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MarkoKantaneva.Com | e-sportscoach Blog

Pole Trick

Tuesday 4/24/18 time 7:00 PM - Marko Kantaneva

Complete flexibility test of the neck and shoulder area, shoulder-blades, back and legs. Hold the poles in front of you and step over the poles without releasing the grip. Swing the poles in front of you over your head, again – do not let go. Now step over the poles again, and still do not release the grip. When you have taken the poles behind you for the second time, and you have not released your grip of the poles, you have completed the trick successfully.


Keywords: pole, trick, nordic walking, flexibility, test,

When selecting Nordic Walking poles...

Saturday 4/21/18 time 1:38 PM - Marko Kantaneva©

When selecting Nordic Walking poles, it is sensible to pay particular attention to the following issues:

• The design and material of the grip must be ergonomical to suit the palm of your hand, and not rub when used with a bare hand.

• The strap must provide proper support to the arm and, furthermore, should be designed in such a manner where there is no need to squeeze the pole; instead, the pole should move naturally along with the movements of the walker.

• Moreover, a good strap divides the grip of the palm equally, and ensures unimpeded circulation in the palm.

• A pole must be lightweight and durable .

• The hard metal spike on the lower tip of the pole is a safety device, and the asphalt paw attached to the spike, which is supplied as an optional extra, absorbs the impact when walking on hard surfaces.


Before purchasing your set of poles, you should try out poles of several lengths at the store or in various Nordic Walking events. When doing this, please bear in mind and observe the following:

• When you walk with poles do you get a natural and effi cient sensation of movements?

• Does the pole provide resistance appropriate to the level of your fitness and skills?

• If the pole is short, movements achieved are rather short.

• Poles of proper size (about 0.7 x your height) ensure movements that are naturally suited to you. This principle applies perfectly to the majority of Nordic Pole Walking enthusiasts.

• When a pole is long the movements achieved are rather long, whereas short poles result in short movements.

Original Nordic Walking Pole length Selection Table


Keywords: Nordic Walking, Poles, Length, Selection,


Thursday 2/22/18 time 11:19 AM - Marko Kantaneva

Measuring fitness must never be the primary goal of workout or the end in itself. Nevertheless, it is an extremely good way of keeping personal training habits on the right track. Moreover, it is a good way to start working out in order to map your physical fitness, in particular if you have not been working out regularly for a long period of time. This means that you are not entirely and reliably fully aware of your actual physical fitness and associated risks. People often assess their state of fi tness the same way they assess their driving skills. You too perhaps believe that you are a better-than-average driver. What about your fitness? The UKK Institute walking test is a perfect fitness test that also monitors fitness progress. If workouts have not been a part of your life for a long time, then the safest way is to perform the first walking test together with a physical education professional.


Measuring endurance capacity and monitoring its development is a motivation for regular physical activity. A simple test for determining endurance – the UKK Institute’s 2 km walking test – is available for Nordic walking enthusiasts. The test was designed for 20–65 year old men and women of medium fitness and has also proven to be reliable for overweight persons. The walking test is a good way to measure changes in one’s fitness. The test is perfectly suited for Pole walkers, although it is based on normal walking. The UKK Institute walking test is not intended to be performed with poles. In case of persons who are already very fit, the results underestimate endurance capability.


Keywords: fitness test, measuring, condition, walking test, 2 km, walking, nordic walking


Friday 2/9/18 time 9:38 AM - Marko Kantaneva

Please, answer the questions below:

  1. Is your neck and shoulder area fit?
  2. Do you exercise enough? (at least 1 – 2 times per week, and for about 30 minutes at a time)
  3. Are your abdominal muscles fit?
  4. Are your back muscles fit?
  5. Are your arm muscles fit?
  6. Do you squat easily?
  7. Can you walk up three flights of stairs easily and without panting?
  8. When you divide your weight by the square of your height, e.g. 75 kg / 1.872 = 22.4 (weight index), is the result below 25?
  9. Do you enjoy jogging?
  10. Do you enjoy walking?

