Urban poling, a popular Nordic sport, has become in vogue in the States over the past few years for its health and rehabilitative abilities. It’s an excellent activity for physical and occupational therapy as well as orthopedic rehabilitation.
What is urban poling?
Urban poling is also known as Nordic walking or exerstriding. Its a form of regular walking with the addition of holding onto walking poles, that look a lot like ski poles. In fact, urban poling looks a lot like cross-country skiing, sans snow and skis. It was first developed in Europe for off-season athletes as a way of staying in shape, and it’s been imported to the US for exercise and therapeutic purposes.
Why it’s effective
As opposed to simply walking, urban poling uses all of your muscles, since it also has arm movements. It’s a full-body workout, but one that most people can sustain for a long period of time. This makes it a more accessible type of exercise, and one that is particularly effective for physical therapy and orthopedic rehab, where patients are limited physically but need to work their bodies. Despite their deficiencies, orthopedic rehab patients can learn and accomplish the tasks needed for successful urban poling. Experts say it’s a great activity for orthopedic patients, because poling while walking relieves the stress on the joints, allowing the patient to exercise both their upper and lower muscles without worrying about the strain.
How it works
There are physical therapists who have been trained in urban poling for therapeutic efforts, but anyone can sign up for a class with a trained instructor. In a therapeutic setting, the patient will have a number of session with a therapist, but then may be able to continue efforts on his own, perhaps joining a regular class, or simply walking that way to work. It might get some second glances, but as it becomes more popular, people will recognize it and stop yelling out “Where’re your skis?” Even as one becomes proficient, the community aspect of working with a group can still be attractive to participants. The poles themselves cost about $100, and for the DIY types, or those who don’t have courses in their area, they come with an instruction video to get started.
Orthopedic rehabilitation in a facility
Physical therapists who practice in a rehabilitation facility can also teach their patients urban poling. While it’s not incredibly suitable for a rehab gym, depending on the patient’s level of injury or recovery, he may be able to learn it on the grounds. When he’s back at outpatient, he’ll have the skills to keep going himself, which will also make it more likely that so long as he’s performing the exercise, he can get back into sports or other intense physical activity.
At Sinai Post Acute Care center for rehabilitation in Newark, New Jersey, we have a staff of physical therapists who can help patients who need orthopedic rehabilitation to recover from joint injury or surgery, and learn exercises to decrease the risk of landing there again.