Pole Walking

Activator Poles are a specially designed walking pole used by physiotherapists in the rehabilitation of many conditions including: before and after hip and knee surgery; stroke; Parkinson's disease; and for balance, stability and mobility issues.
Restore Function Physiotherapy Team

Restore Function Physiotherapy Team

Restore Function Physiotherapy Team

Restore Function Physiotherapy Team

What is Nordic Walking?

Nordic Walking is a form of exercise using specially designed walking poles that are similar to ski poles to create a whole-body workout. Nordic walking originated in Scandinavia and has gained popularity throughout the world as a low impact and effective aerobic workout.

Urban Poling is a unique form of Nordic walking that uses specially designed poles and a specific technique to improve walking in rehabilitation settings. Urban Poling is unique in that it uses the ACTIVATOR TM pole, with a specifically designed handle and pole to create stability. ACTIVATOR TM poles were designed in consultation with occupational therapists and physiotherapists who work with older adults, individuals with chronic conditions and rehabilitation patients. The aim of the ACTIVATOR TM poles is essentially to help people walk better.


Who can benefit from using the ACTIVATOR TM poles?

The ACTIVATOR TM poles may be beneficial for a variety of conditions, including:

–    Before and after hip or knee replacement surgery, and after lower body injuries

–    People with certain neurological conditions including stroke, spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease

–    Decreased mobility due to balance or stability issues

–    Improving general fitness

–    Older adults

What are the benefits of using the ACTIVATOR TM poles and urban poling?

Urban poling is a whole-body work-out and therefore physical benefits are widespread. They include:

–    Increased cardiovascular fitness

–    Decreased perceived exertion allowing people to walk further

–    Increased upper limb muscle use during walking

–    Increased postural muscle use

–    Offloading lower limb joints including the hip and knee.

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How does walking with the ACTIVATOR TM poles compare to walking without poles?

One study has shown that walking with the ACTIVATOR TM poles increased walking speed, increased step length, decreased stride width and decreased gait variability. This translates to improved mobility in the community!  Other benefits over normal walking include:

1.     Core Strengthening: by applying downward force on the Activator Pole grip handle, the abdominal muscle and latissimus dorsi contracts with every step. That’s 1000 muscle contractions for every 1000 steps that you wouldn’t get with normal walking.

2.     Full Body Workout: using the activator poles increases muscle recruitment during the gait cycle.

3.     Increased Caloric Expenditure: Nordic walking increased energy expenditure and oxygen consumed by an average of 20%, and by up to 46% in some people.

For people undergoing rehabilitation, the ACTIVATOR TM poles are designed with specific features including increased weight bearing capacity, strapless grip and bell-shaped tip for greater stability and weight bearing.

The ACTIVATOR TM poles are a great tool for the right person. If you think the ACTIVATOR TM poles might be beneficial for you, or you’d like to try them out, ask your Restore Function Physiotherapist!


1.  Takeshima et al. Effects of Nordic Walking Compared to Conventional Walking and Band-Based Resistance Exercise on Fitness in Older Adults. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 12(3); 2013.

2.  Van Eijkeren et al. Nordic Walking Improves Mobility in Parkinson’s Disease. Movement Disorders, 23(15), 2008.

3.  Hansen and Smith. Energy Expenditure and Comfort During Nordic Walking with Different Pole   Lengths. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(4), 2009.

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