If you answered ‘No’ to more than one question, then Nordic Walking is surely an excellent workout for you. And what is better – even if you answered ‘Yes’ to all or most of the questions, Nordic Walking is still an excellent form of workout for you.


WOULD NORDIC POLE WALKING SUIT YOU? THE ANSWERS: Here are some of my answers to the questions above.

  1. Nordic Walking conditions the neck and shoulder area muscles, and relieves tensions.
  2. Nordic Walking appeals to large groups of people everywhere. So Nordic Walking must be fun and appropriately challenging.
  3. If your abdominal muscles are not fit, you will be able to improve their firmness and condition with Nordic Walking and pole exercises.
  4. If your abdominal muscles are not fit, you will be able to improve their firmness and condition with Nordic Walking and pole exercises.
  5. If your arm muscles have become weak then pole thrusts involved in Nordic Walking will restore your muscle strength.
  6. Nordic Pole Walking combined with pole exercises will give you flexible joints and muscles.
  7. The pleasure, motivation and benefi ts provided by Nordic Walking will soon restore your wellness to the level set by your age.
  8. Regular Nordic Walking workouts and properly balanced eating are the best options to control your weight.
  9. If you do not like running, all benefi ts of running and jogging can be achieved through a much more painless way – through Nordic Walking.
  10. If you do not like running, all benefi ts of running and jogging can be achieved through a much more painless way – through Nordic Walking.

Keywords: Nordic walking, walking, abdominals, arms, squat, neck and shoulder area, exercising, muscles, fit


Wednesday 2/7/18 time 10:30 AM - Marko Kantaneva

marko-kantaneva-swing-back.jpgIn brief, Nordic Walking is enhanced walking where the arms are also used to push.

In Nordic Walking, the movements of your arms, feet, pelvic area and the entire body are similar to those employed during a vigorous walk. 

In Nordic Walking, the opposite arms and feet swing in alternation and rhythmically forwards and backwards just as in normal walking, but clearly more intensively. 

It is important to try to learn the correct rhythm and swing moves of Nordic Walking as correctly as possible right from the start in order to ensure the best training effects. The amplitude of arm swing in the back and forth direction also sets the swing breadth of the lower limbs, i.e. the legs. Short arm motions are translated into short pelvis and leg motions.

The same happens vice versa, when one walks with short strides. In this case, it is impossible to make extensive back and front arm swings. The further the pole is thrust back behind the pelvic line, the longer the stride required. The longer and more complete the above mentioned swinging motion of the upper and lower limbs, the stronger the twists of the pelvis, chest, neck and shoulders. 

Nordic Walking performed with wide and maximally large as well as alternating overall joint angles is an extremely good workout as well as beneficial for the skeleton and organs.

Keywords: Nordic walking, walking, exercise, stride, swing, rhythm, arms, pelvic, feet, original

Why is Nordic Walking the best all-in-1 workout in the world?

Wednesday 1/31/18 time 8:58 AM - Marko Kantaneva

• When exercising with Nordic Walking, you are always improving the condition of all your major muscle groups – i.e. the fitness of your arms, back, abdomen, pelvic area and feet muscles;

• When exercising with Nordic Walking, you are always improving the state of your respiratory and cardiovascular system. The fitness of your lungs, heart and blood vessels;

• You can practise Nordic Walking wherever you wish and whenever you wish – on roads, in parks, on the beach, in the woods;

• Nordic Walking movements are completely natural and functional. Movements are the same as those of normal walking;

• Nordic Walking suits everyone. Nordic Walking can be practised with good results by top athletes, people attracted to fitness sports and those who want to promote their health, elderly and young people and children;

• Using Nordic Walking devices – the poles – you can perform a number of movements that will make you more agile, stronger and fitter.


Learn more from Marko: Online Education

See also Nordic walking instructor package

and Vipole Vario Novice adjustable NW poles

Keywords: Nordic walking


Friday 1/26/18 time 9:18 AM - Marko Kantaneva

Before taking up Nordic Walking, you should first focus on normal walking and its performance. Walking is a skill given to us all at birth, which we can handle even in our sleep. Walking is also the foundation of Nordic Walking.


