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Nordic Walking, Cycling, Improving Speed, Plants, March in March, Objectives, Skills for Going Out

Notes from the Neuro Café on 10th March 2021.

Perhaps attracted by all the talk about Custard Creams last week, Sarah replaced Conor this week! We agreed that biscuits might possibly not be the healthiest breakfast food. Today was an interesting Q&A session.

Plant tips

Chillies, strawberries and orchids; do not water too much (once a week perhaps) and try good drainage with vermiculite.

Seeing if it is possible to grow tomato plants from supermarket tomatoes.

We heard about wild orchids growing in Ireland.

March in March

Sarah reminded us to March in March. Keep moving!

Set Objectives?

Sarah asked us if we had targets and objectives. If ever you wanted to know how determined LEGS participants are, just ask that question! Everyone had set some sort of objective and we are working towards all kinds of goals:

  • doing a circuit of local parks and gardens

  • doing steps and gentle inclines

  • counting number of steps walked inside. 150 steps is a circuit. Do two or three circuits

  • acknowledge things have been slow in recent weeks but am building up

  • working on building confidence to be able to get outside again

  • working on improving hand mobility. Sarah suggested wearing an oven glove on the non-damaged hand to force the damaged hand to move

  • working towards getting lost in a lingerie department! (Comments and laughs about TV series Father Ted where a group of priests cannot work out how to exit the lingerie department in a shop)

  • walk up flights of stairs

  • daily step increase

  • go beyond the estate where you live to the local heath

  • attempt a set of tricky steps. Thought this would be in time for crocuses but have readjusted goal to be in time for bluebells!

  • walk safely at home using work surfaces as a reference

  • use home gym; use weights, cross-trainer

  • walk a mile a day. Get off train a couple of stops early. Aim to get back on a bicycle

  • go round the block; good for morale when you have not been feeling well

  • be stronger, walk faster

  • set goals, try and achieve them

  • A Log book for LEGS members to try and record efforts is in progress (apologies for delay). It will be delivered shortly to Conor for distribution.

  • walk to park which is a mile away. Sarah suggested walking 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile and so on. Break up the distance into small goals

  • cross the road safely.

Skills for Going Out

It is quite a transition from household ambulator to community walker! LEGS exercises such as head turning when balancing are designed for this. Challenges mentioned included kerbs, traffic, roundabouts.

Sarah suggested practising skills for going outside such as balancing while looking around. There is a fear of falling over to be overcome; if you cannot get up, people may be reluctant to help you in these times of COVID-19.

Sarah informed us you can use a harness on a treadmill and described the Lokomat (not widely available in the UK), an assisted robotic walking device. Some LEGS people have used that.

Answering a question about the damaged leg not moving as it should, Sarah recommended breaking actions down into smaller elements;

  • weight shift onto weaker leg

  • step to a target (stand on weaker leg and step)

  • do a long step with your stronger leg

  • turning

There should be improvement with repetition.

Improve Speed & Calf Muscles

How to improve speed?

  • Try stepping with the Clock Yourself app.

  • Put exercise bands on the floor in a cross shape and challenge yourself to step into the four quadrants.

  • Build up to step quickly.

  • Problems are caused because the muscles do not have enough power and endurance

  • Bounding - heel raise, push of back leg onto your toe.

  • Calf muscles are very important. They are the powerhouse to your walking strength. Build strength by doing this: walk 5 minutes: fast-slow-medium

  • Muscles work in pairs, one set may be weaker after neurological damage.

  • A LEGS member found Botox injection had helped.

Look at the walking cycle and pick out an element to practise.

Detailed information on strengthening muscles for walking can be found in this article. It references Gavin Williams, a consultant physiotherapist in Australia who hosts an online course which some of the LEGS team have done.

It is important to stretch the calf muscle and build up endurance.

Nordic Walking

Image source:

Did you know this has benefits for those with neurological conditions including Parkinson’s?

Done properly it is good for coordination and arm strength. It helps to maintain a rhythm as you move. Can help to prevent your limbs from freezing if you encounter a different floor level or meet a floor junction.

Walx have free online tutorials on technique and how to use the poles correctly.

You can do Nordic Walking anywhere, and there is a wide variety of equipment available. There are different tips for the sticks, including golf-ball shaped ones for different terrains.

See Members’ Area for links to Nordic Walking Groups and Health Walking Groups.


Cycling is excellent exercise, using a tricycle, adaptive bikes, inside our outside.

It is possible to rent bikes (Motomeds, Theravital - see below for links). This can be expensive. There are grants available.

Adapted cycling opportunities:

Bikeworks (at London's Victoria Olympic Park)

Adapted Bikes for home

Can rent these bikes for 3 month periods or buy but very expensive. Two companies


Motomed ( legs and arms train separately )

Motomed muvi ( train legs and arms together)


Thera-trainer tigo 630 (legs small control no screen):

Thera trainer tigo 632 (legs and arms large screen):

Thera-trainer tigo 566: (arms and legs)

Normal floor based pedals something similar to below links can be helpful against a wall and on dysom/non slip surface. Key is to ensure pedals suitable for weaker leg(s) to stay on, can get pedal adapted with a cage or velcro but very annoying if pedals foot keeping falling off and think about control around your hip might want to loosely tie thighs together to stop hip(s) rolling out.

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