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A passion for pole walking

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Meet Leanne Booth, an Urban Poling instructor and avid pole walker. In a phone interview, the BC resident who has Osteoarthritis shared how pole walking improved her quality of life.

May is Arthritis and Physical Therapy Month, and Booth is a testimonial in staying active and fit despite having two hip surgeries.

She began, “When I had my first hip surgery back in 2011.  I joined a walking group and I was walking with my cane, and I started off with a five kilometer walking clinic. And I went through that and I progressed to the 10K walking clinic. And when you’re walking quickly with a cane to try and keep up with everybody, you get this really strange gait. One of these instructors said to me, “Have you ever thought about using poles, the Nordic poles? Because that way, you can keep your balance and then have a regular, even stride.” So I tried it, I got a set of poles and oh, it was night and day difference.”

Booth describes the many benefits, she says, “I was able to walk farther, walk evenly and progressed into doing half marathons. And then after my second hip surgery (2015) at the physio, at the hospital, they had a set of the urban poles. And they were so much more comfortable because they had a ledge to put your hands on, and there weren’t any straps going around your wrist so that you weren’t fudging around with those things either.”

She continues, “And I was using the activator poles because with the activator poles, they have the bell ends that are like on canes. And you walk a little bit differently. You’re not really doing Nordic walking. You’re walking with the pole out in front of you and you alternate your arms that way so that your arms are out in front of you. Like you’ve got two canes going out in front of you and you’re walking, but you get a really good stride going. And then when my hips were healed, after the surgery, I just put the Nordic pull tips on the ends of those, on my new activator poles. And I was happy as a clam.”

Nordic walking is for all ages and a good cross trainer to incorporate into your running program. “I’ll usually walk at least three times a week and do one long walk. The walk that I did this week was through part of the trail system, Sunnyside trail, over in South Surrey.You’re going through the hard packed trails there, and then as you get up, you’re also going on a road and pathways as well. It makes it really neat together, the combination of the three,” says Booth.

The poles helps Booth to increase speed, cover more distance while offering balance. Booth, says, “Without using the poles, I could still walk, just not as far, not as fast, just not as comfortable. It makes a huge, huge difference.”

For people who are thinking about taking up pole walking, Booth says, “I would say give it a try because you’re going to be amazed at how much you can increase your speed for one thing. And how much of a workout you can get, it’s an addiction too. If it’s somebody who likes to walk and they want to enhance their exercise routine of walking, this is a really good side way to do it. And for somebody who is, say like myself, who was recovering from surgeries and want to get back to walking, this is also excellent because it makes you feel more confident when you’re on a trail or anything like that, because you’ve got your pole on either side for balance. And it just… It gives you more self-confidence in that regard.”

Lace up your shoes, bring your poles and enjoy the outdoors.

While we’re on the topic of walking, you might find this article on taking care of your feet helpful.

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