However, in our busy everyday life we tend to forget our natural postures and movements that keep our bodies beautiful and fit. If we remember to stand erect, to keep the pelvis up and the back straight but relaxed we are listening to that inner calling. Why should we fight against the call of our blood in vain. 

Nevertheless, in observing human motion I have noticed that people fail to follow natural walking movements, like rolling of the foot from the toe to heel, twist of the pelvis. Or they have just forgotten how to use them, considering them redundant.

 A great number of people trudge along with short steps on just their soles, with their knees bent. When this is done, their shoulders and the pelvis are thrust forwards. All the work required to advance is performed by the muscles of the frontal thigh, the hip flexors. On top of all that, this unnatural way of moving is accompanied by immobile and unbending pelvic area. How easy would it be to walk along looking stately and vigorous. Just answer the call of your blood.


I admit, the above descriptive situation is overly dramatic. In its main parts, however, it is the everyday reality around us. The posture has started to disappear, only we have not noticed it. This is precisely why, before taking up Nordic Walking training, people should turn their attention to the movements involved in walking and revive these instincts. So, relax for a moment, concentrate and straighten yourself up. Feel the movements and the rhythm of your body. Let your body carry you beautifully and sensuously. Observe children moving, how they walk and run. Learn from them and their naturalness.

Learn more from Marko: Online Education

See also Nordic walking instructor package

and Vipole Vario Novice adjustable NW poles

Keywords: Walking, walking technique, posture, Nordic walking

Power Hill Training

Tuesday 9/19/17 time 1:15 PM - Text: Marko Kantaneva, photos: Samantha Armstrong


The idea of this form of training is to develop all areas of fitness: basic endurance, pace endurance and maximum endurance. Maximum endurance training is used only with respect to muscular effort (aerobic speed endurance) without the heart rate rising to its maximum potential. Training sessions start at a slow pace and gradually increase speed. At the end of the session the tempo is reduced again. The following is an example of a hill training session. The gradually increasing pace ensures a refreshed feeling in the muscles after the training has finished. The session should end with a thorough set of stretching exercises.


After warming up (10 minutes) the first part of the session proper begins. The aim of this is 20-30 minutes of vigorous aerobic Nordic Walking. The heart rate remains under 150 beats per minute throughout. See the Heart Rate Table 1 for more details. During the subsequent pace endurance section the heart rate rises to 150-170 beats per minute. This section consists of 20-30 minutes of hill training with the inclines walked vigorously and the downhills jogged or run. The following muscle conditioning exercise should be repeated 15 times.


The movement may be, for example, a pole press up. It should be begun straight after the hill session without any intervening recovery. The aerobic pace endurance component of the session involves jogging or running uphill using the poles at 95% of maximum speed and for a maximum of ten seconds at a time (heart rate 170-180 beats/minute). Five repetitions with two minutes recover in between. Afterwards a recovery phase consisting of easy Nordic Walking (heart rate 135-140 beats/minute) followed by the stretching exercises.

The following table shows recommended heart rates for rehabilitation and fitness walking for people of different ages:

Table 1


One should also be aware that the heart rate both at rest and during physical exertion is affected by medication such as, for example, medicines for heart and circulatory problems, asthma medicine and medicines for treating psychological conditions. The most common of these are blood pressure medications which generally lower the heart rate and asthma medications which increase it. The effect on the heart rate may be either that of increasing or decreasing so anyone using such drugs should consult with his doctor or some other health care specialist regarding the heart rate suitable for him during exercise. 



Run in a relaxed manner allowing the stride to roll forward from the heel to the ball of the foot and using the poles in vigorous alternating fashion. LINK TO VIDEO


Run in a relaxed manner with lengthened but low bounding strides allowing the stride to roll forward from the heel to the ball of the foot and using the poles in vigorous alternating fashion. LINK TO VIDEO


Increase the pace of your running slightly and keep the leading leg’s knee high allowing the lower leg to swing easily forward. As soon as the knee is raised plant the leg down on the ground at the point underneath your centre of gravity. Thus you will achieve an effective forward directed effort. Use the poles in vigorous alternating fashion.


