Running & Nordic Walking


Nordic walking in the Dachstein Salzkammergut – 5 tips and tricks

Breathe in clear, fresh air, recharge your batteries and explore the most beautiful places in the Dachstein region – what could be better than Nordic walking?

Nordic walking is a sport for everyone. You can set your own pace, you can choose your own route to suit your mood, and, what’s more, it is great for your health:  endurance sport strengthens the cardiovascular system immensely.

Here are 5 tips and things worth knowing about Nordic walking.

The right Nordic walking outfit

For Nordic walking, choose breathable clothing suitable for the air temperature. You do not want clothing that is too baggy. Nordic walking is not just a fine weather sport, and many like to go out in cold, rainy weather, therefore we recommend the tried and tested “onion skin approach” to dressing for the occasion. In other words, wear different layers of tight-fitting, lightweight clothes. It is better to sweat than to freeze! During your day out working you can adjust your clothing to suit the weather/temperature eg by unzipping your jacket/removing a layer of clothing if you get too hot.


Here’s how the “onion-skin effect” functions:

Your bottom layer of clothing should be close-fitting and made of breathable material such as polyester.  The main purpose of this bottom layer of clothing is to soak up sweat and allow it to pass through to the next layer.  The air between the different layers of clothing helps warm the body. For the second layer we recommend something made from microfibres. In this case, cotton is not a good idea. It soaks up the sweat from the first layer but doesn’t allow it through to the next layer of clothing. As a result, the body cools down.

A good jacket should for the outer layer of clothing. We recommend a specialist Nordic walking jacket as it carries out all the necessary functions. Most importantly, your jacket should be wind-proof, as wind is what makes the body cool down most quickly.  

Take care: if your clothing is too thick, this can lead to a build up of heat.


Nordic walking equipment

It goes without saying that you need proper walking poles for this endurance sport. Normal walking or ski poles are not sufficient!

Specialist Nordic walking poles are made from carbon and glass fibres and have a hand strap. This forms a special safety system whereby the pole is fixed to the wrist by means of a velcro tape that forms a loop.  The loop is, as such, very important so that you can open your hands and keep your arms parallel and close to your body at the same time. This allows you to walk more freely.


Something to bear in mind: the correct pole length

When choosing Nordic walking poles you need to think about the length. You need to protect your elbows and shoulders. The length of your poles is calculated as follows: body length x 0.66. The forearm needs to be at right angles to the upper arm.  Of course, this general rule does not take into account physical exceptions, so the poles should be individually adjusted at the beginning.  When first starting out and learning the correct walking technique, the stride length is generally shorter therefore shorter sticks would be suitable for beginners. Here we recommend telescopic poles so that you can adjust the length and even share a pair of poles with someone.


Nordic walking shoes that fit 

Just as important when going Nordic walking is your choice of shoes.  Normal walking boots, jogging shoes or light trekking shoes are fine, so long as they are water proof as they need to be suitable for all weather conditions.

Also, shoes need to be robust and must support the heel and arch and allow for a proper rolling movement of the foot. Individually fitted and anatomic insoles support the arch of the foot and ensure an optimum hold whilst walking. Most importantly, shoes need to be suitable to the terrain. If you are walking on a solid, even terrain, you need different shoes to when you are walking up and down hills.

You can find specialist equipment as well as suitable clothing throughout the Dachstein Salzkammergut Holiday Region:


Health and fitness

As we know, Nordic walking is an all round sport, suitable for beginners and those with more experience. Stamina is built up and muscles are strengthened. It’s great for the heart and circulation, and it’s also good fun. Another advantage to Nordic walking is that it gets you out into the fresh air, and helps energise you.

Using the poles also has benefits. The upper body is exercised and shoulder and neck tension is reduced. Nordic Walking relieves the strain on the human musculoskeletal system of up to 30%, making it particularly suitable for those with knee and back problems. In addition, the increased use of  auxillary respiratory muscles increases the oxygen supply to the entire body.

