-5 times longer with less fatigue.

  • Boosted confidence – clients are no longer scared of clipping a toe, tripping, or having their leg give out mid-stride.

  • Eliminates shuffling – clients re-train their brains to take consistent, powerful, long strides.

Nordic Walking To Fight Parkinson’s Disease

Urban Poling ACTIVATOR® Walking Poles

Nordic Walking is proving to be a great gift for individuals suffering from Parkinson disease. The seemingly simple looking activity of walking with Nordic poles is bringing a lot of hope and cheer to people who had compromised with a life of pain and inactivity.

Visually Nordic Walking benefits may seem to be hard to pin down but it is not so in reality. The very act of walking with the active participation of the upper body, confers the kind of benefits on the body, which can matched by only very few exercises.

The combination of Nordic Walking Poles with regular walking produces an effect akin to the movement of a four wheel vehicle. While regular walking entails the use of the legs but keeps the upper body largely under exercised, Nordic walking ensures the active use of all the four limbs of the body. The active use of the whole body results in many health benefits like

  • Improved balance for the body
  • Increased heart rate
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    These Exercises Have Helped With My Sisters Cognitive Issues

    According to the researchers, Nordic walking seems to be an effective, accessible, and safe strategy to help patients with walking difficulties. However, relatively little is understood about the mechanics of how walking with poles might be beneficial.

    Their analysis included 11 Parkinsons patients, six men and five women, with an average age of 65.6 and relatively mild symptoms. For comparison, the study also included nine similarly aged adults without Parkinsons.

    Analyses showed that the Parkinsons patients took markedly shorter steps, both while Nordic walking and while free walking.

    Additionally, when Nordic walking was compared to free walking, the pendulum-like energy recovery was increased in the Parkinson group while external mechanical work remained similar, the researchers reported.

    When you walk, the repetitive movements of your steps create a back-and-forth momentum, similar to a pendulum, which helps to decrease the amount of energy needed for walking. Put another way, its more energy-efficient to walk 10 steps consecutively, than to take 10 steps stopping with each step, because your momentum helps propel you along.

    In essence, the researchers found that the different gait patterns in Parkinsons patients makes their steps less efficient, and Nordic walking helps to correct this by increasing that pendulum-like momentum.

    Drills To Incorporate On Your Daily Walk To Improve Arm Swing And Decrease Shuffling

    Spring has sprung and the season of fundraising walks is upon us!

    Personally, walking is one of my favorite things to do. My husband, Matt, and I have always used our nightly walks to explore, relax, and recharge.

    Being able to walk is something our body craves. It’s a powerful way to improve circulation, digestion, restoration, prevent disease and reduce stress. However, it’s often a love-hate relationship with my clients. While they want nothing more than to be able to walk smoothly and safely, sometimes their body has something else in mind.

    Sound familiar?

    This is where I love to introduce walking poles into the mix.

    Nordic walking, as I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, has numerous benefits and is not a concept I came up with on my own. However, once I started incorporating pole walking drills into treatment sessions, I started seeing some incredible results .

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    Pole Walking For Parkinsons: How This Nordic Workout Improves Mobility

    Exercise is a vital component to living well with Parkinsons disease . According to Parkinsons Foundation research, exercise can improve many PD symptoms and delay disease progression. Walking is great exercise, yet people with Parkinsons may experience trouble with balance or gait and fear falling.

    A new solution for people with PD to comfortably and effectively utilize walking as an exercise option is gaining traction across North America: pole walking, also known as Nordic walking.

    Pole walking utilizes specially designed poles in an activity that mimics the motion of cross-country skiing. The walkers arms as well as legs are engaged as the poles propel the body. Walking poles may help users walk faster, more upright, and more steadily. When properly used, the poles take the weight off the walkers knees and lower body joints, which can create the feeling of being light on ones feet.

    Pole walking can be particularly helpful for people with Parkinsons, as the poles ensure better posture, and naturally keep the walker more upright. At the same time, taking longer strides can gently stretch limbs and keep the body rotated, which can help loosen up and improve coordination.

    While the progression of PD often leads to slow walking with smaller steps, pole walking creates a steady beat to improve pace and encourage the walker to make bigger motions.

    Pole walking, according to Mandy, has the added benefit of substantial improvements in mood, confidence and mental health.