Keywords: Marko Kantaneva, Nordic Walking, Sauvakävely, Nordic Running

Original Nordic walking

Monday 2/13/17 time 2:45 PM - Written & Translated by Marko Kantaneva and edited by Malcolm Jarvis.


FOREWORD: Those in the Nordic Walking community who have an interest in the origins of this great activity will have encountered the word “Sauvakävely”. The term is Finnish and it is now known worldwide as “Nordic Walking”. This is an English translation of Marko Kantaneva’s much discussed but seldom seen original article – “Sauvakävely”. First published in 1997 and in Finnish only. The original text does not use the term Nordic Walking as we had to wait until later before that name was created (1999). However, to avoid confusion Marko has used the term Nordic walking throughout the translated text. Written and translated by: Marko Kantaneva and edited by Malcolm Jarvis.

What is Sauvakävely? (=Nordic walking)

It’s a well known fact that cross country skiers have used ski poles for a long time as part of their summer conditioning because with poles it’s possible to do an exact imitation of a classic cross-country skiing technique going uphill. With poles skiers have done long hikes in the fells and in the forests of Lapland; training by bounding and running uphill and doing very hard special high intensity exercises on swamps with a backpack filled with stones.

For ordinary people in search of general fitness and conditioning there is no need to do such types of very intensive sporting exercises in order to be able to achieve excellent results from training with poles. Actually, anyone can easily find a suitable and comfortable level of pole walking in order to have a highly effective, fun, but at the same time a very functional all-in-one outdoor exercise. Walking with poles gives a really new opportunity to simultaneously achieve respiratory and cardio-vascular fitness and muscle conditioning all at the same time and in just one outdoor exercise session! It’s also my experience that the secrets and benefits of walking with poles immediately become clear for those who have tried it and it’s also clear that there will be a huge boom in Nordic walking in the near future - in our country and worldwide - when the word goes out.For some, the idea of walking with poles as being a serious outdoor exercise method, and especially for the very first time, seems to be a big mental threshold to get over because the whole thought is so funny (almost ridiculous – too easy). Me - walking with a poles in the middle of summer? Its very hard to imagine oneself taking a pair of poles to go and walk in public on the roads, in parks, forests and sidewalks with a look on the face that says ”Hey it might look funny but its good for you”. In reality its better to be prepared for comments like: ”Have you lost your skiis (mind)?” –  ”I saw your skiis earlier today - they were going in that direction by themselves (hahaa)” – ”Hey, winter is gone already neighbour! (more laughing)”. However, the Nordic walker doesn’t need to worry because barking dogs never bite. Instead, the proud Nordic walker can just go on with a smile and be consoled with the thought: ”My physical condition is getting better and better with every single step I take and push I make”


It is clear that in Nordic walking the poles should be shorter than the length of those used in the classic cross country skiing technique. This is because there are no skiis or depth of snow under the walker´s feet (poles) during the walking action. Also with poles and using a normal walking action it is not possible to do as long a stride, or to slide, as is possible with skiis on a ski path.

From the point of view of a person who is in average physical condition the best way to obtain suitable poles for Nordic walking is to visit a sports shop or department store sports department. For Nordic walking use there is no sense in choosing the best available cross country ski racing poles. A suitable price level for ski poles for pole walking use is around 200 Finnish marks.

When walking in the summer time on forest paths it might be beneficial if the poles used have a similar spiketip like that used on alpine and trekking poles. Those have a crown type of spiketip and a smaller basket than is normally used on cross country ski poles. With this type of alpine or trekking pole spiketip and basket it is possible to avoid the problem which happens with a sharp cross country ski pole spike tip. A cross country pole spike tip picks up leaves, twigs and other trash. To protect the floors when storing the poles at home or to make walking with poles on asphalt a ”softer” experience it would be a good idea to use a kind of rubber plug over the pole spiketips. After the asphalt part of the route ends the rubber plug is easy to take off in order to continue walking on forest paths just with a spiketips.

