Nordic Walking for Breast Cancer
When I first came to work with physical activity in the CATCH project I came across the Nordic Walking (NW) program of Oncoavanze Clinic, my host institution to develop the research. The program is coordinated by one of my supervisors, Prof. Dr. Matilde Mora, from University of Seville and VidaON association.
Surprised to encounter this activity for the first time and especially in Seville, a city that has nothing of Nordic, I tried to learn more about NW and then I understood the benefits to patients with breast cancer. Women with breast cancer who have undergone axillary lymph node dissection or axillary radiation as part of their treatment often suffer from upper extremity morbidity. Knowing that, in addition to general effects of group exercise previously reported, NW may increase patients’ functional abilities by improving shoulder range of motion and shoulder muscle strength (Fischer MJ et al. 2015).
What is Nordic Walking?
“Nordic Walking is a form of physical activity, where regular, natural walking is enhanced by the addition of the active use of a pair of specially-designed Nordic Walking poles. However, the characteristics of natural, biomechanically-correct walking and appropriate posture are maintained in all aspects.”
So, unlike trekking, where the poles are placed in front of the body, in NW the poles are used to propel the person ahead. Another important difference is in the equipment, where the NW poles have a system, called Trigger Shark Strap, where the poles keep connected to the hands, facilitating to open the hands and re-grab the pole while walking.
Following the Oncoavanze’s group I could participate in various NW classes and be in direct contact with the group of athletes who are already participating in regional competitions, always under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Matilde Mora.
This month of October was especially interesting; with breast cancer awareness highlighted by the international day of fight against breast cancer (19), several events in the region and especially in nearby coastal city of Cádiz, promoted activities targeted to women, and the Nordic Walking activity was in some events.
We had a walk along the beach with over a hundred people using NW poles, and of course the group of athletes from Seville.
Attesting to the variety of NW possibilities, a walk through the historic center of Cadiz, promoted by Agamama also led dozens of women to walk with NW poles against breast cancer.
Then, in addition to the technical knowledge and learning a new sport, being able to be part of these activities has brought me an experience far beyond what I imagined at the beginning. The CATCH project allowed me to understand science not only as a mechanical job of collecting data and publishing papers, but rather of understanding the problem and seeking solutions that impact society.