The targeted pressure of the sticks on to the ground strengthens the chest, shoulder and arm muscles and, at the same time, protects the ankle joints. This is why this type of sport is particularly suitable for those new to sport as well as people of all ages. The knee joints are spared of too much pressure and the poles provide support when walking.


Did you know?

Nordic walking is extremely easy on the joints, making it the most suitable sport for rehabilitation after sports injuries.


Don’t forget your water bottle

When practising sport, you must always ensure you have enough water with you. A water bottle and a suitable bottle belt or rucksack are absolute must-haves. If your body does not get enough water, you will not perform to the peak of your ability, and problems can arise.


Correct Nordic walking technique

First of all, warm-up and stretching exercises should be an integral part of any Nordic walking expedition. Stretches should be even – jerky movements must be avoided at all costs. Each of the stretches should be light and maintained only for a few seconds.   This makes it easy for the muscles to stretch and relax and your tendons can adjust to the activity. Stretching too violently increases the susceptibility to injury. Always relax in between movements.  And don't forget on those stretching and relaxation exercises when you return!

The following photo gallery can be navigated with the arrow keys (left, right).

What is most important when Nordic walking is that your gait is cross-coordinated -diagonally. That is, the left arm swings forward at the same time as the right foot. This automatically makes movements more rhythmic, which ensures an even flow.  The upper body should be bent slightly forward and the rotation between the shoulder and pelvis adjusted according to the length of the arm swing and the stride length.

Each arm swing starts from the shoulder joint and then the entire arm is used. When swinging forward, the elbow joint is not fully stretched. Afterwards, the arm is then swung slightly more strongly and ends at the rearmost point with a stretch of the elbow joint. This backward stretch is one of the main characteristics of the Nordic walking technique.  

When putting on the stick to the ground, care must be taken to ensure that there is not too much force. The stick should hit the ground where the heel of the front foot touches the ground.  All fingers grip tightly around the stick. When the arm then swings backwards, the hand is opened. When the arm then swings forward again, the stick is swung along by the bracket of the loop and gripped again by the fist shortly before being placed on the ground.  

In order to perfect your Nordic walking technique, attention needs to be given as to how you move your feet. You need to put your heel down first and then follow with the rest of the foot, smoothly and gently.  When the entire foot is on the ground, you push off again with your toes.  A tip: Imagine that you want to show someone the sole of your foot!  Proper training also ensures that the leg and buttock muscles are trained and the thighs are in good shape.


Good to know:

As a Nordic walking novice, learning the correct technique is far more important than the length of the walk. Walking style is the be-all-and-end-all of this endurance sport!  


Calorie consumption and muscle building with Nordic Walking

Nordic walking is a really good means of weight loss and of building up muscle. Whilst you are walking, approximately 90% of the muscles in the body are used. The arms, chest, stomach and spine are strengthened, as are the buttocks, thighs and calves. It cannot be underestimated Nordic walking is a great workout for the whole body.  

Nordic walking also burns a lot of calories. As all parts of the body are challenged, an optimum amount of energy is used.  On average, when walking at six kilometres per hour, 400 calories are burned per hour. If you are fit and walk more quickly, you can burn up to 650 calories per hour.  With the right technique, the buttocks are tightened and the muscles of the entire body are strengthened. And, of course, even better results are achieved if you combine exercise with a balanced, healthy diet.

Nordic walking is, generally speaking, a great sport for people of all ages. It is highly recommended whether your aim is to lose weight, build up muscle or simply get out and enjoy some fresh air. If you go walking as a group, you should still have enough breath to be able to hold a normal conversation. This, of course, all adds to the fun! In the Holiday Region Dachstein Salzkammergut you have some Nordic Walking routes to choose from.  And in summer you can cool off after the training session in our crystal-clear lakes like the Lake Hallstatt or the Lake Gosau.

Enjoy your Nordic Walking experience!