Table. Original length criteria of Nordic walking poles

Walker / height Poles / length

150-160 cm      115 cm

161-170 cm      120 cm

171-180 cm      125 cm

181-190 cm      130 cm

191-200 cm      135 cm

The pole lengths presented in the table  ”Original length criteria of Nordic walking poles” above are based on long term field testing and experience and have been found in practice to be generally well suited for people when comparing the pole length (cm) to their height (cm).

Ski poles are available for people shorter that 150 cm or taller than 2 meters. A person shorter than 150 cm should use a ski pole 5 – 10 cm shorter than the  minimum length mentioned in the table. A person over 2 meters tall should use 5 – 10 cm longer ski poles than that mentioned as a maximum length in the pole length table. Of course, in the end  everyone can decide for themselves the length of ski poles they like to use for Nordic walking.

When starting out Nordic walking its not necessary to immediately go and buy new and correctly sized cross country ski, trekking or alpine poles. To begin with the cross country poles already in the closet at home will be just fine

What kind of training is Nordic walking?

In Nordic walking the training effect is very comprehensive because, in a walking action - just like in a cross country skiing action - all the main muscle groups are in use. To put it simply – the legs and hips will get active partnership from arms and upper body muscles during the walking action. This tiny detail - to add the upper body muscles in supporting the walking action – thereby making it a more comprehensive and effective total body workout - increases pole walking training effect by up to 40% when compared to walking without poles. In practice this is significant for people who are looking for an effective but easy going exercise form. There is no need to increase walking speed; but with a pair of poles in the hands you will get much more of a comprehensive exercise which will improve respiratory and cardio-vascular fitness and muscle condition - all during one exercise.

Nordic walking technique

Nordic walking technique is very similar to classic cross country skiing technique. It’s easy to master the basic rhythm of Nordic walking after a short period because the rhythm and movement is very natural and follows a similar pattern to a walking and running rhythm.

It is important in Nordic walking that the arm movement should allow the grip of the pole to always move from back to front so that the fists leads the arm from behind to the front, and from the front to the back with both arms acting alternately.

When pushing, each pole will find its natural angle. So when the front arm (right) is bent to about a 90 degrees angle and the pole tip is placed into the ground the tip is then level with the rear foot – and then the angle of pole to the ground is about 75 degrees - and the rear arm (left) and leg is stretched oneselves to toe and pole push.

The main thing is that you never throw the pole tips to front first which makes Nordic walking in a view of arm/pole work very tense and will lead to missing of all power from pole push. Practice has shown that there is no reason to pay too much attention to technique details because Nordic walking movements are very natural. Actually the same as  at age 6 months when you last crawled on the floor.

It’s a good hint to remember that arms and legs should move in a similar way and rhythm as they do in a normal fast walking action (long stride and arm work). There is only the need to add to the walking action the pole plant to the ground, the pull of the pole and at the end of the arm movement, the push of the pole. In these three phases it is also good to remember not to grip the pole too tightly and to release the palm of the hand just a little against the pole straps at the end of the each pole push to create a longer stride.

After a short time the movements of Nordic walking will come more fluid and relaxed. Practice has shown that after a short introduction people will find the natural and correct rhythm fairly quickly. You just don´t need to try and think too much – let it flow.

Moderate training

The basic form of Nordic walking training is a long lasting endurance type of walking. Four feet walking. This type of exercise session should last from 30 minutes up to two hours depending ones level of physical conditition. The level and pace of pole walking exercise should be moderate, say heart rate 120 to 150 beats per minute. If you are not able to measure heart rate with a heart rate monitor, it is possible to use instead the rule of NAS (Need to be Able to Speak) to make sure the correct individual exercise exertion level is reached but not exceeded.

The best terrain for Nordic walking training is a mixed type of terrain but should not include very steep hills. However, the natural variation of terrain will make Nordic walking training both great fun and also be functional. On a flat part of the track you can increase your stride length assisted by longer pole pushes. Going uphill you will experience a new feeling of ”four wheel drive” - thanks to strong arm work - and on the downhill you can jog to relax and allow your muscles to recover from hard exertion.