    Nordic Walking & Parkinsons

    Pole Walking Drills for Parkinson’s – Regular Stride

    Nordic Walking is a valuable exercise tool for people with Parkinsons due to:

    • The focus on the correct gait technique.
    • Large amplitude training from the intensification of normal walking.
    • The repetitive movements drive neuroplasticity. It has been quoted that it can take approximately 60,000 repetitions until a pathway is automatic. This is where Nordic Walking can really benefit an individual, an example is trying to increase arm swing in normal gait, using the Nordic walking poles forces the client to swing their arms more. A 1km walk will result in, approximately, 500 arm swings on one side. This is a great building block as not many people would stand and do 500 reps of a single arm exercise every day, however would quite happily go for a 1-2km walk. Regular exercise and repetition of movements will strengthen neurological pathways.
    • Exposure to outdoor environments to build confidence.
    • Cardiovascular and general fitness benefits.
    • Increased stability due to two poles on the ground.
    • The coordination challenge of the technique helps to build dual tasking abilities.
    • Can improve upper limb strength as well as lower limb strength.
    • Bone density benefits from performing a weight bearing exercise.
    • The social interaction of group activities.

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    Explore The Walking Pole Selection

    Healthcare Solutions carry a variety of walking poles that are specially designed to enhance your walking workout, increase stability, improve circulation, burn calories, and more.

  • Urban Poling. Health Benefits. Retrieved from:
  • Urban Poling. Introduction to Urban Poling. Retrieved from:
  • Video #: Regular Stride

    Starting Position: Stand up tall and hold onto the poles with the pole tips behind you. Your arms should be by your sides with your elbows straight.

    The Pattern: Step forward with your left leg and swing your right arm forward simultaneously, dragging the pole tip along the ground. Then step forward with your right leg and swing your left arm forward, dragging the pole tip again.

    Each Step: Make sure you have the Pattern down. Press the pole tips firmly into the ground with each step.

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    Parkinsons Disease And The Benefits Of Hiking And Pole Walking

    With everything closed during quarantine, it is the perfect time to get out and explore the neighborhood! Walking has many great benefits for everyone! Each year the National Parkinsons Foundation hosts Moving Day, an event and walk to raise awareness and funds for Parkinsons Research and wellness. However, this year they will be holding Virtual Moving Day, where you can participate in work-outs and tune in from home. This foundation helps to fund many of the classes for our patients! In todays blog, well go into how aerobic exercise can help with Parkinsons Disease and talk about a fun way to get your daily exercise and enjoy some beautiful southern California sunshine!

    Link to Virtual Moving Day:

    Aerobic Exercise:

    Hiking Pole Walking:

    Using hiking poles has many benefits for Parkinsons patients and everyone! It is a whole body exercise that forces arm swing, cues for upright posture, increases step length, provides stability for balance, and allows for active stretching.

    For Posture:

    – Using the hiking poles cues for that good posture, allowing you to stand up straight and look up. No more slouching down which is a very common complaint for people.

    – The poles also act as additional balance support, allowing you to walk with less fear of falling and more confidence

    For Freezing:

    For Rigidity:

    For Tremor:

    For Aerobic Exercise:

    Lets get moving!


    What Can Help Walk Changes

    Pole walking and Parkinson

    Exercise is as important as medication and other therapies for managing Parkinsons symptoms and leading your best possible life.

    Parkinsons UK recommend when newly diagnosed that the individual takes part in regular vigorous activity. As symptoms progress the goal should be to take part in exercise that requires effort. Once symptoms are more complex, exercise should focus on benefitting activities for daily living .

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    But What Do Nordic Walkers Who Are Living With Parkinson’s Have To Say

    Richard Clifft, INWA Nordic Walking Instructor and Champion for Parkinsons UK shares his experience:

    Why Nordic Walking?

    Before the why, and for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the term, what is Nordic Walking?

    Put very, very simply, its walking with the addition of two specially designed poles that enhance regular natural walking. Its a very accessible activity and can be shared by people of differing fitness, and has no age limits.

    So the question, why, and what are the benefits?

    Well, its a recognised fact that exercise does play an important role in slowing the effects of Parkinsons, and Nordic Walking has growing evidence of its suitability for both movement, stature, and boosting self-confidence.

    From one who knows, the benefits have been impressive. It has increased my awareness when walking to use the whole body and improves my posture, keeping me up straight, and gives me a better stride to my walking. For me, I found that within a short space of time I had developed a better awareness of my posture and walk even without the poles, a point noted by both family and friends.

    So yes, Im absolutely convinced its a fun form of beneficial exercise which will get you off the sofa and with self-confidence to come into the big outdoors!

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