When beginning Nordic walking, especially if you know that your physical condition is not in the best possible shape, it’s better to select training paths in flat terrain, like asphalt roads or parks, than from very steep cross country paths. Step by step - together with improved physical condition, you can pick up steeper paths where to do your Nordic walking training sessions.

The moderate exercise level in Nordic walking is suitable for most ordinary people (not fitness crazy). Simply, it is ideal for those who are in need of regular outdoor exercise which will fullfil the training needs of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems and  muscles all at the same time in one session.

Additional performance with the poles

If you are looking to improve your fitness and performance level, for example towards long distance skiing events in the winter time, like the Wasaloppet or similar, then Nordic walking special uphill exercises are the most suitable training for you. Remember, the following two exercise examples uphill training and bounding with poles are more suitable for those with a high level of fitness.

Uphill training with the poles will be ”against the clock”, for example over 30 minutes. Then it does not matter how long the uphill section is. In uphill training all that is to continuously keep on walking up the hill and then jogging or walking down in a relaxed way. When walking up the poles should be used very powerfully – using poles (arms) like a second pair of legs. Instead of just walking fast you should be pulling and pushing yourself with the poles up the hill. Once you have reached the top you should turn back down again. On the way down walk or jog to allow recovery from the exertion the uphill ”four feet walking” has caused you.

The uphill training with the poles will improve performance ability, aerobic endurance force and recovery metabolism. To be able to do uphill training exercises you should be at least in a fairly good shape – beginners should remember that the heart rate will raise very quickly in an uphill training session.

Bounding with the poles 

Uphill should be done after a very careful warm up session - for example after 15 to 20 minutes of rapid Nordic walking. The uphill should be quite short - lasting about only 20 to 60 seconds on each run. The steepness of the hill should allow easy jumping with the poles from the starting point to the top and also be easy to jog or walk down again afterwards. It is best if the path is clear so that there would not be any possible risks of hurting yourself when jogging back down from the top. The uphill bounding with poles is supposed to be like in winter time with cross country skiis using ”herringbone jumps”. Its also possible to go uphill by running with the poles if its too hard to find the rhythm of leg and arm work coordination whilst bounding. The speed is not important, but use careful arm, leg and footwork with each push and bound you make. When you are back at the starting point take a short easy pole walk for 2 or 3 minutes to cool down before you start bounding up again. Bounding with the poles routines should last from 20 to 60 minutes in total depending on your physical condition. Bounding uphill with the poles improves anaerobic condition and makes ”cross country skiing muscles” – arms, buttocks, legs, back and abdominals stronger.

Remember: Uphill exercises are suitable for persons who are already in a good shape and are looking for a more competitive athletic fitness condition.

Muscles recovery with Nordic walking

It’s possible to cure painful leg muscles, joints and bones after a hard training session or after a long working day with Nordic walking on a swamp or soft forest ground. The exercise has to be at  a very low tempo and be easy. This type of exercise should last around a maximum of half an hour. On a swamp, quiet and calm Nordic walking is very comfortable because the muscles and bones will not get tired from those ’hits’ they normally take with every step and pole push. Quiet and calm Nordic walking on a swamp or soft forest ground is a perfect way for the whole body to recover from the hard physical and mental exertions of the day.

Hint: On a swamp it is also possible to do an exercise similar to uphill training, but on a swamp or soft ground the joints, muscles and bones will not exhaust so completely because the ’hits’ the legs and arms take are much softer.

Try it!

Everyone should at least once go and try this new way to improve respiratory and cardio-vascular fitness and muscle conditition all in one comprehensive exercise. So, put your walking shoes on your feet, take your poles from the winter closet and go out to have a Nordic walk. Head off in the direction of park or forest paths swinging your poles and smiling in the spring sunshine and enjoy ’four feet walking’ ( tsup – tsup – tsup...).

Keywords: Original Nordic walking, Nordic walking, Marko Kantaneva, Original Nordic walker